With any next generation console, the Xbox 360 requires power and pizazz with a diversity to match. Xbox Live Arcade is the diversity that so many gamers crave as the constant stream of first person shooters, beat ’em ups and sports games can leave a nasty familiar taste in your mouth.
With a very clear target of releasing classics and brand new titles in glorious high definition with a much looser requirement that publishers usually place on retail games, Xbox Live Arcade should have been the system of dreams for developers and indeed Microsoft themselves. Instead it has become a rather slow staggering beast that has just only recently started to get up on all fours with any sense of stability.
I am a gamer who has enjoyed countless consoles and home computers to find myself missing many of the classics and older styles of gameplay in which particular 2D graphics can only really satisfy. 3D is a magnificent marvel, but it is not a replacement and should only be considered an advancement that is meant to enhance. Instead the 3D bandwagon of games has forced publishers and developers to only really consider this newer route and has forced out many of my favourite genres.
Point and click adventures are almost a thing of the past and although the more worthy modern variations do appear, there are still gimmicks that can end up destroying the heritage. There are lots of reasons for this and the desire for fresh ideas and the need to not look in any way old fashioned puts a lot of strain on the game designers. When I think of Simon the Sorcerer 3 and how publishers wouldn’t touch it with a barge pole unless it was in this new 3D technology saddened me greatly and unfortunately Simon the Sorcerer 3D was a poor follow up to two classic point and click adventure games.
Xbox Live Arcade removes a lot of the hurdles allowing developers the chance to release a title that has a potentially massive audience without the need for traditional 3D aspects. We see this with the mass popularity of titles like Geometry Wars Evolved, Uno and the more recently released Alien Hominid HD. Don’t get me wrong 3D can still be used to add to the experience greatly, but it shouldn’t dominate it either!
So where has it gone wrong? Well unfortunately the features we love have caused many of the problems. It is not like the Nintendo Wii where you can just emulate a game system and stick a few titles on there. Instead Microsoft and others have to take the code, fiddle about with it and get it up to the standards we now expect on our Xbox 360 console. This is the noose around Xbox Live Arcade’s neck and quite frankly it is strangling it.
For Xbox Live Arcade to compete with other variations appearing on rival systems, Xbox 360 users would have to miss out on achievements, online gaming, trial demonstrations and high definition graphics. This is just not going to happen as we all crave that connection to the community, the visibility of gaming with our online chums and unlocking awards which before never existed until now.
It is not all doom and gloom for Xbox Live Arcade though, there are many titles that have been released that are just pure fun through and through, but we are all going to have to be very patient about any of the release schedules as it just isn’t going to have the same output rival systems can enjoy.