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360's "Summer of Arcade" 2010 lineup looks fantastic

Celebrating the season by encouraging gamers to stay indoors and play videogames, Microsoft rolled out its downloadable arcade lineup on the show floor at E3 last week. Last year’s “Summer of Arcade” brought us hot titles like Shadow Complex and Trials HD, and 2010 is looking to deliver the hits again. Here’s a glimpse of the games that will keep you out of the accursed sun starting this July.


Castlevania: Harmony of Despair

Proving that internet rumors aren’t ALWAYS wrong, Konami pulled back the curtain on Harmony of Despair, a 2D side-scroller in the tradition of franchise classic Symphony of the Night. The brainchild of SotN producer Koji Igarashi, Harmony of Despair will feature six player online co-op and a competitive mode dubbed Survival.

Promising the return of five slayers from previous Castlevania iterations, Harmony of Despair will look to revive the “Metroidvania” gameplay that made Symphony of the Night so compelling. Players will scour a vast castle for hidden offensive and defensive items and upgrade spells and abilities, though Igarashi made it clear that the game doesn’t include a traditional experience points mechanic. The map, a honeycomb of dozens of rooms linked horizontally and vertically, can be viewed at three levels of zoom, the furthest out of which allows players to view the entire castle at once while retaining control of their character.


Hydro Thunder Hurricane

The follow up to a decade-old franchise created by now defunct pub/dev Midway, Hydro Thunder Hurricane is an arcade-style boat racer with some impressive looking water physics.

Indie developer Vector Unit is looking to pump up the crazy across eight themed tracks, including an ice level, a gaudy temple, and a speed run through the always entertaining Area 51. The game’s frenetic pace is amplified by speed boosting power-ups and the ability for boats to leap off the surface of the water to access shortcuts such as elevated caves. We’ve had hands-on with this one, and fans are in for a treat – it feels just like an evolved take on the original game, and most of the boats are returning favorites (with new paint jobs). Best of all, Hurricane promises support for up to eight players online and four players locally, and offers the intriguing option to blend local and online multiplayer – so you could have two people playing split screen on the couch, but simultaneously competing online against a full field of online challengers.


Lara Croft and the Guardian of the Light

Lara Croft’s latest tomb-delving adventure is a radical new direction for everyone’s favorite busty corpse robber, a top-down isometric platformer that’s heavy on co-op mechanics and gunplay. When Ms. Croft’s artifact looting endeavors are interrupted by a gang of heavily armed mercs, a relic called the Mirror of Smoke is disturbed and an evil entity unleashed, prompting Lara to scamper alluringly around temples and shoot a bunch of human beings and undead creatures in the face.

Aside from being the first Lara Croft game that doesn’t feature the words Tomb or Raider in the title, it’s also the first in which Lara works alongside a partner – specifically, the titular Guardian of Light, a 2,000 year old Maya gentleman named Totec. The perfect accompaniment to Lara’s acrobatic shenanigans, Totec can fling spears that stick into walls and act as platforms, or even become a platform himself by giving Lara a boost. And though spears are clearly useful, Totec will eventually have access to all kinds of modern firearms and remote-denoted bombs, all of which he handles with impressive ease considering he should be beguiled by anything more complex than a bow and arrow. Lara can get her hands on the same arsenal, and can also deploy a grappling hook to scale up or swing off pieces of the environment, or tether herself to Totec to pull him up after her. Physics!

17 comments

  • grizzly311 - June 26, 2010 1:31 p.m.

    Was hoping summer of arcade would include Deathspank, Monkey Island 2, Shank, and Comic Jumper. Limbo looks OK, but I've already played Braid enough. Must say I'm disappointed.
  • Mexiflan - June 25, 2010 8:58 p.m.

    I'm sold with Limbo. Looks awesome.
  • JustinSane - June 25, 2010 11:21 a.m.

    why does your video player suck so bad? constant choppiness makes videos unwatchable.
  • philipshaw - June 25, 2010 10:47 a.m.

    Not as good as last year and most of these games are coming to PSN anyway. Also PSN just got Joe Danger
  • Spybreak8 - June 25, 2010 9:18 a.m.

    Hmmm the question is do I grab them this summer or possibly wait a whole year when they're at a reasonable price lol.
  • garnsr - June 25, 2010 3:48 a.m.

    Are any or all of these XBLA exclusive? Lara Croft isn't, is it? I'm confused, and this article doesn't help.
  • HaVoK308 - June 25, 2010 1:25 a.m.

    Add Shank, Death Spank, Comic Jumper, and Hydrophobia to my list as well. I am as excited for all these Arcade titles as I am any AAA game. Might take me well into the winter to play them all...but play them all I shall!
  • ihopethisisnotantistasblood - June 25, 2010 1:21 a.m.

    i liked 2008 and 2009 more
  • CH3BURASHKA - June 24, 2010 11:34 p.m.

    Apparently Monday Night Combat started off as an XNA title. Way to go, dudes that made it.
  • Doctalen - June 24, 2010 11:28 p.m.

    I enjoyed the demo of Symphony of the Night very much. I am dissappointed with my self for not buying the full game of Symphony of the Night, but since Harmony of Despair, I think I will buy both of them.
  • JADENkOTOR - June 24, 2010 11:25 p.m.

    Not much looks like it will be even close to what we got last year... Trials and Shadow were ballin out of control and set the bar pretty high. Limbo looks cool but im not sure how it will play.
  • Cyberninja - June 24, 2010 11:24 p.m.

    i wish castlevaina was mulitplat i would buy it the day before it was relased if possable and i would make it possable
  • JohnnyMaverik - June 24, 2010 11:13 p.m.

    @ oufour, I woulden't be suprised if we see it come to steam sometime after the 360 release.
  • RebornKusabi - June 24, 2010 11:07 p.m.

    I'm really looking forward to Limbo; it's an interesting concept and I love the visual style of the game a whole lot.
  • oufour - June 24, 2010 11:06 p.m.

    god i wish limbo was multipaltform....
  • D0CCON - June 24, 2010 11:03 p.m.

    Really excited for Limbo and I plan on at least trying Monday Night Combat. It's been awhile since I've played Castlevania, so I might try that demo, too. However, I'm most excited for two games coming out this summer that aren't on the list, Breach and Blacklight: Tango Down.
  • JohnnyMaverik - June 24, 2010 10:48 p.m.

    Limbo & Castlevania looks awesome, Hydro Thunder & Monday Night Combat look ok, Lara Croft game... eh.

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