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Akermans Arcade Asylum A Touch of the Obscure

April 12, 2010

Akerman’s Arcade Asylum – A Touch of the Obscure
By Nick Akerman

There is an old friend here, but several titles that are also flying under the radar

This must be the most obscure column I've ever written. Apart from the return of an old friend in Mega Man, appearances are made from mammal unicyclists, gnarly wakeboarders, robotic bouncing balls and we take a potato-dodging journey through the sky. To top it all off, we'll even stop off at the nearest hospital to witness an extreme birth technique. Intrigued? You should be, as this week's column provides enough obscurity to make Lady Gaga feel overwhelmed.

 

Mega Man 10 (Xbox Live Arcade, PlayStation Network and WiiWare)

Based on the 8-bit formula of the original games, Mega Man 10 has been introduced with a number of goals in mind. Veterans of the series will enjoy the familiar feeling of overcoming threats with routine efficiency, but alas, new players can approach the series like never before. This incarnation includes the much anticipated Easy Mode, a factor that has been missing for far too long in the Mega Man series.

For those who've avoided Mega Man's outings like robotic influenza, there's a decent game to play through here. Of course, it's that futuristic flu that's causing all the trouble, as robot companions fail to compute, and eventually turn the world into a war zone. Whether there's enough original ideas here to keep purists happy is another question, as the game isn't overly long, and fails to add anything new to proceedings. Still, with tight gameplay and a nostalgic retro feel, it's great to see Mega Man strolling across our screens again.

Old Spice Racers (Xbox Live Indie Games)

Unicycle fans unite: there's finally a game featuring your single-wheeled brethren. Sure, it's a cartoon, completely bizarre and oddly repetitive, but these things work in Old Spice Racers' favor. You'll sprint across colorful pipes as bears, old men and a host of other strange creatures, with a single objective in mind. This may be reaching the finish as fast as possible, trying to overcome sticky sludge that locks your wheel, or it may be trying to ramp up a high score on an outlandish half-pipe.

Whatever the challenge, Old Spice Racers keeps you on your toes. Memorizing a track is the best way to produce a competitive time, as there are various sections that force you to change your momentum. Needless to say, heading towards a giant loop is going to take perfect judgment and skill in order for you to make it out in one piece. This is definitely worth a shot if you're looking for some softcore Trials HD action.

Wakeboarding HD (PlayStation Network)

If there's anything addictive about Wakeboarding HD, it's not the gentle waves, vibrant visuals or intense challenge, it's the leaping over giant rubber ducks. It seems that attaching yourself to the end of a boat is a linear and predictable experience, so you're going to have to make the most of what you've got to play with.

This title urges you to crash through wooden boats, surf across and through roofs, and even traverse deadly minefields as often as possible. You're set a number of objectives for every circuit, and must complete enough of them to progress to the next level. It's decent fun, but the entire game feels predictable, as you take the same route every single time. All you can do is swing from side-to-side and hope you rack up enough points to progress. And when bailing out is so easy, frustration creeps in on a game that could have been so much more. It's well-produced, but carved out with the prowess of an armless sculptor.

Blazin' Balls (Xbox Live Indie Games)

A simple title, Blazin' Balls provides a robotic Super Monkey Ball experience. There's a lot less thrills, and the dousing of color is nowhere to be seen, but this title is certainly worth a shot.

You must guide your ball across a pit-filled maze, and collect as many coins as possible. It really is as simple as that. Various stages induce a level-changing effect to mix things up, but for the most part, Blazin' Balls is all about precision and forward-thinking. Are you going to reach that coin without landing in the bottomless hole, or is it best to stay clear? There's enough risk and reward here to make things exciting, as this title does its best to knock you off your stride with inverting tracks, changes in speeds and endless amounts of jumps. Another indie game to add to the futuristic pile that's built up over recent months.

Baby Maker Extreme (Xbox Live Indie Games)

Last time on AAA we featured Avatar Cannon, a title that tasked players with launching their online presence across numerous animals and as far through the desert as possible. This week, things get a little weirder. In Baby Maker Extreme you're first tasked with delivering a human child (or your avatar) by following QTE's, a process that allows you to build up power ready for launch. Simple, if a little unsettling.

The real fun comes from the birth itself. This is no ordinary child, as you fire out your mother's legs and across the hospital, ready overcome any obstacles that may lay ahead. You've got the ability to boost your flight or to dive down onto momentum giving machines, in this humorous take on the popular formula. For the love of god, please nobody ask the expectant mother if she can do the ping pong ball trick- we expect she could shot putt for Russia with that delivery.

Super Avatar (Xbox Live Indie Games)

It was promised at the start of the column, and here it is. Travelling through the sky at immense speed, this is a simple QTE based challenge to dodge incoming obstacles. Of course, these obstacles can be mashed up and placed alongside a roast dinner, as potatoes are your main enemy here.

There's not much to it, despite deserving a mention for being the only game we can think of that pits you against vegetable based explosives. Not exactly time consuming or worth your cash, but the free trial provides enough insight for you to understand that the avatar-based game is well and truly getting more surreal by the week.

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Thanks for tuning into Akerman's Arcade Asylum. Check back soon for more delicious downloadable content.

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