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XBLA Roundup: Puzzles, Bobbles, Gyros and Towers

Jonathan Lester
Arkedo, Globe Clicker, Gyromancer, KOF: Sky Stage, PUZZLE BOBBLE Live, Puzzle Chronicles, Sonic Adventure, Tower Bloxx Deluxe, XBLA, XBLA roundup

XBLA Roundup: Puzzles, Bobbles, Gyros and Towers

Welcome once again to Microsoft's weekly selection of moneysaving offers that help to soften the blow of Xbox Live Gold subscription. This time around the theme is brainteasing puzzles: so a selection of cerebral and frantic titles have been price-slashed for your delectation. Naturally the links below will whisk you away to the Xbox Live marketplace, where Gold members will need to sign in to witness the new price levels. Remember to try before you buy!

PUZZLE BOBBLE Live is a shiny new take on an absolutely classic license. Just in case you don't know, the aim of the game is to match bubble clusters to clear the board- whilst hindering the player on the opposite side of the screen. The gameplay is intact, but the new HD graphics and slick presentation really helps to push the brand into the current generation. Well worth checking out for fans and newcomers alike- especially at this lower price.

Gyromancer is an acquired taste. It purports to be a puzzle/RPG hybrid a la Puzzle Quest... but underneath is a pure puzzle game with very little in terms of Role Playing actually present whatsoever. The Bejeweled Twist mechanics make for a solid framework for the battles, which frequently requires the player to make tactical sacrifices for long term benefits. The "idle twist" mechanic soon punishes anything other than genuinely solid moves-and whilst some players will immediately hate the increased difficulty, fans of tactical slow puzzling will get their kicks out of this one.

Tower Bloxx Deluxe is a simple concept that was arguably never worth the full 800 points. Precariously balancing buildings atop each other is a fun gimmick at first, but the limited campaign mode soon becomes repetitive and uninteresting. 400 points is a much more attractive proposition, however- and if the thought of training your architectural skills by creating insanely towers floats your boat, I'd recommend at least checking out the demo.

We "reviewed" Puzzle Chronicles along with AfterBurner Climax... and suffice to say, it's fairly unremarkable. Seriously, I can't think of a single exciting thing that I enjoyed about it... apart from the fact that it's a solid game. It's now the same price as the original Puzzle Quest- so if you're craving some gem-based puzzling, you could do worse than downloading the demo and trying it out for yourself.

Arkedo 02 demonstrates once again that Indie Games can rival (and frequently overshadow) their XBLA counterparts. The presentation is both slick and exceptionally charming- and the gameplay is both accessible and increasingly manic. Highly recommended.

Globe Clicker is a novel concept that's designed to improve your knowledge of basic geography, challenging players to rotate the globe and identify locations in the quickest time possible. It may sound like an interactive version of the Wii's Weather Channel, but the gameplay is surprisingly addictive once you get used to it.


Sonic Adventure is finally here! My short time with the preview trial version indicated that the classic Dreamcast title is set to deliver its trademark variety of gameplay styles and some serious value thanks to the multiple campaigns of its protagonists. Sonic's stages are insanely quick and feature ridiculous visual feedback, whereas Knuckles uses his abiltiy to climb and glide in order to hunt Chaos Emeralds through overworld levels. Oh, and Big the Cat provides a fishing sim, if you're so inclined. I'll have a review for you soon enough... but it's unclear whether my nostalgic memories will hold up to intense scrutiny.

Finally, King of Fighters: Sky Stage has also been released. It's not (as I erroneously said earlier, many thanks everyone for pointing it out) a functional and servicable fighter with a funky graphical style... rather, it's a bizarre amalgam of SHMUP and martial arts. I'm unconvinced that it works convincingly- but it's certainly an innovative take on the rather tired series.

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