As the fall and winter months barrel down upon us, so does the cavalcade of retail video game releases. Traditionally speaking, this is a time for many video game fans to dive into the plentiful bounty of popular franchises that have come back after long hiatuses, like the Halo or the Call of Duty series. Yet not all great games come in boxes, some come in the form of digital distribution, through the wondrous “system of tubes” which we call the Internet. Here were some of the standout downloadable titles for the month of September.
Dead Rising 2: Case Zero
The original Dead Rising was divisive when it came out in the early part of the Xbox 360’s life cycle. Many considered it a flawed masterpiece because, in spite of its fun premise, it lagged at times due to its needless repetition of mission objectives. Dead Rising 2: Case Zero, for the Xbox Live Arcade, seems to be straddling that same line between fun gameplay and infuriating game design. After the initial allegations that Case Zero was an attempt by Capcom to charge customers for a demo of Dead Rising 2 (with demos usually being free on XBLA), tempers started to settle down once everyone got a chance to play it. Case Zero follows the same formula as the original Dead Rising, where you have an open world littered with zombies in which you complete various objectives within an allotted time. Their only difference is that Case Zero takes the experience of a Dead Rising game and shrinks it down to a three-to-five-hour undertaking. If you’re still on the fence about spending $60 on Dead Rising 2, Case Zero is a good litmus test for only five dollars.
“Everything falls into place.” That’s what the title screen says when you first boot-up Shibuya—and that single phrase describes the game perfectly. Shibuya is a puzzle game for the iPhone and iPod Touch from first-time indie developers Nevercenter. The object of the game revolves around the player rearranging a single row of colorful blocks to create chain of combos for higher scores. While at first glance it might not seem like much, after a few playthroughs, you will understand why this game is so unique. Similar to why both Tetris (for the original GameBoy) and Lumines (for the Sony PSP) are so special on their respective platforms, Shibuya is designed specifically for touch-sensitive devices like the iPhone. It plays so well in fact that it’s hard to imagine getting the same satisfaction playing on any other gaming system. This PAX 10 darling, which stole the show at the Penny Arcade Expo, has received quite the buzz over the last couple of weeks. For under three dollars, it becomes a must purchase.
There’s something about TerRover’s design that makes the game feel very inviting. Maybe it’s the clean, colorful art style, or maybe it’s the lovable robot lead, but something about TerRover’s aesthetic screams “love me” like most lovable indie games do. However, don’t be fooled, because while the game might look inviting, it’s really tough as nails. As you traverse your tank-like robot through five unique environments ranging from a mechanical/industrial setting to the obligatory lava level, you start to take notice of the unique physics system within the game. While this does make interacting with the various environments fun, the solutions to the physics-based platforming can be a bit jarring at times. As beautiful as it is masochistic, TerRover is a game for those with old-school sensibilities.