A quick side note is that I love how easily I bypassed the need to pay for those stupidly expensive Wi-Fi adapters. I have an Apple Airport delivering Wi-Fi through to my iMac, and it was a simple matter of plugging my Xbox360 into my iMac and then properly setting up the settings to make my Xbox360 believe my iMac was a router. I love it and I spent $0.00 on it. I helped my cousin do the same set up last night in fact. I learned all about this from this one particular youtube video which you can view here.
Now, I went trial-version crazy and began downloading a ton of them last night. I have over 40 gigs of space on the system, so why not? My first run at the pickings were inspired by my pals over at the Negative World forums. I asked them what I should get and they threw a ton of fantastic-looking suggestions my way. I downloaded Sonic 4 Episode 1, Braid, Super Meat Boy, Scott Pilgrim The Game, Limbo, and the Perfect Dark trial. I apparently already had demos for the disc games, Half Life 2, Kameo, and Call of Duty World At War. Those are quite dated demos nowadays and I think I did end up trying Kameo out and being unimpressed. Regardless, I started playing the games and these have been my thoughts.
Sonic The Hedgehog 4 Episode 1: 1200 pts:
The demo was only the first level of the first world and I was not very impressed. The graphics looked relatively nice, certainly upgraded from their Sega Genesis counterparts, but the gameplay felt awkward or perhaps slow compared to the originals. Maybe it's not fair to judge against the old games but if the sole purpose was to rekindle that fire in the same way Donkey Kong Country Returns recently did for Donkey Kong Country fans,... it might have missed the boat too much. I couldn't imagine spending 1200 points on this, not when I only have 1600.
Braid: 800 pts:
Now this was something a little more interesting. I was told it was a time-based puzzler with platforming elements but that it wasn't specifically a platformer. Color me intrigued. The game demo just jumps right in and after I figured out the basic controls for jumping, climbing, and the mysterious time-reversing feature, I was collecting puzzle pieces left and right. Not all of them though were simple to get, and in fact I missed a handful. Some of these jumps seem wildly far for the basic controls I have at the time. The trailer for the game shows a lot more than the basic moves I have right now so I assume things get unlocked as you progress. Maybe you have to go back for them? Not according to my friend Pandareus at Negative World. I'll have to go back and give it another shot with the little tip he gave me. I made it through the first area to a small castle. A dinosaur comes out and says, "I'm sorry, but the princess is in another castle." What a nice reference Mr. Dinosaur. He then babbled on about purchasing the whole game and getting more castles that the princess might be in. I see a lot of potential here. The music is nice, the graphics are pleasant, and it's overall a fun experience. I worry that it might be a bit short, but we'll see if I pick it up. With the test run over, I moved on to the next game in the list, one that everyone has been drooling over.
Super Meat Boy: 1200 pts:
I loved the feel of it from the get go. Some pimp smacks Super Meat Boy's woman in the face and now he's got to exact revenge? That what it seems like anyway. I was nailing A+ rankings on the first two levels but on the third, I forgot to read the trick it's trying to teach you. I died so much in that chasm that I unlocked an Avatar award, and then it told me I didn't get to keep it because I don't own the full game. What a tease. Playing it again I realized it was teaching me the running jump. I shoulda known. In level 1-5 I encountered a warp zone which came with a booming voice, another achievement, and another mocking that I don't own the full game so I can't collect it. Considering I'm having fun with this and they're mocking me about not being able to collect stuff, this is an effective way to make me want to buy it. I didn't make it through all three warp zone parts initially but upon playing it again I did... only to receive yet another Super Mario Bros. reference when I was explained that the bandage girl, or whatever her name is, was in another warp zone. I love seeing indie developers paying homage to the classics. The game is quite fun, but it's 1200 points which is a little high for me considering I was hoping to get two games out of this card... We'll see. When I played the final World 1 demo level, 1-15, I died twice before successfully beating it. I found that my replay showed all my runs at once, with only one guy surviving. That was quite a neat little feature and it was even better on another level with like, fifteen of the meat boys. So far with Braid and Super Meat Boy, it's a tough decision. The Dark World too... I got a little taste of it and it must be insanely hard later on. Whether I get this game now or not, I need to at some point in the next few months.
Scott Pilgrim The Game: 800 pts:
I was surprised at how long I played this demo for. I was already a huge fan of the band, Anamanaguchi, who did the music for the game and in fact I had heard many of the tracks recently. The game resembles TMNT2 The Arcade Game from my youth, or perhaps that Simpsons Arcade Game. I had a decent amount of fun with it but these games generally aren't my thing. The only fighters I really ever cared about were those in the Super Smash Bros series. Still, this was fun and it was great kicking ass and making money as I pummeled through the seemingly infinite enemies of Toronto's streets. I liked the level up system too which seemed to give me more moves as I went on, however that's not to say I knew how to use them effectively. I was carrying an enemy and I accidentally entered Flatirons Books... who knew I could enter stores! Some chick with subtly bouncing breasts was trying to sell me books like the Vegan Cookbook and 101 Push Ups. Perhaps these were for leveling up or new moves? I bought 101 Push Ups since I could afford it. It apparently boosted my XP by 230 and my strength by 10. Kind of neat, it was like armor or something in an RPG. That's a neat addition to this kind of game. Finally after traversing that special highway and the city of Toronto I came to my first boss battle, Matthew Patel. It felt great to KO him. I've never read the comics but I loved the movie, this might be something I get down the line and I definitely will keep the demo around for quick play sessions. Also in a move against the game, I found the original Turtles Arcade game on the service for a measly 400 coin.
Limbo: 1200 pts:
If German Expressionism Cinema and Film Noir had a baby, it would be Limbo. The atmosphere is both literally and figuratively saturated in this game. From the looks of it, it's a platformer but it involves a little ingenuity. I traversed a foggy lake but once I got to the other side I needed to drag that boat over the land so I could use it to gain height. Then, like Indiana Jones, I climbed up a cliffside, leaped to a dangling vine/rope, and climbed up the cliff. It's pretty great so far, if perhaps just a little slow but I think that's the point. I think you're supposed to soak in this beady-eyed shadow-clad figure as he traverses the landscape. I eventually came to a giant spider hiding near a tree. How morbidly intriguing it was to have it kill me. What was the point? How was I to pass him? When I figured it out, how very haunting it was for him to exact his arachnid revenge. This little game is fascinating and all without background music. I wish this were a little cheaper because it seems like an amazing title but I don't know if I'm going to buy just one 1200 points game, no matter how good it is, especially when I've wanted the next game I played for so long.
Perfect Dark: 800 pts:
The moment this game booted up I felt every ounce of nostalgia flow through me. I suddenly recalled how the enemies would yell, "You bitch!" when I shoot them and how those doors sounded when you opened them. This was classic Perfect Dark but with nicer graphics and an even nicer frame rate. The change in frame rate might be the single most noticeable change. The controls were a little rough though. After being a Wii shooter guy, it's hard to go back to the inferior precision of dual analog. I'm sure though I could if I had to, I mean, the game does include auto aim. It might be cheap but it might make the overall experience that much better. I don't recall if the original had auto-aim or not. It's going to be hard NOT picking this. I wanna see the whole storyline flesh out once more. I would just use my original copy without any problem except that the analog sticks on the old N64 controllers are all quite worn out by now. They are horrible compared to those found on the Nunchuk or the Xbox360 controllers.
I had also downloaded trials for Shadow Complex, Comic Jumper, and both Banjo games but unless I misread something, they are all 1200 points.
In the end I made one final check about my choices. You see, Perfect Dark was recently a measly 400 points but I was slow this Christmas and I missed the boat on that. Still, $10 isn't bad at all and it's what I would be paying for the original non-updated version of the game if it ever released on the Wii's Virtual Console. I did a little more reading at the Perfect Dark page of one of my new favorite sites, XBLARatings.com and people seemed to love everything that has been done to it. I remember fondly how much I love this game so it's a high contender. Then I read about the other 800 points option, Braid. Apparently the game has no replay value, which makes sense, and it can be a little too short... but that's why I wanted to buy two games. This is of course without even considering I still have a decent Christmas bounty to tackle. Braid overall looks and plays really well and I never got into the Prince of Persia series so here's my chance for some time-warping action. It can be a slight precursor to the DS game I'm looking forward to, Radiant Historia. 1200 points is about $15 dollars and while I don't have more money to spend on points right now, I know I'll need to go pick up Limbo and Super Meat Boy in the future. Scott Pilgrim is fun as a demo and Sonic 4 isn't that fun in general. I've spent a lot of time today playing demos and I'll continue with the other games which are still downloading ever so slowly.
The winners of my 1600 Live points definitely go to Perfect Dark and Braid.
Do you think I made the right decisions? Have any suggestions for games I should go buy right now despite not being able to afford them? Let me know in the comments. One of these days I'll purchase a Gold account of Xbox Live, whenever that happens I'd love to kick your ass in some Perfect Dark multiplayer. Just let me know.