Games I had no idea were on Xbox Live


Perhaps I have, indeed, been living under rocks, or working my “real world” job too much, or too worried about my backlog of games, but just for a fun weekend update, I thought I would write up a list of several games (mostly recent) that I had NO IDEA were on Xbox Live Arcade.

I’m not necessarily saying I like this games, just that I had no idea that existed for us Xbox Live users! In some cases, I know so little about them, I’ll be checking out demos in the near future, and I encourage you to do the same, if a title is new to you! It’s worth noting that none of the games listed below are Xbox Live Indie Games, even if they sound like it – so you should expect to be rewarded with gamerscore if you play these!

MLB Stickball
Sonic & Knuckles
Domino Master
Ms. Pac-Man
Aqua
Ben 10 The Rise of the Hex
Gin Rummy
Minesweeper Flags
Puzzle Arcade
Phantasy Star II
Super Contra
Rainbow Islands Towering Adventure

Microsoft wants in Handhelds, but how?

How do you merge an Apple iPad with Microsoft’s Project Natal? That must be what is going through the minds of Microsoft execs right now. More on that idea in a moment.

As many other media outlets have reported on potential shakeups happening within Microsoft, and ZDNet specifically reporting that J. Allard was leaving due to the cancellation of the Microsoft Courier, an iPad like device.

It seems likely, to me, that problems must have arisen from the Courier not being as user friendly as the Apple iPad, or as Microsoft would like. As the Zune trails behind the iPod, and even Windows Mobile cowers in a corner behind relative newcomer Google’s Android, Microsoft must be looking for a good IN to the handheld device market. But with the lackluster sales of the PSP in this country, wanting to do a handheld video game console to compete head-to-head with the Nintendo DS doesn’t seem like a smart choice, either.

The success, to me, of the iPad comes from the success of the iPhone and iPod Touch. The iPad commercials airing, which state “you already know how to use it” are true enough. The simple interface design makes using these handheld and tablet devices a breeze. With Microsoft set to fully reveal the details of Project Natal at E3 in less than a month, the discussion at Microsoft must be fast and furious. A phone simply isn’t powerful enough for gaming – not like they would like to do, not to make it run something as complex as an Xbox Live Arcade game. Having access to my LiveID on my phone will be a fun feature, touted in Windows Mobile Phone 7 Series, but the level of integration has not been explained.

So the question must be posed: if iPad, iPod Touch, and iPhone can share an interface, and Android phones are starting to sweep the mobile phone market with a unified design, how can Microsoft make an impact? How do you make an easy to use, consistent interface across multiple devices, when you’re about to try and make a hands free interface add on for the Xbox 360? Do you force firmware updates to the Zune and Windows phones that give it an NXE like interface? Do you ditch the NXE and make the 360 look like a ZuneHD? There are a lot of questions to be answered. Unfortunately, I’m just a blogger who asks those, and an excited techno-geek who can’t wait to see the answers.

Backorder Bonus: Win Gears of War 2 Flashback Map Pack!

When Gears of War 2 launched, the pre-order hungry gamers got a few extra multiplayer maps for free. The maps were then released on the Xbox Live Marketplace for 400 MSPoints. The map pack included five maps for an astonishingly reasonable price. Some people hated the idea that they were just “remake” maps, but Epic recognized that and made the maps essentially $1 each. The remade levels from Gears of War 1 multiplayer in this map pack are: Gridlock, Subway, Canals, Mansion, and Tyro Station.

Maybe you didn’t pre-order your game, maybe you bought the game used, and maybe you just have no intention of paying for old maps! Either way, if you still don’t have this map pack and you’re interested, here’s your chance!

All you have to do is leave a comment on this thread between now and 12:00 NOON EDT on Friday, April 9th. A comment will be chosen at random and then sent a code. If you leave your gamertag, I can easily send you the code over Xbox Live. If you do not leave a gamertag, I will only be able to contact you if you are a registered user of WinBreak.com.

[update 2] Halo Legends Sweepstakes (sorta) has achievements!


The following is essentially an unpaid commercial for something I think is pretty sweet.

Update 2: I have decided I will continue to update the code list day to day, at least until I complete all of my sets, look to the BOTTOM of the post for the latest!

Have you been following the news about the Halo Legends DVD and Blu-Ray coming soon? I’m a huge sucker for a good story, I love single player video games and their campaigns, I do enjoy the backstory of the Halo universe. In the new tradition, popularized by The Animatrix, Halo Legends will fill in a great deal of Halo lore via anime short films. To celebrate the release on February 16th, 343Industries is putting on a contest, hosted as a Facebook App. You could win everything from an Xbox 360 to copies of the movie, and Grand Prize even gets a trip for two to see 343 Industries HQ (the new home of all things Halo). To sign up, you can just visit HLSweeps.com.

To earn sweepstakes entries, all you need to do is enter the daily codes – doing so can also unlock some very hi-resolution artwork and a trailer for the Halo Legends DVD & Blu-Ray. You earn these nice little achievement bonuses by collecting the “cards” given to you with each code entered. 1 sweepstakes entry & 2 “cards” per code. If the left side of the sweepstakes page doesn’t reflect 32 entries when you’re done with what’s below, you missed something, so try a few more! Get started entering codes on the Facebook app page, and visit HLSweeps.com each day to continue entering them!

To get you on your way faster, I’ve compiled a list of codes from all participating sources. Dating from February 5th, 2010 backwards:

Codes from MySpace:
Daily Code for 02/05/10: JP9MJ9
Daily Code for 02/04/10: RCZJKG
Daily Code for 02/03/10: V9EJNE
Daily Code for 02/02/10: K7VS38
Daily Code for 02/01/10: 29PEJ8
Daily Code for 01/31/10: XB8UF3
Daily Code for 01/30/10: QJFPHP
Daily Code for 01/29/10: 5JSQ87

Codes from Twitter:
ZYMSZJ
KA9FGP
YRX22P
6BJ23J
VBCAWU
RTT75C
VK2W9D
38JCG7

Codes from HaloLegendsDVD.com:
KZJY36
QDWQ5G
HB845A
ZRUNMN
AZU2HH
QN55UN
S833B7
FHPA83

Codes from Facebook:
Daily Code for 02/05/10: 97ZA96
Daily Code for 02/04/10: MC9SPB
Daily Code for 02/03/10: FYMK4U
Daily Code for 02/02/10: 52UN9B
Daily Code for 02/01/10: B8TE96
Daily Code for 01/31/10: JUSY4U
Daily Code for 01/30/10: KSJZWA
Daily Code for 01/29/10: QT4C7T

The gaming element of the page will also reflect cards which you have “multiples” of – if you want to unlock the high resolution art or the preview video by collecting these cards, you can trade with other “collectors.” To send a card to a friend, just click the “SEND” button beneath a picture – a window will open asking you to begin typing your friend’s name and you can send away – the person must be on your friends list to send or receive cards from them. I happen to need 5 cards to complete my set: 2, 29, 30, 40, and 48 – feel free to help me out by adding me as your Facebook friend! So start entering those codes on HLSweeps.com!

Update 1: 2/6/10:
Facebook: F29Z7V
Twitter: DMAB9E
MySpace: XUQNGP
HaloLegendsDVD.com: PG9V6W

Update 2: 2/10/10:
Myspace from 2/7-2/10:
Daily Code for 02/10/10: QCE2XQ
Daily Code for 02/09/10: DRFYZF
Daily Code for 02/08/10: ZBF9JH
Daily Code for 02/07/10: RDGYM2

Facebook 2/7-2/10:
Daily Code for 02/10/10: G49DZE
Daily Code for 02/09/10: D8J5U4
Daily Code for 02/08/10: 8R3WKN
Daily Code for 02/07/10: ZE6GX3

Twitter 2/7-2/10:
2XY979
YHK4ST
SFH7YT
EYFG26

HaloLegendsDVD.com 2/7-2/10:
77XMR3
ZFKWAG
RRQ2D9
2XY979

Four Xbox Live Indie Games reviews

After looking closely at the site XBLA Ratings, I thought how very useful it could be for future players and people new to Xbox Live. I encourage anyone who hasn’t seen the site to check it out, and contribute to it, as I have.

That’s right, I took the time, today, to write up a few things that I had been considering doing write ups on for my own site, and contributing them to theirs. I believe what they’re doing is worth while, and though I may not be any huge name in the industry or anything, I just wanted to put my support behind them. I have contributed four reviews for various Xbox Live Indie games, in an attempt to bring more attention to a unique service that Xbox Live offers, and to help out some of those independant developers. Check each one out below:

Colosseum, Review.

Felix: Tale of the Night, Review.

Neo Terra, Review.

Streets of Fury, Review.

Xbox Live vs. PSN: you get what you pay for!

My head just hurts, sometimes. Whether it was this weekend’s Belicheck’s Bad Decision, or problems in the video games industry, I just want to lock my doors and hide sometimes. Infinity Ward Community Manager Robert Bowling says that the Playstation Network collapsed under too many players in Modern Warfare 2. He explained in multiple Tweets that they had to bring more servers online, supporting 20,000 users at a time. Even Glenn & Mark over at PS Nation Podcast spent more than a couple of minutes venting about the problems. My biggest complaint is that the folks at Sony clearly had no idea this was coming.

Even Sony is so used to their attachment rate being so low that the glorified BluRay player stigma has even reached into the depths of their PlayStation Network operations center.

Meanwhile, Microsoft’s people were on hand and watching the numbers climb, they were prepared, and they set the record of 2 million concurrent users on Xbox Live. Two million people using one unified service at one time. Meanwhile, the PlayStation network experienced so many problems that they had to start enabling extra servers. Go green as much as you want, but you didn’t think that maybe you should have had those servers online in preparation for such an event, then toned down the extras later?

Sony just proves, time and time again, that they are racing to play catch up with Microsoft’s Xbox Live service. Just weeks after announcing the Netflix Disc, Sony has confirmed that t heir next Firmware update will include a standalone Facebook program. Great, they get to mimic one of Xbox 360’s least demanded features, good for them. Oh, I’m sorry, when was the feature demanded since the 2007 launch, cross-game chat, coming to the PS3? Oh, right, it’s still not. It is even to a point where, even as a PlayStation 3 owner, I’m genuinely disgusted with their service. I don’t care how tired this argument is, I’m going to state the simple fact again. If it would make it better, CHARGE ME FOR IT! People are ready to take that hit, it’s obvious.

Sony passes up a gigantic revenue stream in favor of trying to look like Mr. Nice Guy. While Xbox Live costs $50 annually, and games like World of Warcraft end up costing their players a minimum of $150 each year, Sony insists that they should remain free, but it is obvious that this budget minded plan is only hurting them, and if they want to be taken seriously as anything more than my BluRay player, Sony is undoubtedly going to have to step things up in 2010, or pack in the PlayStation 3 and the PlayStation Network and start laying all new groundwork to make the PlayStation 4 regain the pride the the Sony PlayStation name once carried.

The Backorder Bonus: Halo Wars (360)

That’s right folks, it’s a Backorder Bonus! This time, the bonus download codes are for the Flame Decal Warthogs available in Halo Wars. We’ve only got Five to give away, so check down below for the details!

This one is unlike some of the other “Backorder” articles, because I haven’t made it very far in the game yet. The others, so far, I had either completed or played a large chunk of the game. Halo Wars was something I just recently decided to get back in to. I have had it sitting on my rack of games for months, with so many other games to play first, but perhaps it was the release of Halo Waypoint that pushed me over the edge. I have to squeeze a little bit of gamerscore out of this game!

Graphically the game does a lot to impress. Even though everything is scaled down with the overhead view, your favorite character types are still recognizable and still behave as they would when you encounter them in any other part of the Halo Universe. A new perspective on other things like Scarabs also adds a lot to the battle!

The control scheme isn’t always a popular topic, but when it comes to real time strategy games on the console, everyone has been worried. This may not be the new defacto standard, but is an excellent step in the right direction, with quick to access and easy to navigate menus, I was very impressed with how well the game has handled thus far!

I’m a sucker for CG, and I can’t wait for more of the Halo Universe storyline to unfold before my very eyes with some impressive voice acting and excellent imagery.

The Backorder Bonus: To win one of FIVE “Flame Decal Warthog” DLC codes, you’re going to have to get just a little creative. You’ll notice in the game that characters will sometimes blurt something out, whether it’s right after they are ‘created’ or right after they get a kill, or sometimes when under attack. This is the opportunity where the game developers can get a little crazy and have a laugh, add humorous lines. Now it’s your turn: let’s say you were IN the game, and you were a driver or gunner on the Flame Decal Warthog? What would your ‘tagline’ be? A funny saying? A war-cry? If you were under attack, would you have to say “it’s getting hot in here!”? What’s your Flame-Hog catch-phrase?

Also, as with any contest, make sure you leave me some way of contacting you (Gamertag, Twitter account, etc…) and please specify what it is, don’t just leave a name at the bottom! I’ll randomly select 4 of the 5 winners, with 1 winner of course being my favorite submission! The EARLIEST drawings will take place on November 14th, 2009, and will not end until all 5 codes are given away – if there are not 5 entries, consider the contest open until noted otherwise! Submit and win!

Note: Due to the nature of DLC codes, it is likely that these codes will only work in North America, so any entrants from outside the United States or Canada, please note that when you submit – if necessary, I will try to come up with alternative prizes!

The Backorder Bonus: Need for Speed… Shift (PS3/360)

This first Backorder Bonus is a bit of a lie. I have recently been digging in to my stash of games and playing Need for Speed Undercover. But since I also recently just upgraded from my old 20GB Xbox 360 Pro console to an Elite console, I figured I would combine the occasion in to one big blowout and give away the NFS Shift Elite Series codes I have! Skip ahead if all you want is the contest details!

First, the game. Need for Speed Undercover is the culmination of the “Underground” saga. Rather than a continuation of the Need for Speed Most Wanted and Carbon stories, it seems, so far, to be a spin off into a world of double crossing racers, crooked cops, and personal vendetta. It plays much like the Underground series, more like a racing action game, and not a racing simulator. Need for Speed Prostreet and Shift, it’s sequels, are more like the latter. These games aren’t my style, I love the consequence free ability to crash in to a wall, smash in to an opponent, and take out water towers.

With the familiar “escape” game modes and a few new outrun modes, the game has more to offer than the transition from Most Wanted to Carbon did. Though it seems to encourage less “free roam” than it’s predecessors, continually prompting you to “press down on the d-pad” to skip to the next campaign related race.

The acting is among the same quality we’re getting used to seeing in the Need For Speed saga, but much like the other games in the series, I’m forced to feel like people are talking AT me and not TO me. You have no personal connection to the character you’re playing, so even when a potential love interest looks into the camera with her puppy dog eyes and feelings of betrayal, I don’t feel like the guy who turned on her… if that’s even what just happened!?

Graphics and sound of course what you’ve come to expect from Need For Speed, but this game does leave a little wanting – the environments just seemed to stale, and all of the day time racing made me wonder who really likes the color brown? Over all I’m enjoying it, but so far, I’ve stayed offline and stuck to the campaign, as I’m sure there are people who have been playing it every day since it’s release still waiting online to leave me in the dust.

BACK ORDER BONUS: This one’s easy, folks. To enter, simply leave a comment on this thread. That’s it. I’m not even going to be a jerk and force you to register on the site… not yet! I have a whopping TWELVE codes to give away. The first 6 people to leave a PROPER comment (your PSNID or Gamertag, and/or your Twitter ID. Follow @NuAngel so that I can DM you the code if you’re a winner), will be contacted with a code. After that, the remaining 6 codes will be given away at random, with the remaining winners being decided NO EARLIER than Tuesday, November 10th, 2009. The contest runs until I’m out of codes, even if it takes longer. If you only see 11 comments and it’s January, be number 12!

What you’ll win: Need for Speed Elite Series Unlock Code. The code is entered IN-GAME. Simply go to the main menu, then the options menu, then select Redeem Code. Once entered, go to Career, then International Events – the first career race must be completed before this will show. Elite Series gives you access to FIVE special races with pre-tuned cars, available nowhere else in the game. This was a preorder exclusive offered to Gamecrazy and Amazon.com customers.

PROPER COMMENTS: All you need to do is tell me how to reach you! Leave your Gamertag / PSN ID / Twitter ID, and I can DM you the message or leave it in your inbox on any of the gaming platforms.

Preview: Bayonetta First Climax Demo

A demo was recently released on Xbox Live and Playstation Network in Japan. Luckily, we were able to get ahold of that very same demo. The game is presented by Sega, and that part becomes laughably obvious very quickly, as your character seems to have an affinity for little Gold Rings (ala Sonic the Hedgehog). I didn’t see a purpse for them in the demo, though I quickly racked up about a thousand!

I played through the demo very quickly using it’s default settings. It’s quite easy to get a basic grasp of the controls, but the tutorial mode lets you know that there is a long road ahead to becoming a master.

A few unanswered questions loom from the Bayonetta demo. Fore most in my mind, why the semi-transparent angels won’t interact with you, but fire your weapon and they’ll run like pedestrians in a Grand Theft Auto game. Still, the game play was a very fun experience.

Gameplay was very much like these 3rd person action games thrive on. Mash away at the buttons on your controller, and watch your on screen character seamlessly weave a quilt of combos.

Stealing gigantic weapons from angels, including a trumpet that acts as a rocket launcher, is a quick and easy way to turn the tables of a fight that isn’t going your way. I actually wish the battles were a little more hectic and there were a few more baddies to ping-pong your combos off of.

Anyone who has seen a review or a preview here at WinBreak before, knows that two of my pet peeves are graphics and voice acting. And unfortunately, this is where the game suffers. The music is fantastic, and picks up when you enter combat, much the way the game Wet does. Sadly, the battle clashing sounds aren’t anything ground breaking, your standard crash bam boom stuff. Voice acting is laughably terrible, including the taunt “I’ve got a fever, and the prescription is dead angels.”

The graphics also seem very PS2 era. The environments are much more beautiful and scaled more to the size we expect these days. But I can’t get over the fact that the graphics just don’t meet expectations. They feel washed out, and even the cut-scenes / FMV’s which are pre-rendered, show signs of compression – something that a game on DVD or BluRay probably shouldn’t need! It all looks too much like a PlayStation 2 era game.

The game is extremely self-aware, much like the game I already compared it to, Wet. It’s funny, a little bit camp, but it’s actually quite fun. It plays to Sega fans, and falls right in to the “hot chick kickin’ butt” category that it wants to be a part of oh so well. It’s worth checking out, but don’t expect the wonderful graphical adventure that Heavenly Sword was. But you will certainly enjoy using your feet to shoot semi-automatic weapons!

Xbox 360 to get Streaming TV in the States? In the works!

Xbox owning Americans have been thrilled to enjoy the benefits of Netflix on the Xbox 360’s. Soon we’ll get some streaming music with the Last.fm service, as well as lots of social networking addons this fall. Still, we’ve seen a lot of jealousy when it comes to Sky TV in the United Kingdom.

While we have no clue as of a timeline, it’s clear that, for about a year now, Microsoft has been working with AT&T in North America to look at the possibility of bringing AT&T’s U-Verse TV to the Xbox 360. Why do I say it’s been in the works for a year? Because nobody at Microsoft would even MENTION it if it was supposed to be a super-secret. If they’re talking about it, it must be coming along. So, even though we haven’t heard anything like “we’ll see it this holiday season,” like we expect to see the other social networking addons, this was clearly far enough along that Robbie Bach, president of Microsoft’s Entertainment &Devices Division, felt comfortable enough to talk about it clear back in April of 2009.

Well, there you have it. Nothing to worry about, right!? We’ll have TV streaming to our Xbox 360, perhaps as early as 2010! I’ve never used the AT&T U-Verse TV service, I don’t know how much of my television it can provide for me, but it sounds like a start! A lot of people still believe that a Hulu player, with no additional subscription fee, would be a great addition to the Xbox 360, and I agree. But until then, at least we can recover from the thought that we would never have anything to compete with Sky TV. Microsoft’s next secret weapon to make the Xbox 360 everyone’s “home entertainment device” of choice is clearly being worked on, and will hopefully be available by this time next year!