Marketplace Delights

Fortnightly, the Hawk gives you the good, the bad and the ugly of the whole Xbox Live Marketplace content. This week, we delve into the XBL Game Room.

As a whole we are fans of some really good classics. One of the movies every person must watch is Star Wars: A New Hope (and yeah, Han shoots first). One of the best console RPGs of all time is Final Fantasy VII (which still boasts the best of all villains, Sephiroth). I say all this so people accept the fact that it’s not that I’m not just an old guy just boasting the old days were better than these days.

When Xbox Live was launched, one of the main benefits was to have the classic arcade games ready to play on our consoles. Because of this decision, we got wonders like Pac-Man and Centipede, but we also got crap like Frogger 2 and Tempest.

One of the reasons for these and other failures was that games translated from the Arcade arena were so bad. The companies completely forgot that most of the time you only need to reproduce the graphics and sounds the game had when it was originally released to please the audience. This is why we run emulators: we want to play with those games as we remembered (I am willing to bet that the original emulated version of TMNT: Turtles in Time has the effect where you throw the foot soldiers up your face!) (He’s right. It does. Don’t ask me how I know. I don’t snitch. ED)

Last year Microsoft announced what we thought was not possible: an official emulator for running classic games in our 360. Atari VCS, Mattel Intellivision and old arcade games were shown in the CES 2010 presentation. Not only we would have the games, but Microsoft added the possibility to create your own arcade building to show off the games on an Avatar-supported environment. The arcade games look great, because they look exactly as they appear on their original cabinets.

Now this is important: when I say it was not possible it’s because there’s no such thing as an official emulator. To find all the games you want, you will have to bypass licensing issues and play them as “pirated” copies. Microsoft made some deals with some of the best companies of the end of the 70’s era and the beginning of the 80’s.

But it was not enough. Coleco, Magnavox, Commodore and Smith Engineering (creators of the Vectrex console) to name a few, were out of the loop. Of course, most of the time it’s not the console itself, but the owner of the games’ license it ran at the time. In the end, all this meant that we would get a much limited offer of the classic games.

Only 13 game packs were released. The last one even included its own version of a killing joke: an Atari VCS game which is not a game, just a demo of a technology which Atari said at the time it was stolen from them.

It has been a long time since the release of the Game Room. How can Microsoft save face in this whole scenario? Here are a few ideas:

• Push on the Atari license: bring us the games that they released for the Atari 8-bit computers (the original Star Raiders, Mule, Archon), the 5200 and the 7800 consoles (maybe even the Jaguar?) (Dear God, no. ED)
• Convert the Game Room into the Arcade Room! Expand the titles that are able to be included in the Showcase Arcade, so we can present our Xbox Live Arcade library. Some XBLA titles include challenges, but for those that don’t, this would become a great venue. Let us even design the cabinets for those titles that are exclusive only for the 360.
• More arcade originals, please! Microsoft does have agreements with some of those original companies from the 80’s era, so maybe Sega would bring us Zaxxon!
• Let us buy the complete packs if we want to, with a better price than buying only the games and mascots that we like.

Share your ideas with us. Maybe it’s not too late to save this great idea.

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