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Xbox Live Arcade Demystified

Xbox Live Arcade

When looking for a high definition game experience the casual game market does not come to mind. Yet proving how unpredictable and expanding the HD Game scene is, we found not 1, but three HD Games supported by Xbox Live Arcade.

Xbox Live Arcade – Explained
Xbox Live Arcade is Microsoft’s attempt to capture the casual gamer by providing games that have “broad-appeal” through Microsoft’s Xbox Live service for a nominal fee.

Xbox Live Arcade does not require you to have a subscription to the Xbox Live service to play any game you have purchased or to play any game demo you have downloaded.

Xbox Live Arcade Screenshot

Xbox Live Arcade Screenshot

Xbox Live Arcade does require a subscription to Xbox Live to download additional demos or to convert a game demo to a full version by paying a fee. The purchase price will be billed directly to your Xbox Live account.

Microsoft has also promised a new Xbox Live Arcade game will be released each month.

All Xbox Live Arcade games are required to have a downloadable demo, to promote a try before you buy atmosphere. Demos are like shareware and developers employ different mechanisms to limit each demo’s functionality. Some of these mechanisms include:

  • Time limit
  • Limited number of levels
  • Play modes disabled
  • No Xbox Live support
  • Inability to save
  • Single game

For more information visit the following pages at the official Xbox website:

Xbox Live Arcade – How to Get a Copy
Xbox Live Arcade is known to have two versions, retail and OXM. Currently you can acquire each Xbox Live Arcade version by using one of the following methods:

  • Retail Xbox Live Arcade
    • Available for $4.99 US ($7.99 CDN) thru the Xbox.com :: Xbox Live Arcade :: Fulfillment page
    • Available as a promotional item with various Xbox Games, sometimes a preorder is needed to get the Xbox Live Arcade disc as a promotional item
  • OXM Xbox Live Arcade
    • Available in the OXM June 2005 Issue Disc #45

Xbox Live Arcade – Version Differences
The difference between the “retail” Xbox Live Arcade and the OXM Xbox Live Arcade are the preloaded game demos. Here is the breakdown:

  • Retail Xbox Live Arcade
    • Full Version of Mrs. Pac Man
    • No Demo Version games included
  • OXM Xbox Live Arcade
    • No Full Version games included
    • The following are Demo Version games:
    • Alien Sky
    • AstroPop
    • Bankshot Billiards
    • Bejeweled
    • Dangerous Mines
    • Fuzzee Fever
    • Guardian
    • Hardwood Solitaire
    • Mutant Storm
    • Ricochet Lost Worlds
    • Super Collapse! 2
    • Zuma

The benefit of the OXM Xbox Live Arcade to people without an Xbox Live subscription is a chance to try the 12 game demos listed above, since even if they got a “retail” version of Xbox Live Arcade they would have no way of downloading additional demos.

The benefit of the OXM Xbox Live Arcade to people with an Xbox Live subscription is to save them the hassle and time involved downloading the 12 game demos listed above.

Xbox Live Arcade – Download Only Games
Looking at the Xbox.com :: Xbox Live Arcade :: What Games Are Available? page we can see that the following games are not included in either disc:

  • Atomaders
  • Feeding Frenzy
  • Namco Vintage: Pole Position, Dig Dug, and Galaga

Remember if you have an Xbox Live subscription you can download a demo of any game you are missing for free.

Xbox Live Arcade – Missing Games
Looking at previous press coverage of Xbox Live Arcade the following games were mention but have yet to be released for download:

  • Hamsterball
  • Tradewinds
  • Poker

Xbox Live Arcade – High Definition Games
The games that support HD 720p resolution are:

  • Bankshot Billiards
  • Mutant Storm
  • Ricochet Lost Worlds
    • Note: The playable area of the game is only 4×3, the same as Soul Calibur 2.

Xbox Live Arcade – Commentary
I found it pretty shocking to see Xbox Live Arcade support anything higher than 480p. Yet looking back at these games I can understand why HD resolutions are feasible when running on a powerful machine like Xbox. With so little processing power being used by the game it’s not very difficult for developers to support HD resolutions.

With Microsoft supporting Xbox Live Arcade on Xbox 360 I would not be surprised if Microsoft required all new Xbox Live Arcade games to support a minimum of HD 720p, although, classic games should remain in their native resolution.

I do have one complaint about Xbox Live Arcade, the price for full versions. I would never buy the full versions of these games because of the ridiculous prices either Microsoft or the actual Game Developers are asking ($9.99 – $14.99 – $19.99). In my opinion these games might be worth $0.99 at most. Similar games can be found in the open source game scene for free.

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