Microsoft is ramping up available GamerScore points for Xbox Live Arcade titles from 200 to 400, and to celebrate its launch of the Arcade NEXT promotional jamboree. Starting today, four special titles will be released each week to commemorate a change that will have Achievement hunters cracking their knuckles in glee.
But they shouldn’t be the only ones excited. For a few years now we’ve been kicking up a fuss about the Summer of Arcade, the time of year Microsoft seems to choose to spotlight the very best XBLA games – but this time it looks like it’s coming early. The four games in the Arcade NEXT promotion are all looking full of potential, with one or two of them arguably likely contenders for end-of-year accolades. We preview the four games that Microsoft are collectively calling Arcade NEXT, but maybe it’s best to think of them as 2012’s Spring of Arcade.
What is it? The long-awaited follow-up to Trials HD, the 2009 XBLA game that combined Excitebike-like 2D motocross with obstacle-swamped tracks to make for a brilliant physics-based puzzler/racer.
Why should I be excited? Ask those who’ve played it and they’ll tell you Trials HD is some of the most fun you can have with an Xbox controller. The game has such simple controls: one button to accelerate, one to brake, and gentle taps of the left stick to make your rider lean forward or back. The genius is how precise it all is; the slightest bit of movement can totally wreck your trajectory. This becomes crucial as the game slowly but surely ramps up the challenge and complexity of the tracks, throwing in all manner of huge jumps, explosive landings, fragile platforms, and watery graves between you and that all-important checkpoint. Yet the challenge isn’t just to complete tracks but to do so quicker than your Xbox Live friends. All of this comes together to make a very challenging puzzler/race and yet for all the punishment the one-more-go factor is astronomical.