Monday, October 23, 2006

So Lumines Live finally got released on XBox Live Arcade...and I'm not impressed.

I owned a PSP in the summer of '05. I got it a few months after the "craze" died down. It was barely worth the sale price and I found it for much much cheaper down in Baltimore. Grabbed it and Lumines. That was the only game I ever owned for it. I enjoyed Lumines, a lot. It was one of those Tetris-like-zone-out games, except that it was nothing like Tetris. Yeah there are blocks and they fall, but that's about it. You play with 4x4 squares the entire time, so it's vastly different from the Russian-experience we've all had since the 80s.

So why is my jaw not dropping as if I were at this years Girls Gone Wild finals? XBLA basically broke the game. Let's do a little backstory. XBox Live is Microsoft's stab at online downloadable game content. Whether it's add-ons for a game you've bought, or an arcade game reminiscent of PopCap games the point is you download them from XBox Live. You pay with your credit card for "Points" and then purchase the games or content through the service.

So far I've been pretty pleased with XBLA. I got the DOOM remake, Geometry Wars, Zuma and a few other fun little arcade games. My favorite so far is probably Wik: The Fable Of Souls, where you control a little weird creature and the point is to eat as many slugs and bugs in a level as possible. He can swing by his tongue. Creative and amusing to no end. It cost about $5 for the full game. You can download trials of most of these games which let you play a few levels, or in some cases the whole game but leave little elements out. Say multiplayer or the ability to post your score on the Live leaderboards.

Here's the issue...Lumines comes fragmented. It's like paying for the demo. Having owned the PSP game I know what's supposed to be in the full game, and it's definitely not there. They have included so little with the aim of releasing a bunch of add-on packs so you can "customize your game experience." If customizing my game experience means taking it up the rear like the rope on my soap on a rope broke, well Microsoft's hit it dead on! And the worst part is it costs about $15. Yes that's right, $15 for something broken.

I love the idea of XBox Live Arcade. It's helping some little unknown developers get their turn on the kickball team. But the microtransactions are essentially "nickle and diming" gamers to death. The MAJORITY of gamers are males under 25, most of whom aren't going to spend that much cash on these games. If a game is going to cost more than $10, it better damn well be complete, and of good quality. This sour aftertaste that keeps getting left in gamers' mouths can only spell trouble if Microsoft doesn't alter their strategy.

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