Sega had its fair share of great games on the show floor this year at PAX East, including the show-stopping Aliens: Colonial Marines. The house that Sonic built also has a huge emphasis on digital download titles, including a few classic favorites and some cool-looking new stuff.
Here we take a look at five downloadable games for Xbox Live and/or PlayStation Network that are sure to stand out when they’re released over the next few months.
House of the Dead 4 (PlayStation Network)
Based on the hit arcade game of the same name, the fourth chapter in the arcade shooting series follows a pair of survivors as they once again battle through a zombie horde. If that weren't enough, you'll also take on enormous bosses such as a nearly indestructible monstrosity, a chainsaw wielding maniac and a pair of large twin spiders that are sure to make your day miserable.
Using a machine gun and motion-sensitive controls that take advantage of the PlayStation Move, House of the Dead 4 is sure to be a hit amongst those who enjoyed the original arcade game. The game features leaderboard support so you can compare your best shooting scores with your friends.
From what we've seen, House of the Dead 4 has excellent graphics (they’re very close to the arcade version, save for some minor slowdown), and it'll definitely make you jump. This should be a big hit with fans when it arrives any day now on PSN.
Virtua Fighter 5: Final Showdown (Xbox Live, PlayStation Network)
When Virtua Fighter 5 originally came out for PlayStation 3 back in 2007 (followed by a release on Xbox 360), it stirred up the fighting community with its new characters, multiple modes and beautiful visuals. Little did we know that it would be the precursor for an even better follow-up – and in digital format, no less.
Virtua Fighter 5: Final Showdown, due for release this summer as an Xbox Live and PlayStation Network download, will introduce online play across both formats along with a huge roster of fighters including two newbies, like Taka-Arashi, a huge sumo wrestler from Virtua Fighter 3.
Many modes make their return here, including traditional Arcade and special Tournament battles where you can prove your mettle against the fighting community. The realistic fighting gameplay and gorgeous visuals remain intact, so grab your fighting stick and get ready to prove your worth. If you’re going up against the powerful Akira or the dangerous (yet sexy) Sarah Bryant, chances are you’re going to need it.
Hell Yeah! (Xbox Live, PlayStation Network)
An original title being worked on in collaboration with Arkedo (the developers behind such Xbox Live indie games as Pixel! and Jump!), Hell Yeah! gives the team the necessary room to expand on a bunch of demented ideas.
You control the ruler of Hell who, of course, is an insane rabbit. He vows to get revenge against an enemy who has wronged him in the worst kind of way -- by posting an online video featuring him doing despicable acts.
Hell Yeah! features some awesome traditional 2D gameplay and plenty of blood-spilling tactics between your roving chainsaw blade (which surrounds you) and, when the situation calls for it, heavy firepower. When faced against a peculiar enemy, you’ll also engage in a cute button-mashing mini-game, such as pushing a meter to a specific height or forcing a baddie to get squished like a zit.
These creative elements keep the gameplay feeling fresh and lively, and we are blown away with the hand-drawn visuals which really bring the world of Hell to colorful life.
Look for Hell Yeah! to perk up your summer months very soon.
Sonic the Hedgehog 4 Episode 2 (Xbox Live, PlayStation Network)
While a few folks enjoyed Episode 1 of Sonic’s fourth go-around when it came out a while ago, some found a few problems like the somewhat loose gameplay and tricky level design. Consider those situations a thing of the past, as Sega and the team at Dimps have really gone out with the follow-up, hitting Xbox Live and PlayStation Network next month.
Along with fully realized 3D-designed levels in a 2D world and concentrated gameplay that does away with the errors from the original game, Sonic the Hedgehog 4 Episode 2 also introduces a newfound factor to keep things interesting – Tails.
With Sonic’s long-time protégé by his side, he can perform new acts of derring-do to help him get through a stage, such as forming a huge snowball that can run through walls and reaching new areas with the help of Tails’ helicopter ability. That makes him less of an annoyance than he was in previous games and actually something of use!
We can’t wait to see how the rest of the game unfolds when it arrives in a few weeks. Stick around for more impressions!
Jet Set Radio HD (Xbox Live, PlayStation Network)
Finally, we come to the final digital title in Sega’s arsenal, but we clearly saved the best for last. Jet Set Radio HD is a revitalization of the Sega Dreamcast classic, where you control a team of youths as they travel through a futuristic Tokyo landscape, fighting rival gangs, avoiding cops and spray painting items with graffiti to express themselves.
The game features ever-changing elements in the gameplay, such as a trigger happy detective that needs to be contained, rival gang challenges and roving crew of policemen that could make your day very miserable.
Featuring a luscious cel-shaded art design that shines even brighter in high definition, Jet Set Radio HD also retains most of its original soundtrack, though a few key tracks are missing due to the closure of the record company that worked on the original.
Nevertheless, expect most of the game to sound the same. As for the gameplay, it’s still entertaining to link together tricks and perform spray painting techniques, while also creating your own graffiti to give the game a customized appearance. (Sadly, the sharing option is out this time around.)
The Dreamcast has been home to several great games, and we’re happy to see that Jet Set Radio, one of the best ever released for it, is getting a second chance to shine. Look for it this summer.