What is Spelunky? Well, it's a game that's "as generous as it is bloodthirsty," with "astonishing creativity and spectacular depth." First appearing as a freeware PC game in 2008, Spelunky (previously) is a hilariously brutal and oddly addicting marriage of roguelike, platformer, and puzzler. A new version was released for Xbox Live Arcade on July 4th, with updated visuals and a warbly soundtrack that recall the days of SNES gaming, as well as a deathmatch mode that's been compared to the mayhem of Bomberman. If you're anything like me, you'll get hopelessly consumed. (Trailer. Original freeware version for PC and Mac.)
"Designed to be understood easily, these training videos are meant for new players and for those who want to see what's new in Final Showdown." As part of their promotion for Virtua Fighter 5 Final Showdown, released June 5/6 for PSN and XBLA, SEGA created surprisingly good tutorial videos to ease new players into the gameplay system of the latest iteration of AM2's Virtua Fighter series. [more inside]
Fez is a Twin Peaks/Link's Awakening/Myst/2001: A Space Odyssey mashup for cubist tetromino cryptographers.
Fez is an independently developed game available on Xbox Live Arcade. It's available for 800 Microsoft funbucks ($10 USD real world currency). [more inside]
Last week saw the first release of this year's Summer of Arcade, Bastion (Trailer 1, Trailer 2). Reactions have generally been very positive, including from the venerable Tom Chick and Kill Screen. Drawing praise are the art, writing (by game critic turned developer Greg Kasavin) and music (unofficial playlist, somewhat spoilery). But most noted has been the dynamic narration that permeates the game. [more inside]
Braid is the latest videogames-are-art posterchild. The mind-bending, time-twisting platformer is currently the most critically acclaimed XBLA game. Jonathan Blow, the designer, is something of a games philosopher. You can listen to a fascinating talk he gave on game design last year here.
Like a missing entry from Adam Pennyman's Catalogue of Obsolete Entertainments, the game Rez (previously on MeFi) combines abstract visuals with 21st century call-and-response musical theory (subscription site) for a synesthetic experience that changes through the player's on-screen interactions. Playing through four levels; Earth, Mars, Venus, Uranus, and Eden the player's avatar evolves within a sentient computer network as you attempt to free the core AI from suicidal depression. Woefully underpromoted upon release everywhere except Japan, and with few merchandise opportunities available to it, the game slipped into obscurity and attained cult status, retaining almost full value on the second-hand Dreamcast and PS2 markets. Unfortunately for the second-hand market, HD Rez has recently been announced for X-Box Live Arcade in early 2008 in glorious Hi-Def and 5.1 surround. Rejoice!