Insert Coin

Originally Published: 11 March 2008

I love the Xbox Live Arcade. My hard-drive is filled with the Arcade downloads. Even the crap ones. Every Arcade game has been download, played, and neglected for a while.
And that’s what I like.

I haven’t played Oblivion in ages. If I was to put the disc in, right this minute, and fire it up two things would happen:-

1) I would have to spend a wee while trying to remember what I was last doing. I know it won’t be anything to do with the main quest (as I’ve hardly touched it at all) but other than that, it would take me a while to get my bearings, and
2) This blog would never be finished because I’d “just have five more minutes, I promise.”

I had yesterday off work, and (in and amongst knocking off episodes of Alias) I spent most of the afternoon on the Arcade games. I didn’t mean to. I was literally going down the games list thinking “ooo, haven’t played that for a while” and having a quick bash at each game. A quick bash. Nothing else.

Somehow, Xevious ate nearly 2 hours of my afternoon.

And I still suck at it.

Fair enough, I grabbed a few achievements along the way, but the thing that kept me going was the fact that I just couldn’t crack the 40,000 points barrier which (along with an achievement) gets me to number one on the in-game leaderboard (as opposed to the Xbox Live one). It was so frustrating. I finished most games 3000 points short of the number one position. And I loved every minute of it.

It’s the same with my girlfriend. Not that I have lost two hours of the afternoon to her, but that she’s lost several hours to the Arcade. She once saw me playing, and failing, at a level of Jewel Quest. As a rule, she’s not a big fan of gaming, but with a simple “you’re rubbish, I could do that, let me have a go,” hours of her day were taken from her, never to be replaced.

The Wii has done a lot to make gaming accessible to the masses. I think that the right games on the Live Arcade have the power to do the same. Show a gaming Muggle something that looks simple, but will suck them in, and you can create the kind of family fun atmosphere that the Wii gives, but without the arm-waving and pulled muscles. The leaderboards suddenly become hyper-competitive as you try to out-do each other with something as simple as matching a few dancing rabbits…

What Simes said in “Press Start” is right, sometimes it’s nice to go back to the old school way of doing things.