Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Video game number seventy eight: Game Room

Video game review number seventy eight in my 365 Games in 365 Days project is "Game Room".

Is this a game, or is it 100 games? One cannot be certain.

Game Room is a really strange application that can be used on the Xbox 360 or the PC. It's awesome and suck-tastic, all at the same time.

The awesome parts: Game Room is a virtual arcade on your console. The arcade is giant, like a 2-story mall, and each room is completely customizable. You can change the backgrounds (one is an 80's cafe, there's an Atari themed room, a graveyard, etc). You can put props in your arcade (change machines, lava lights, skateboards, disco balls, etc, etc). Your friends can come visit your arcade and check out your game collection. You can send challenges to your friends when you get a high school, and they'll have a week or so to try and beat them. These are all great things.

The suck-tastic parts: In order to participate in game challenges, or get most of the achievements in this're going to have to spend 3 bucks a pop on classic games that you want to put into your virtual arcade. The trouble with this, is that you can play them for free, right now...on any of 100 sites online. You can use MAME to play them on your phone. You can even search Ebay for the Atari games, and pay less than 3 bucks each for most of them. If you want all 1000 gamerscore in this game, you're going to have to spend around 100 dollars buying old games for your arcade.

I liked playing Asteroids. I don't know if it was worth 3 dollars (I own it in the Game Room and I haven't played 12 quarters worth yet). Centipede was fun, but it feels really old. There are some other games I used to be a fan of, like Tempest and Combat. I look forward to trying them out, but I'm not sure I need to "own" them. Especially if they don't have 200 gamerscore each. Something about buying something I can (legally) play for free online...bothers me.

Here are a ton of improvements this game could use. These things would make it really cool.

The economy needs improvement. They could allow your friends to play your games in your arcade for free. They could sell the games in cheap packs (10 for 500 points or something) and then make money selling tokens to your arcade visitors. This would make it much more viral.

The arcade itself needs improvements. For one thing, you should be able to walk around in it (1st person, like Sony home). There should be it's a meeting room or a lobby. You should be able to launch your existing arcade games from Game Room. People should be able to watch over your avatar's shoulder as you play a game...and see a live feed of it, like they can "spectate" in other shooter or racing games out now. High scores should be available to anyone, whether they own the game or not. If my friend beats my score, even if I don't own the game, and he only paid one token to do it...I'll definitely pay to beat him. The props should be interactive. I want to be able to play with a jukebox, or an arcade cabinet. I want to ride the little skateboards, or play air hockey or something. I should be able to "skin" my arcade the way you can skin a car in Forza 3. Let designers make and sell Game Room skins.

Overall score: 5/10. As I've called out above, this game could be improved. A lot. As it stands, it's worth the free price they're selling it for....and you can get some free gamerscore from it, which is cool. Before you go spending 5000 points on classic games for your arcade, I'd play the demos a bit and find out if that's REALLY what you want to spend your money on. There are some Call of Duty maps coming out next week, and to me...those are a much better value.

Achievements? One reason I suppose you could play this game. They're not hard to get, if you're willing to part with lots of MS points.

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