Ah yes, the good ole 80ís. Atari 2600, Intellivision, and even ColecoVision were the primary consoles of choice during the early to mid 80ís. Back then the next game that came out was cutting edge graphics and the newest technology out there. To this generation these games look like a bunch of square pixels bouncing around the screen, but to the older generation it is complete and wholesome gaming at its very best. Game Room delivers all the nostalgia, giddiness, and great memories that so many of us had back in our younger years. But it also introduces the new generation of gamers to a whole new world of videogames that maybe some have never once witnessed. Game Room is the final installment in the Block Party / House Party promotion from Microsoft. And I would have to say what a way to end the promotion.
Letís get right down to it. I can tell you right now when playing Game Room I am as giddy as a school girl. Sorry ladies, just a figure of speech. But seriously, most of these games in game room I vividly remember playing as a child. So what exactly is Game Room? Well, first and foremost, itís a huge compilation of classic games all in one place. You can choose to buy games outright, or just play them as if you were pumping quarters into them at the arcade. Game Room is playable on your Xbox 360 or you can play it on your PC as a Games for Windows title. When you choose to purchase a game, you can buy it for the specific platform you are on for 240 MSP or you can choose to buy it for all platforms at 400 MSP. If you choose to play it just once, then that will cost you 40 MSP.
Game Room itself is a free application you download, and then you download the latest game packs which will be themed to contain certain games. At launch there are 2 game packs available, each containing a variety of Atari 2600 and Intellivision games. Once you fire it up for the first time, youíll be able to check out plenty of games through playing demoís which are based on a certain amount of time. You can check out how to customize your own Arcade room. Or maybe just check out what your friends are doing. There is plenty to do without even purchasing or playing a game.
At the main menu screen for Game Room youíll see quite a few options. The first option ďMy ArcadeĒ allows you to go in and play games you have purchased as well as customize the look of your arcade. Your arcade consists of 3 levels and 12 rooms. You can theme each room using specific themes and props which are unlocked just by playing games in your arcade. With the simple press of a button you can switch between Play Mode and Edit Mode.
The second option you will see is My Collection. Here you will see all the games you own, dťcor, themes, and mascots youíve unlocked. You can choose to place your game cabinets you own into rooms, as well as apply themes and dťcor as well. There are 50 levels in the game you can achieve by collecting medals. Those levels intern unlock new items of dťcor for you to use.
The third option is My Profile. In this screen you can see your current level, medals you have gained, medal points and much more. Throughout the game youíll earn tokens for free plays on games you do not own, so you can check out how many you have here as well. One other thing you can do is to check what medals you have achieved in each game that is available.
The other options available are: Friends, Store, Challenges, Leader boards and News. Each one is pretty self explanatory with its title, but Iíll give you a quick rundown. The Friends option allows you to compare performances and even visit your friendís arcade. Yup, you can visit your friends arcade and play the games they have purchased. Itíll cost you 5 tokens to play their games, but you can earn tokens by friends visiting your own arcade and having them play your games. Youíll also get to see a listing of their Game Room details. The Store option allows you to obviously purchase new games, themes and arcade dťcor. The Leader board option is again self explanatory and you can compare your own scores against the world or just friends. The News option will give you the latest Game Room news including friend accomplishments, high scores made by friends, and special news.
There is one option that I would really like to mention separately from all the other. The Challenges option allows you to issue out a challenge for up to 7 friends. You select the game and the conditions such as Highest Score or Longest Survivor. You can specify the number of tries, game duration, how long the challenge lasts, and even at what point in the game you want the challenge to take place. You can even send a taunt, if you like, as well as notify them with an Xbox Live message.
Graphically the game is true to the classic titles it represents. Integrating the Xbox Live Avatars into the scene is completely awesome. I love the fact that when I am browsing through My Arcade that friend avatars are shown perusing my arcade as well. Now of course itís for show and most of the time they are actually there but it still looks cool. The games themselves are kept in their original appearance which will of course be quite comical to the younger generation. The customizable options also add some graphical flare to the game as well and allow you to theme game rooms to specific title genres whether itís the 80ís, space related, jungle related or whatever.
Awesome items are available for you to set on the floor, walls and hang from ceilings. I even liked seeing my avatar pixelized for the few moments it was when he appeared on screen. Youíll see lots of retro items such as the old Intellivision controller with the number pad. For those that donít remember or donít know, Intellivision games came with a keypad cover for each game the keypad was used. It was usually colorized with the game title written across the top. You would slide this into the controller over the keypad. Well, thatís in Game Room as well. Nice touch guys.
The sound department is probably what gave me the most chills of excitement as an old school gamer. There are so many recognizable sounds and musical tunes that it just never gets old. All the games hold original sounds, blips and corny theme songs we thought were so awesome back in the day. Midi music was where it was at.
The complete Game Room package is very well presented. Youíll have some penny pinchers complaining about having to purchase the games or that itís a complete rip off, but honestly every game is a great bargain. And the 40 MSP per play really equals out to the same price it costs you to play at any local arcade in real life, actually less. Folks, arcade units are not just a quarter to play anymore. They are more like $1.00 or more per play. So 80 MSP is a great price for one play.
Iíll just say it outright. I absolutely love Game Room. Maybe itís due to the fact that I am a 37 year old gamer, but Game Room is so much more than the classic titles it allows us to play. Youíll have social interaction with friends, plenty of customization options and well frankly just lots of fun with this title. I highly suggest to anyone that has not checked out Game Room to download it immediately. What do you have to lose? You get to play some games for free, check out what your friends are playing, and honestly get some good ole wholesome gaming goodness at its best. If you decide not to download any games, then thatís your choice and I wonít fault anyone for feeling this could be a money maker. But honestly, I think Game Room and its game offerings are worth every penny. There are so many more things I could mention about game room or even comment, but Iíll leave those up to you to discover. Go download Game Room now and you will not be sorry you did in any way.