Week in Arcade: Crimson Alliance, Bloodrayne, SkyDrift, Leedmees

A second week of quadruple Live Arcade releases, making an absurdly crowded game week even worse.

Crimson Alliance

A sparkling clean little dungeon crawler where levels are separated, not combined. Veteran crawlers who enjoy something like Torchlight may be taken aback that they’re not just traveling, but entering fresh stages. In that sense, it has more to do with Gauntlet than current genre norms, but that doesn’t make it any worse for wear. Combat is precise and pleasing, colors are saturated brilliantly, and designs offer plenty of hidden areas. Some frame rate hiccups and a rather odd business model where how many classes are offered depends on how you pay are the only complaints.

Bloodrayne: Betrayal

A 2D effort from WayForward should be cause for celebration, but this updated spin on the Bloodrayne saga falls flat. Needless complex mechanics like a backflip requiring a change in direction are off-putting, mostly because they only add style, not mobility. Difficulty is needlessly high, nimble ‘Rayne too fleet-footed for her own good. The game feels slippery, and the combat mechanics are not as tight as they probably should be. Visual style is exquisite and the music is right up there with some of Castlevania’s best. It’s a shame the gameplay doesn’t follow suit.

SkyDrift

Plane racing action that fits so perfectly on XBLA it’s ridiculous. Not the first of its kind (Sky Odyssey on PS2 comes to mind), but better suited to this platform. Kart racing mechanics liven things up, pushing this colorful, oddly Dreamcast-like racer to the front of the pack. Enjoyably easy to use mechanics add life to this free-form racer, and weapons are a joy to use. Tracks offer risk/reward scenarios, the perfect catalyst for multiplayer.

 Leedmees

Really a, “Why didn’t I think of that?” Kinect puzzler. Players stand and use their legs and arms to maneuver little people to a goal. Think Lemmings, only these little people are not as much fun to send to the slaughter. You can toss them to the goal if need be, a small form of torture, or let them crawl all over you. Two-players work in tandem to reach the goal, certainly making things a little more complex. Not quite as frantic as say Fruit Ninja, but it definitely has its place as something a little more involved.