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Bill Loguidice's picture

Initial Impressions of Microsoft's Game Room

Well, I downloaded Microsoft Game Room last night on my Xbox 360, and the two game packs, which essentially featured a small selection of Atari 2600 and Intellivision console games, and Konami and Atari arcade games. I came away underwhelmed. While some of the basic concepts are sound, like being able to create your own virtual arcade rooms to decorate and "walk" around in (your avatar is shown sidling up to a machine), and being able to visit others' arcades, it's not exactly as aesthetically pleasing and as smooth of an interface as I would like. Nevertheless, I'm sure I could get used to that, but where it really breaks down for me is in the video emulation, which simply doesn't seem to work that well with my 50" 1080p HDTV at the distance I am from the screen (about 10 feet). What do I mean by this? Well, particularly with some of the arcade machines, like Lunar Lander for instance, everything is just too small to comfortably make out from a distance, and the zoom options - which are only accessible from a menu and are not real-time - don't really help, so there's naturally lots of wasted space on the left and right of the screen. Of course, some games fare better with this than others, like the Atari 2600 and Intellivision games (though I didn't feel like the latter controlled all that great or that the emulation was 100%), but I still found the experience rather uncomfortable, no matter what screen settings I chose. There are additional options for adding and removing scanlines and various other display and sound trickery and ambiance, but nothing worth really sticking with.

If you demo a game, it's a one time, timed free demo, then you have to use credits to play the game (they give you 20 to start out with), or purchase the game, of which there are two major options: purchase just for this console, or purchase for play on others devices as well (in this case, your Windows PC). In any case, I'm going to experiment more with this new service when I have time, and see if being closer to the TV (as in, off my comfy sofa) makes me any more "comfortable", as there are certainly some interesting aspects to this, including issuing challenges to your Game Room-owning Xbox 360 or Windows friends.

So, for those who tried it, what are your thoughts?

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