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Bill Loguidice's picture

Braid - The Cohabitation of Art and Videogames

"Art" is a word frequently thrown around in the videogame world, usually in the question, "Are videogames art?". While art truly is in the eye of the beholder and it's ultimately fruitless to try and argue if videogames and art can be one in the same, from my perspective there have been precious few times when something in the videogame world struck me as beautiful and made me feel emotions normally reserved for my experiences with other forms of entertainment. It's with that idea in mind then that I come to Braid from Number None Inc., for Microsoft's Xbox 360, via Xbox Live Arcade. To me, this time manipulation puzzle platformer is art in its truest sense, from the painterly, animated graphics style to the almost transcendental instrumental music to the rather flowery and richly constructed prose. Braid is also a game of seemingly purposeful contrasts, embracing often overly tread videogame constructs like jumping on enemy heads to dispatch them (Super Mario Bros.), finding and using keys (Shamus) and puzzle pieces (Impossible Mission), and reversing time in order to meet or re-do certain goals (Blinx), all wrapped up in an achingly beautiful aesthetic that makes everything else about it quite all right thank you very much. If I weren't terrifically busy and feeling a bit guilty about best use of my own time, I'd buy the 1200 point game immediately, but I will have to make do with a taste of the free demo for the time being, a demo of a game I'll want to expose my wife to at the first opportunity so I have someone else, firsthand, to share the experience with (and an experience it is). There are already countless reviews of Braid (whose title, for those wondering, is also fitting), but here's a brief one to get you started that hints just a bit more at what the game actually offers...

Matt Barton's picture

Xbox 360 and the End of HD DVD

I was wondering how current Xbox 360 owners feel about Toshiba's surrender to Blu-Ray in the next-gen DVD standards war. I see that the price of the HD DVD player for the 360 has been slashed, and will not doubt soon be appearing in bargain bins. Do you think this will give the decisive edge to the PS3 in the high-end gamer market?

Bill Loguidice's picture

Halo 3 Legendary Edition - Feelie Envy...

Well, my Halo 3 Legendary Edition came today from Amazon.com, which I pre-ordered all the way back in May. What awaited me when I got home from work was one honking huge box...

Bill Loguidice's picture

Gaming Come Lately - LifeLine (PS2), Jetpac Refuelled (Xbox 360), etc.

LifeLine (Konami, 2004, PS2): Image from GameFlyLifeLine (Konami, 2004, PS2): Image from GameFlyWell, I must say, it's been very enjoyable gaming for me the past few days, despite having limited time to really get into anything at any length. I'm still chomping at the bit to sit down and play MLB '07 The Show from Sony for the PS2, which I've only had time to dabble in so far, and I only just took a few hours this morning to actually do my family's taxes, as well as there being the ever-present 800-pound gorilla ("the book") in my life and needing to finish organizing my videogame and computer collection (adding to many other things).

So, while these are not in-depth overviews, I wanted to quickly and specifically talk about LifeLine (2004, Konami, PS2), the infamous adventure game driven mostly by voice commands, and Jetpac Refuelled (2007, Rare, Xbox 360), the latest ~$5 release for Xbox Live Arcade based on a classic game.

Matt Barton's picture

Worms Coming to Xbox Live Next Wednesday

As you undoubtedly already know, I'm a big fan of artillery games, and Worms is one of the best (if not the best) game in the genre. So, when I heard that Worms is coming to Xbox Live Arcade next week, I thought--perfect. The only reason why I don't tend to play Worms much nowadays is that I have no one to play it with! It's not much fun just blasting a computer controlled worm all day; the fun of these games relies very heavily on gloating as your sheep bounds gracefully towards your opponent. I'm not sure if anything can really compete with playing the game with a bunch of your buddies gathered around a Dreamcast, but this will likely come close. If I weren't living hand to mouth, I'd definitely be investing in the necessary equipment...!

Link spotted on Kotaku.

Matt Barton's picture

The Return of the Coin-Op?: GameTap and Xbox Live Arcade

To the average Armchair Arcader, it's a self-evident truth that classic old games like Joust, Galaga, and Frogger are just as fun to play (if not more so) as the latest "AAA Title." The popularity of retrogaming as a whole has recently surged in both the PC and console markets, and more and more people are discovering (or re-discovering) the joys of classic games. However, as any child of the 80s knows, a big part of the thrill associated with retrogaming isn't just the games, but rather the competitive atmosphere of the arcade. In these dimly lit dens of digital delinquency, a generation honed their hand-eye coordination in exhilerating coin-op competition. These deftly-wristed heroes fought for personal glory--specifically, the glory of entering their initials into the high score tables kept by the arcade machines. It's certainly no coincidence that the arcade machines one still finds alongside pool tables and dartboards in smoky taverns are classics like Ms. Pac-Man and Galaga: These games are designed to be played in social environments.

Matt Barton's picture

Backwards Compatibility in Hindsight

Backwards compatibility is a complicated, multi-faceted problem. The issues are different for players, developers, and engineers. Each has his or her own reasons to wish to extend or shorten the longevity of software designed for the previous generation’s hardware. Ultimately, though, backwards compatibility is a bad short-term solution to a big long-term problem. It’s hedging the bet on a new platform—and it lowers the stakes and thus the potential winnings offered by that platform. While there are certainly some situations where backwards compatibility is arguably very necessary, it quickly becomes a self-defeating activity. A nice, clean break with the last generation’s hardware and system software improves the odds that the new platform really will be something special. Of course, it could also end up six months later as the most expensive doorstop you’ve ever owned, but in the long term, it’s worth the risk—anything else stifles progress and limits the horizon for future gaming. If we want to move beyond present technology, we’ve got to be willing to take those risks.

Matt Barton's picture

Sony's Answer to Xbox Live Arcade: Will XLA withstand the Onslaught?

I was just reading an interview with Phil Harrison, the head of Sony's worldwide studios, and I must admit I'm very impressed with what I read. Apparently, Sony has recognized the appeal of downloadable games on next gen consoles and have decided not only to embrace the concept, but to pretty much sandblast the competition. The idea is not just to offer small "freebies" and retrogames, but actually pay out for some 40+ premium quality games that push the PS3 hard in all directions. The fact that every PS3 comes standard with a hard drive may make the difference.

Matt Barton's picture

Sears Makes ESRB "BooBoo" with National TV Spot

Joystiq is running a great post about a potentially nasty booboo at Sears--they've got a tv spot featuring some silly kid telling us how much he likes Halo and Halo 2, and how he bought them at Sears. The problem? Uh, the kid's too young to have bought those games legally, at least if we care to observe the ESRB's ratings.

Bill Loguidice's picture

Konami's Scramble (1981) on Xbox Live Arcade Wednesday's

Konami's Scramble (1981) arcade screenshotKonami's Scramble (1981) arcade screenshotWell, it was that time again yesterday, Xbox Live Arcade Wednesday, where Microsoft releases one new Xbox Live Arcade game each Wednesday until further notice. They missed last week, with technical difficulties with the still unreleased "Lumines Live!", but this week saw Konami's "Scramble" come out (Konami seems to be a HUGE Live supporter, don't they?).

For those unfamiliar with "Scramble", it's the 1981 arcade shooting game from Konami where you control a spaceship flying over a forced-scrolling landscape, able to shoot "bullets" and drop bombs, but needing to refuel frequently (by blowing up fuel tanks - go figure). To me, it's the lesser version of Universal's superior and contemporary "Cosmic Avenger", also from 1981, which features lusher landscapes and had a fun ColecoVision conversion that I played a ton of. In any case, I enjoy these types of games and many may be familiar with Scramble's sequel, "Super Cobra", which received conversions on countless platforms in the early to mid-80's courtesy of Parker Brothers.

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