news\ Sep 27, 2011 at 3:58 pm

Akermans Arcade Asylum Going Mainstream

April 25, 2010

Akerman’s Arcade Asylum – Going Mainstream
By Nick Akerman

Downloadable world is suiting up and donning some great action attire

What do you get if you cross an arcade beat 'em up, a death-defying battle in the sky, and some extremely angry Japanese fighters? The basis for this week's column of course! Throw in a sprinkle of controlled puzzle action, and we have an absurdly mainstream article that steers away from weirdness and potential offence for one week only. As the great summer games haul begins, even the downloadable world is suiting up and looking to score major sales with some top releases.

Final Fight: Double Impact - (PlayStation Network and Xbox Live Arcade)

Although far more rigid and less visually enthralling than '90s peer Streets of Rage, Final Fight is the kind of game that makes you feel powerful. It's side-scrolling beat 'em up action makes wearing tight leather pants with slicked-back hair acceptable, as you just feel like a man who should have his jacket flung over one shoulder, spewing lines like “Stay in school, kid” while playing it.

Narrative wise, it's a lot of fun. Mike Haggar tracks down his martial arts friends Cody and Guy in order to hunt down his missing daughter. Needless to say, there's hundreds of goons to plough through, all inspired by popular wrestlers or biker gangs and groups from the time. The two-button attack system is less extravagant than many fighters from the time, and certainly less satisfying than Streets of Rage, but a one-side ass-whooping can be dealt out nevertheless. The arcade style presentation only adds to this package that also includes lesser known title Magic Sword, which provides needed variation from Final Fight's urban setting.

While this title is unlikely to attract many new fans, Final Fight is still an entertaining adventure throughout. Maybe it's something about '90s games that evokes fond memories for us, but swallowing an entire burger or kicking through a door with one hit still makes us want to get up and walk down the road with unprecedented swagger. Definitely worth a shot for fighter fans, as Capcom have released a well-rounded and thorough package.

After Burner Climax (PlayStation Network and Xbox Live Arcade)

If you've never experienced the extreme speed and chaotic gameplay of the After Burner arcade series, then this HD update should serve as a perfect introduction. Taking control of a high-tech fighter jet, it's your journey to rid the sky of evil. And my god, is there a lot of evil.

They say first impressions are the most vital, and After Burner Climax goes along with this notion. As soon as you take off you'll be whisked into a dog-fight that plays out like you're on hyped up on speed and coffee - such is the grand pace and relentless onslaught of enemy air crafts. Your jet is packed with explosive fire-power, allowing players the choice between unleashing slow but devastating missiles or the constant threat of weaker machine gun fire.

The true beauty of After Burner Climax is that it looks stunning for a downloadable title. Just like in Outrun, you can choose your own route at certain points, meaning you could end up flying through the desolate walls of a deserted canyon or across the lava-spewing pits of an active volcano. It's poetry in motion, as this title offers risk and reward for players who like daredevil antics. If all else fails, hop into Climax mode to slow down time and take down those pesky insurgents before they get a chance to scream for mercy.


Puzzle Chronicles (PlayStation Network and Xbox Live Arcade)

Seemingly available on every popular format right now, Puzzle Chronicles is an interesting title, straight from the realms of Puzzle Quest and other jewel smashing/fantasy hybrids. Largely text based, Puzzle Chronicles incorporates an attractive world of magic, strategy, and forward-thinking.

The actual premise of the game is simple, and much more akin to Tetris than Bejeweled or other similar games. You must match up lines of coloured shapes that travel towards the centre of the screen in order to build up attacks. Once enough have been matched, you'll see your character take a swipe at the enemy in an on-screen battle representation. Throw in the ability to use war beasts and other items, and you have a superbly well-crafted and challenging adventure to embark on.

Puzzle Chronicles certainly rewards those who put the practice in, as your experience will show when lining up potential gems. As they're many different types to get in order, there's more scope here for your own style of play to come to the fore. It's a fascinating formula, and one that is sure to be overlooked by many for the more obvious appeal of After Burner Climax or Final Fight, but we urge you to give this one a try. 

Tokyo 2029 A.D (Xbox Live Indie Games)

It's not often an indie game gets published with the violence and sexual content boundaries as high as they can be, but Tokyo 2029 A.D is an addictive creation. Addictively bloodthirsty, that is. Team Shuriken have no qualms in highlighting their inspiration for this title, as Mortal Kombat seeps through every gruff announcement, character design and fatality move.

There is a difference though, as rather than a one on one fight, this is a three-way battle. Players are urged to land successive blows without getting hit themselves. This is the only way to build up your finishing move meter and to end the brawl, and means there's huge strategic value when battling with friends. If an opponent launches a finishing move and it doesn't hit you, you'll still be deemed successful and will move on to the next stage. Be prepared to work your way through an excellent range of settings including ruins, night clubs and even an underground fighting society, as Tokyo's presentation is superb for an indie title.

We look forward to Team Shuriken's next project, which hints at revolving round a bikini-clad, light-saber wielding babe. I can almost hear the sigh of excitement come out from under the Star Wars geeks' Darth Vader masks.

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Join me next time on AAA, where we celebrate the re-opening of UK airspace by indulging in some more delightful downloadable goodness.


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