Take my money!

Thursday, July 28, 2011
The last few weeks have seen a number of more than notable game popping up on the Xbox Live arcade. It's no secret that Xbox Live is home to some truly stand out titles, but the recent releases of Ms. Splosion Man, Bastion and From Dust rack up a truly cruel trifecta for any gamer.

Ms. Splosion Man, the latest from the bearded billiants at Twisted Pixel revisits the labs of Big Science. This is a maddening platformer at it's heart and as such games are wont, it will frustrate. That, as far as we can tell, is the solemn duty of a platformer. Ms splosion Man distinguishes itself with it's humor and simplicity. As frustrating as any one checkpoint or boss may be to overcome, the over the top humor will keep it fun, creating a kind of barrier between the happy and stabby gamer.

Bastion is a game easily misjudged. Most hype machines tout the "innovative narrative" of their games, and after playing games for so long it's easy to tune such claims out as just so much noise. Bastion's narrative framework delivers, however, creating a spectacular atmosphere reminiscent of campfire stories.

We've spoken before about the power of good voice work, and the voice actor for Bastion is a shining example. The depth, tone and drifter-esqe twang in that voice is a thing of beauty.

Bastion has more to offer than great voice work. On the surface it may seem all formulaic Zelda type play, but the ticking gears of the game hide some surprisingly complete character customization and play options.

Most recently is Ubisoft's From Dust. A game that should feel familiar to players of Populous and Black and White, From Dust combines the godly powers and village building with environment based puzzle solving. As the protector of a dying tribe, you are tasked with conquering the elements to help your people flourish.

Optional puzzles like spreading vegetation across the entire map and coaxing migrating beasts to your lands help round out the gameplay. The best thing about From Dust comes from playing with the way the elements interact. Water boils away into steam when a lava flow crosses it, sand shifts and washes away in heavy water flow. Much like playing with the forests, fields and villagers in Black and White, From Dust brings a sense of wonder and discovery to it's already lush and beautiful world.

The ridiculous density of compelling arcade games in this and the coming month are staggering. The best advice we can give you is to play the trials of each. Ms Splosion Man is the least expensive of the three and has a ton of extras (as well as the only one with a co-operative mode). Bastion has steady replayability and From Dust is one of those beautiful games that you come back to again and again to tinker with. If you can afford all of these games, well, we envy your pocketbook.