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Eets: Chowdown Xbox Live Review

Eets Chowdown is yet another PC indie game that has successfully made the leap to Xbox Live Arcade. You definitely get your moneys worth of puzzles and gameplay, but for the price you may be better off saving 5 cents and getting a level editor with it all.

Gameplay: 7/10
Pros: Gameplay is a mix between Lemmings and the Incredible Machine. Difficulty is well paced throughout the game. Being able to load the solution reduces frustration.
Cons: Things get repetitive at about puzzle 70, and you just have to take a break. Game is fine in small doses, but long play sessions feel monotonous

Graphics: 9.5/10
Pros: This is how games should look! Great and original 2D graphics give Eets a real unique flare and visual style. Animation is top-notch.
Cons: I guess it's not impressive having gorgeous 2D graphics with a solid framerate since there's never too much going on at once.

Sound/Music: 7/10
Pros: Sound FX are good, I especially love Eets little happy noices, scared noises, or whatever.
Cons: Music is really bare bones and budget. It's fine if you're not paying attention to it, but if you really listen you can tell it's just the bare minimum needed for a game like this.

Lasting Appeal: 8.5/10
Pros: For $10 you get a whole lot of puzzling and a good minigame. You can save replays and play the minigame multiplayer locally.
Cons: For $9.95 you can get the same game and swap the minigame for a level editor and downloadable levels on the PC. Game is still monotonous in long play sessions.

Average: 80.00%
Tilt: +2.00%

This game deserves a little boost since it is a phenomenal value with some clever and challenging achievements. I love playing games on my Xbox and TV over my PC and tiny screen, so the LIVE version is for me. It's great for a couple puzzles now a couple puzzles later while you wait for a demo to download or whatever and that's really what LIVE ARCADE games are for.


3 XBOX LIVE ARCADE releases this week....sort of

Catan is a LIVE version of the popular strategy board game and features 13 historical personas, 4 players, voice, pretty graphics, and a tutorial to learn how to play the game. There's also popular house rules available. I've never played this board game

The other 2 releases are combined into one Konami-tastic package: Centipede and Millipede. Just a rehash of the old Arcade Coin-op games. I have to admit that I very much like the new live schedule of 1 beefy LIVE release and 1 nostalgic release.

Crackdown Downloadable Content Picture

Team Xbox got this picture from the new Crackdown downloadable content. Definitely a new vehicle in the works and the possibility of 4 player co-op? I do see 4 dune buggies. I really think this content should be free since Crackdown still owes us 100 Gamerpoints. Looks like I may dust off my copy of Crackdown before the Halo 3 Beta after all.

Devil May Cry 4- Gameplay Video

I've always been a DMC fan. Hope the playing styles from DMC3 make it into the game...

Best 5 Live Arcade games- Follow-up

A reader posted a comment yesterday about the below 5 xbox Live Arcade games wanting to know why I was looking forward to them or thought they looked like promising titles. The fact that this comment came from a fellow game developer just made it so I couldn't refuse. So what makes these 5 games the most promising? Well first of all, most of the games are ORIGINAL games and new IPs made specifically for Live Arcade. I love getting a new game tailored to Xbox Arcade over a nostalgic rehash of an older game (unless it's castlevania SotN of course). It's more exciting to play a Brand New game than play one you played years ago. Most of these 5 games have these features, but let's delve into what makes some even more exciting than the others.

  1. Castle Crashers- This game IS what Live Arcade should be about- taking old school gameplay (4 player Arcade beatemups) and fusing it with unique visuals, humor, and excellent animation. Watch this game in motion and tell me you don't want to play it with your friends. This game has the nostalgic classic pick up and play gameplay with updated visuals, new characters, etc. It's Golden Axe or Streets of Rage with online multiplayer and without the pixelated visuals of the 80s/90s...brilliant.

  2. Band of Bugs- I'm mainly looking forward to this game because I have loved every NinjaBee game so far and don't see why the newest release wouldn't live up to my expectations. Ninjabee is really good at taking really complicated PC game genres and simplifing them into more enjoyable experiences that are easier to approach. Outpost Kaloki X is a simplified RTS, but still maintains depth in its gameplay. It's a tough balance and I think Ninjabee does it well. Band of Bugs looks to be better since it takes a genre I've always liked more than RTS's and simplifies it, and gives us a map editor and online multiplayer. I hope this one comes out soon.

  3. Undertow- first off it is set in a future where Earth has been submerged by Water (hopefully that's where the similarities to 'Waterworld' end). It's offering a full campaign mode with co-op as well as intense it's full featured just like many of the $60 games out there. Gameplay is Battlefield meets Geometry Wars. You move with one stick and shoot with the other, while you fight to capture control points. Plus the graphics look pretty good.

  4. Eets- So these next 2 are lower on the list because they are not quite as unique. Eets is a port of a great Indie PC game so...I really wish I didn't get an error last night when I tried to download and play it. Hopefully, MS will have it all fixed up by this evening.

  5. Wing Commander Arena- On paper this game had me really excited because it was Wing Commander! on Xbox with multiplayer. The video got me less excited because it looks like they're simplifying and messing with both the WC gameplay and graphics/view. We'll see, but it still remains an interesting and promising project.

Hope that helps and enjoy the videos/trailers below...

The 5 Xbox Live Arcade Games that I think are the most promising (ranked for your convenience):

1. Castle Crashers

2. Band of Bugs

3. Undertow

4. Eets: Chowdown

5. Wing Commander: Arena

New Blog Layout

Yeah, sort of obvious for anyone who's been here before, but nonetheless...we have switched over to a 3 column blog in the hopes of adding feeds from other likeminded and excellent blogs such as ourselves. Look is pretty much the same we just have 3 columns instead of 2, but I hope everyone agrees it is for the best. I am trying to highlight our sponsored links as much as possible since they keep us going. Stay tuned this week because there is a lot in the works with our websites, and games.

Leaked Halo 3 Video of Zanzibar Remake

XBOX Live releases another 2 titles this week

Eets: Chowdown and Pinball FX are both coming this wednesday for 800 MS points each ($10). Eets is a puzzle game where you control the emotions of the main character to complete each level. Pinball FX is a pinball game where you can control the flippers with the camera or the controller. Eets is actually already a critically acclaimed computer Indie game. It's just really great to see all of these indie studios seeing success and porting to Xbox Live Arcade. I also much prefer the 2 original titles that this week offers over 80s ports. Look for an Eets review later this week (definitely going to pick that one up) or check out the PC version now and judge for yourself. I still wonder where Band of Bugs has gone. I really love Ninjabee and the games they have put out so far and have been looking for Band of Bugs every wednesday recently.

Xbox Live Content SHOULD NOT BE FREE!

Ok, so now I have your attention and probably need to explain the title of this post somewhat. First, let me start off by saying that a lower cost on most LIVE content IS needed. $10 is pricey for some of the stuff out there for Xbox LIVE, but at the same time I would rather pay some fee for content that is actually worth playing then get a stream of free content that isn't worth my time. My feeling about this stems primarily from the free content served up for Gears of War vs. the $10 content for Rainbow Six that just came out this week. While, the Rainbow Six content is a little pricey ($5 would be perfect) it does give you a whole lot more to do in the game: 5 new maps and 2 new gamemodes with one of the new maps being one of the best yet (Doscala Restaurant). So while, I'm a little pissed about the high price, I am happy with all the new features. It's a little much for $10, but definitely deserves to cost something. Compare this major expansion pack to Gears of War's 2 free maps and new game mode. The 2 free maps were nice, but only 1 was any good (Old Bones). Raven Down IS the WORST map and I would've been just as happy to never have it. The new game mode is also nice, but that merely brings Gears of War's multiplayer modes to a whooping?... what 2 modes: Annex and Team Deathmatch/Survival (w/ 3 variations). Gears of War owes us more modes and should give them to us for free, whereas Rainbow 6 already had 8 modes or so and just added 2 more on top of that. Let's really take a moment and compare the price and features of each game (please let me know if I forget a map or something)-

Gears of War- $60

  • Game Modes: 5 (I'll count Assassination, Warzone and Execution as different despite the vast similarities then throw in online co-op as an online mode and of course Annex)
  • Maps: 12 (Escalation, Gridlock, Old Bones, Raven Down, Fuel Depot, Tyro Station, Warzone, Rooftops, Canals, Clock Tower, Mausoleum, Mansion)
  • Players: up to 8


Rainbow 6: Vegas - $70

  • Game Modes: 10 (Co-op Story, Co-op terrorist hunt, Sharpshooter, Team Sharpshooter, Survival, Team Survival, Attack & Defend, Assassination, Territories, Retrieval)
  • Maps: 15 (Calypso Casino, Casino Vault, Dantes, Labs, Dam, Killhouse 1 & 2, BorderTown 1 & 2, Doscala Restaurant, Marshalling Yards, Roof, Streets, Library, LVU campus)
  • Players: up to 16

So after this brief analysis, Rainbow 6 DEFINITELY offers more modes, maps, and overall game than Gears for $10 more. It would be great if we could get these new modes and maps for free, but ultimately when you compare the 2 packages, they really seem about right. Don't get pissed at Content costing money...get pissed that Gears still owes us content and that the next round of maps is going to cost money (at first). How bout the fact that Gears has been out for 5 months and all we've gotten is 2 maps, a new mode, and a bunch of updates which have still yet to fix the Shotgun's immense power and the complete lack of strategy that this overused and overpowered weapon brings. Gears OUT Rainbow IN.


Boom Boom Rocket has an awful name and is incredibly difficult, but is the first music/rhythm game for Xbox Live and a pretty good (not great) one at that.

Gameplay: 7.5/10
Pros: Classic Music rhythm gameplay where you press the buttons in time with the music. 2 game modes, and local multiplayer.
Cons: The overall game is incredibly difficult…way too difficult.

Graphics: 8/10
Pros: The fireworks look great and the overall presentation is top-notch. Nothing beats engaging in a flashy bonus run.
Cons: The city background is repetitive…it would have been nice to add some weather effects or something to up the variety.

Sound/Music: 9/10
Pros: The music is all remixes of classic songs and orchestral pieces. I think it fits the fireworks motif perfectly, but may not be everyone’s thing.
Cons: The songs lack the catchy nature and recognizable appeal of other music games such as Elite Beat Agents.

Lasting Appeal: 6/10
Pros: Local Multiplayer, online leaderboards, and 3 difficulty levels give you plenty to do in order to get your 200 achievement points…
Cons: unfortunately frustration will set in well before you get those 200 pts. The game is excessively difficult and while the game is a decent challenge on EASY it is near impossible on HARD…is it even possible to get an A on Hard?

Average: 76.25%
Tilt: -3.25%

Boom Boom Rocket is a good game that fills the void of a nice little music game on Live Arcade at the moment, but its difficulty and 10 songs make it too hard and expensive for 800 ($10) Microsoft Points. That’s about $1 a song…and for that I can get whatever I want on iTunes and don’t have to settle for orchestral/instrumental pieces only.

Verdict: 73%

2 Xbox Live Arcade Games this week...WHA?

Microsoft is releasing 2 Live Arcade Games this Wednesday. The classic Gyruss (like Tempest) for 400 points and the Sierra Online 3D MiniGolf for 800 MS points. I still hate waiting till Monday to find out what games are coming out, but I have to admit that getting 1 classic/ and 1 new game is much better than the "dud" wednesdays where we got Frogger or Root Beer Tapper for Live Arcade. This is especially good news, because I am loving LIVE arcade more and more with each release. Just one question...when is Band of Bugs coming out from NinjaBee? I love those guys.

BattleStations: Midway Xbox 360 Review

Battlestations midway is a mix of a strategy and action game. The strategy game aspect of the game works and plays very well, while the action can be very dependent on which vehicle you decide to pilot. This game isn’t for anybody, but is definitely a title that stands out and plays different from most of the stuff out there on the Xbox 360.

Gameplay: 7/10
Pros: PT boat, submarines are very exciting to control, ships are slow and are pretty fun to pilot as well. The strategy aspects of the game are very complex and make the game deep and challenging.
Cons: The tutorial takes about an hour to complete and when it was done I definitely forgot some stuff. Planes are difficult to control and the overall controls can be clunky.

Graphics: 6/10
Pros: Battles can really pick up and look exciting, the vehicles are good looking, take realistic damage and are well animated.
Cons: This is by far the weakest area of Battlestations. The game just doesn’t look like a 360 title, but instead a nice looking PC-game. Generic and repetitive background graphics abound.

Sound/Music: 7.5/10
Pros: The sound effects are very solid and top-notch and the military cadences and themes work well with the game.
Cons: The voice work of the main character in the game is awful and laughable. I actually grew to hate the main character because he was such a philosophical pansy. It really detracted from the story.

Lasting Appeal: 9/10
Pros: There are a multitude of different scenarios and challenges both in the single player game and online. 1 on 1 online matches with a plethora of units can be a grueling chess match, while 4 on 4 matches are more action oriented. If you can live with the graphics and make it through the tutorial, there is a lot here to keep you entertained.
Cons: This type of game definitely isn’t for everybody and feels a little overprices at $60…more like a $40-$50 title.

Average: 73.75%
Tilt: +0.25%

If you aren’t an Action/FPS only gamer, there’s something to be found in Battlestations: Midway. It is not a AAA title, but offers a pretty unique and deep experience for Xbox 360 gamers willing to give it a chance. If only the majority of vehicles controlled as well as the speedy PT boats, this game could’ve really knocked one out of the park.

Verdict: 74%

R.I.P. Playstation 3......20GB model

Sony has officially announced that the 20GB wireless-less PS3 model is dead in North America. Something about the 60GB version being demanded 90% of the time. Could someone find some good Playstation news out there? I actually don't think this is that big of a deal. The 60GB Playstation featured an extra 40GB over the cheaper version, but also offered built in wireless internet all for only $100 more, so of course it would be more demanded. If you want an Xbox with a wireless adapter you'll have to spend nearly $100 right there to upgrade it. So while not a big deal per se, it's still not really a good thing to promote and talk about Sony. Geez!

New Halo 3 Multiplayer Video

The Halo 3 Beta is Coming! Finally! May 17th

Hurray! finally we know when we'll get to play this game. Exactly 4 weeks from the new Halo 2 maps, the Halo 3 Beta will be released on May 17th. The Beta will feature the 3 already revealed maps (Valhalla, High Ground, and Snowbound) as well as feature some of the new weapons (spartan laser, brute spiker, spike grenades) and some new vehicles (the Mongoose ATV). It's all very exciting and I am just glad the guessing game of when it's coming out is finally put to rest. Other good news is that I shouldn't have to buy a new game any time soon:

Gears: New Gametype maps coming
Rainbow 6: 4 new maps, 2 new gametypes next couple weeks
Crackdown: Last 100 gamer points, new vehicles, planes? next couple weeks
Halo 3 Beta: May 17th

Gears of War Annex is here with some Tweaks

So Annex came out yesterday after all. Unfortunately, I hadn't heard anything before I got home so I decided to play something different, but I am looking forward to it tonight. I have looked around and found details on what has been patched/tweaked gameplay wise. Here's my breakdown and opinion (sans playing it myself):

  • VGA Cable Support: Monitor resolution widths greater than or equal to 1280 now render as letterbox. In particular VGA users running at 1280x1024 will now see the game in full 720p (1280x720) resolution in letterboxed form.
  • Adjusted Assassination Multiplayer Gametype: Leader no longer has to unlock weapons and now has to be executed to die.
  • Adjusted Boomshot: Splash damage to be more effective rendering targets down-but-not-out.
  • Adjusted Hammer of Dawn: Aiming will be more forgiving of moving targets.
  • Adjusted Roadie Run: Reduced frequency of accidently grabbing cover while running.
  • Kill Message Ticker: Ticker can now be seen while down-but-not-out and spectating.
  • Annex kills (pretty much the whole mode) don't count for achievements
  • General: Addressed a number of possible exploits in multiplayer.
  • Lancer damage has been increased
  • If grenade tagged, throwing yourself at other players and killing them when you explode will count as kills for you

The last two improvements I am especially happy about, while the only tweak that sort of sucks is that Annex kills don't count towards achievements. Thank god that the Lancer is more powerful! This will hopefully stop gangs of shotgunners roadie running at your while you shoot them...only to die since shotgun is way too powerful. At the Gears forums, the most controversial change is the roadie run/cover system, but supposedly, once you get used to's better. This is one I really have to try, but basically if you steer and use your stick to point away from cover you'll keep running...seems like a good idea. If the shotgun host issue has been addressed then the only thing I need to fall in love with Gears again is a party ranked match feature.

New Gears Maps will cost ya!

It sucks but the new gears maps are going to cost some cash. How much, I can't tell you, but it looks like the maps will cost at first and then be free later on, much like the Halo 2 map model. Here's Epic's explanation:

"Quite frankly Xbox Live Marketplace isn't our store. It's Microsoft's store. Like any retailer they have the right to figure out what goes on the shelves of their store and what price they sell it at. They spend the money to operate the store and deliver the content. They've also spent billions of dollars to create and build Xbox and subsidize it's the price so you can afford it and we can make games for it. As our publisher, they also invested tens of millions of dollars marketing Gears of War, and have done an awesome job for us, so they have a right to a good return on that investment."

At least the new gametype Annex will be free...still sucks though.

3 Xbox 360 Things...

1. There will be a new Dashboard update in May for Xbox that will integrate Windows Live messenging with the 360. With that will come such monstrosities as this controller with an attachable keyboard so you can messege your friends and all that jazz. Isn't this controller a little too reminiscent of the Jaguar controller ? The Jaguar was an Atari system claiming to be 64bit but was really just the worst system ever. Way to bulky! Original Xbox controller anyone?

2. Boom Boom Rocket (Bizarre and EA Games) Xbox Live title was said to be releasing mid-April. Since we know Live games come out on Wednesday that pretty much leaves April 11th or 18th. Sony may not be listening, but it seems that Microsoft is...that's nice.
3. Gears of War- The new Annex gametype is coming out very very soon, though it seems not today. Read somewhere that the Lancer damage is being upped as one of the tweaks..can I get a thank you! Finally, shooting a roadie running shotgunner will not result in you getting blown to pieces. Shotgun is way too powerful! but it looks to be addressed in the update. Coming soon after the update for Gears of War....4 new maps: 1 is a surface park with underground subway, and another is a marsh! sounds good...but will they be free?

Gears of War New Gametype coming April 9th?

In case you missed it, here's some details about the new gametype Annex that were posted prematurely on the official Gears of War Page. It sounds pretty much like territories or king of the hill from Halo and other multiplayer games. Microsoft confirmed the details of Annex, but said the date: April 9th is not official and still TBD. Anyway here's more detailed description:

Once the 60 points are gone, the next objective or location is chosen. Unlike other Gears of War gametypes, this one involves respawning -- players return into battle every 15 seconds. Total round scores can be set as low as 120 points or as high as 480 points. As for HUD and map changes related to Annex:

" On the HUD, the current objective appears below the team scores at top left. This indicator contains several pieces of relevant information. The weapon icon inside the circle indicates which weapon-spawn location is being used as the objective. The compass along the outer edge of the circle shows the relative direction to the objective. The number inside the circle indicates how many points remain at that objective and the background icon color indicates which team currently controls it. No color means the objective awaits capture, a red icon means the Locust Horde hold the objective and a blue icon means the COG hold it. When the icon in the indicator circle fills, the corresponding team's score also changes color, the team begins collecting points from the objective, and the point value of the objective drops.
On the map, a projected ring marks the physical location and boundaries of the objective in the world. The ring's color indicates the current captor: White means neutral, blue COG, and red Locust. To capture an objective, players must stand inside the glowing ring uncontested for a short period of time. How long depends on how many teammates stand in the ring at once. One player can capture an objective in eight seconds, two players in four seconds, three players in two seconds, and four players in one second. Once a team takes an objective, they are not required to remain inside the ring to maintain ownership. The captured objective's points drain until an opposing team member enters the ring, or until its points fall to zero."

And configurable options:

Selected Map: Which map or series of maps to use.
Number of Rounds: Number of rounds required to win the match.
Bleed-out Duration: Amount of time before a player dies while DBNO.
Round Score: Number of points required to win a round.
Friendly Fire: In a player match, whether teammates can damage each other.
Private Slots: In a player match, number of player slots reserved for friend invites.
Weapons Swapped: In a player match, whether the person who sets up the match can determine whether weapons that appear in the maps are replaced or removed.

3 Intriguing Video Game News Bites

  1. Nights on Wii - Yes the numerous rumors from last week have been officially confirmed and no, it is not an April Fool's Joke. Saturn and other Sega Hardcore fans rejoice! Sonic Team has confrimed working on the new Nights: Journey into Dreams, though Naka is not. Hope it isn't as awful as the next-gen Sonics have been.

  2. Gears of War is getting an Update- Along with the standard patches and bug fixes, Xbox 360 owners will get a brand new gametype called Annex. The best's free! Epic will release more details on the fixes, gametype soon. The update is currently being reviewed by Microsoft.

  3. And in order to cover all 3 systems, for those of you who missed the HUGE Grand Theft Auto IV unveiling last week for Playstation 3 and Xbox 360. Here it is...It's really in line with expectations...all the video reveals is that it's in Liberty City and has better graphics...shocking!

Virtua Tennis 3 Review

Virtua Tennis 3 is just shy of being a great title. It is very approachable and a lot of fun, but there are some misses that really get under you skin and detract from the experience…most aren’t even gameplay related, but they still detract from what could be a AAA title.

Gameplay: 9/10
Pros: The ‘tennis’ games are fast and furious and are simple to play, but deep to master. If you get bored of matches there are a TON of challenging and deep minigames. Stay away from Fusion Frenzy 2 and let Virtua Tennis satisfy your minigame craving.
Cons: In world tour mode, you play the same pros over and over again. Before you reach rank 200, they are awful…Federer can’t even get to a ball and hits it right back to you! He’s #1 in the world and would certainly cream #300 in the world…why not use custom created characters to fill the lower ranks? Playing against pros all the time severely detracts from the realism and allure of playing the recognizable stars of tennis. The game is a little easy until you reach rank 200 or so and then picks up significantly. I won all the games without losing a point up until the Advantage series (rank 204+).

Graphics: 8.5/10
Pros: Very crisp visuals and excellent animation. The court remembers where each shot hits and where you stand and run the most (white lines wear off, grass shows wear etc.) which is really cool. Create-a-character is always a plus.
Cons: Digital Sharapova doesn’t look at all like her real-life counterpart, and while this is the most glaring there are a couple other pros that just look a little off. Textures are almost nonexistent in the game…clothing is completely smooth…and just make some of the graphics bland.

Sound/Music: 8/10
Pros: Decent announcer, nice music, with perfect tennis swat and bounce sound effects. The music and chimes of world tour are soothing. A nice tone down or real world grunts.
Cons: No voice work for the pros and a lack of variety for sound effects in the minigames.

Lasting Appeal: 7.5/10
Pros: The world tour mode is long with a lot of different minigames to master, the tennis action is great and fun. Multiplayer both locally and online works well and offers a lot of replay value and pick-up-and play appeal.
Cons: The missed beats in the world tour mode detract from the feel of the game and really get under my skin…mostly because they are easily remedied. The Virtua Tennis framework has remained relatively unchanged since the original and its time for Sega to take us to the next level and give us something new. They are resting on their laurels.

Average: 82.50%
Tilt: -1.50%
This game is simply not worth $60 in my book. If it was priced at $40 it would be perfect and an absolute must buy, but it’s just not ‘next-gen’ enough to warrant the $60 price tag. Is the core Virtua Tennis gameplay great?..yes…but VT3 doesn’t offer much that’s new or innovative, and while offering competition on Xbox Live is fabulous, I can’t help feel that this title was a couple changes shy of greatness.

Verdict: 81%