From the game tomb to YOUR Game Room!


With Playstation Home making such an impact here on the fellow DPAD Dependants, I, for one, was getting excited at the prospect of Microsoft showing some strong competition with their innovative new community experiment, ‘Game Room’. Home is a fantastic concept, and much as I enjoy my short excursions there, the blood in my veins is green, and as a result I find it genuinely hard to pull away from my Xbox 360 in favour of its rival.

Game Room is a service from Microsoft that promises to offer a wide range of retro arcade games from the later decades of the 20th-century, in a bid to encourage users to make their own mini arcade complexes complete with every game they used to love many years ago, whilst shunning the rest. And therein lies one of the great things about the Game Room. As each game is sold individually at a very affordable price, it immediately outshines the compilations that we have been used to for numerous years, because it’s YOUR collection.

There is also the nifty little feature of being able to pay 40 Microsoft Points (30p for those not aware of the exchange rate) for one credit on any game of your choosing, giving you a chance to satisfy an urge you know will go away after a quick pop, or better still, to test the game out and decide if you’d like to fork out for the cabinet to place into your arcade.

And speaking of ‘placing’ things inside your arcade, there’s also the joy of choosing what your arcade actually looks like. I especially enjoyed my 10G reward for simply changing the theme and placing a small candlestick in one of my arcade rooms. The themes dominate the room as a whole in terms of style, and then there are eight slots along each wall for you to place either a decoration or an arcade cabinet. A nice touch, surely, but the fact that you can only select a vacant slot to decorate is a real disappointment. Fully 3D rooms with the ability to place any item anywhere within the room wouldn’t have been much more difficult to design and it would have provided a far greater sense of ownership and personalisation. The system in which you select what games to play suffers from a similar problem, in that the arcade rooms appear to be little more than an animated menu screen.

Excuse me for being a dreamer, but I had rather hoped I’d be able to stroll around my arcade with my avatar, inviting my friends to walk around with me, before we both settle at a cabinet, pop our quarters in and zoom into the game screen to commence retro goodness. This is sadly not the case, but it’s all too likely I would simply have complained it was a novelty if it were.

As for the games, there’s a nice little selection on offer the moment you load-up, with specific highlights for myself being Centipede and Asteroid (original, I know). The possibilities of future releases are endless, whereas the realities are shrouded in mystery. I, for one, am holding my breath in the hopes that some side-scrolling action games will be released, something along the lines of Sunset Riders, but from the launch line-up, this is looking somewhat doubtful, favouring games that are a bit older, and are heavily based on scores rather than narrative.

And therein lies the potential for some true Game Room glory. Perhaps one of my favourite gaming moments in 2009 was with Batman: Arkham Asylum and its fantastic Challenge Mode, purely because it’s one of the few games I could successfully beat others at (in terms of score), attaining joyous bragging rights in the process. Few games test your skill like those of the yesteryear, and should you find a group of friends who take an interest in Game Room, the ancient joy of beating someone’s high-score can easily be relived in appropriate pixelated fashion.

And to a hardcore gamer, there really is nothing quite like earning some retro bragging rights.


One Comment Add yours

  1. deadmanxiii says:

    Looking forward to getting my xbox back so i can try this. I find the fact that there is 1000 Gamerpoints associated with the Game Room is pretty clever to! It will get the achievement junkies out in force.

    I am disapointed to learn you cant walk around the arcade. I also was under the impression i was gonna be able to meet my friends in my arcade and we could share the experiance.

    EDIT: Given it a go, and i think its best to look on Game Room as a third delivery service for digital downloads simliar to XBLA. It is certainly NOT the 360s answer to Home!

    The flat rate of the games (240points) is a little steep. There are some AMAZING indie titles for a LOT less money on XBL. That said, i have found Batlantis on there. I last saw this game in the late 80s in my local swimming baths, its a real joy to see a real lost gem from my past getting relaunched.

    I guess XBLA has evolved past the retro arcade games appearing on the service, so its nice that there IS a place for them now, but while 240points isnt bad for Batlantis, its a lot of dosh to play Asteroids. Especially when Shoot 1UP, Decimation X and I MAED A GAM3 W1TH Z0MB1ES are 80points each and they are frickin awesome titles!

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