Arcade is where the heart is.

After the¬†disappointment¬†of the lack split screen in Dead Island, we found ourselves without a new co-op game to play. So as we have started to do more and more recently we turned to the XBOX Live Arcade for help, in between grabbing levels of Gears of War 2 ūüėČ

After trying a few demos which show promise for future purchases, namely Toy Soldiers Cold War and Space Marine Kill Team, we decided on the dungeon crawler Crimson Alliance. The pay structure is a little odd, the game itself is free and then you pay for character packs, which are even more oddly done in that a single character is a rather¬†hefty¬†800 MSP whilst the all 3 character pack is just the usual Arcade game price of 1200 MSP. Given there is an achievement to completing the game once with each character type I’d advice most people to go for the full pack. Another oddity is there are three¬†characters¬†but the game is set up for four player teams, perhaps a sign for future character types to be released?

The game play seems fun, if relatively standard fare. Linda took on the role of¬†Assassin, which was an easy choice given it’s the only female character (seriously¬†male/female options for all classes¬†would¬†be nice if it became a standard feature in games) and I took on the caster role. Our friend @Woodoggies will become the tank like¬†fighter¬†once he has the game downloaded. Linda and I played through the first five or so levels to get a good feel for the game, the combat is quick paced and the block function essential yet tricky making building up a multiplayer tough. So far we’ve managed a x5, somewhat short of the x8 required for the achievement. Loot drops are controlled by finding chests rather than killing¬†enemies, and in general are less impressive than the items you can buy from the occasional caravan stop, and we seemed to have more than enough money to buy the best¬†item¬†at each stop.

There are also some puzzle sections, however from what we have seen so far they require all the brain power of a clever mouse, so we’re picking up health boosts and ‘soul anchors’ at a quick pace but presumably these will¬†increase¬†in difficulty. They may hinder a solo play through though, as some favour being in a multi person party so worth baring in mind it you plan to play alone.

All in all a jolly fun game, including what appears to be some replay value with score attacks and leader boards being present and correct and a medal system for rating each dungeon run you make with an achievement based incentive to gold them all.

UnderGarden Complete. DLC? Yes please!

We completed UnderGarden last night, and in the 100% all achievements way. The last level proved to have some¬†frustrating¬†sections, made frustrating by the one screen co-op during the current sections where strong currents hurtle you along at great speed leading the the secondary player to be constantly¬†disappearing¬†and¬†re-spawning. ¬†However it wasn’t so frustrating as to spoil our fun of the game and we immediatly plunged into the DLC levels which cost a stupidly low¬†140 MSP. These additional levels are frankly, HUGE. Massive areas with special flowers and musicians. However for some reason these collectables were not required to get the achievement. You just had to get to the end which seemed a little odd. Still we need to unlock the last two crystals in each level and we are yet to work out how to do so for teh final achievement, so we’ll be puzzling away on those¬†tonight.

The Lego games could really learn from UnderGarden when it comes to Achievements, we were able to unlock them all whilst playing co-op and never had to return in single player to pick any up. That’s one of the worst thing in all the Lego games, they need to fully embrace the co-op aspect.¬†Conversely¬†UnderGarden could do with taking up Legos¬†handling¬†of co-op screens. Single screen when possible then split screen when you¬†separate. I know why they’ve done it, being able to¬†separate¬†would make a few of the puzzles far easier to solve¬†removing¬†timing elements, but reworking these would be far more satisfying than the constant¬†re-spawning¬†of the second player, often at really bad times that knock the main player off at a critical moment.

But as I said, overall we still really enjoy UnderGarden, and anyone who enjoys some light puzzling with charming game play really should pick up a copy from the Live Arcade or PSN.