As of this moment a handful of XBLA titles are for sale. One game in particular is Geometry Wars 2 and it can be had for only 400 points. I picked this game up and while I might have saved $5 the one thing that runs through my mind while playing it is "Damn...I've been missing out."
The premise is simple. You take control of a ship that is capable of shooting and moving in any direction. There are other shapes that come in many colors and they take on varying patterns. Some chase you down, some float idly, and they all kill upon collision. The goal is to score and survive.
The scoring part is easy. Everything you destroy drops geoms. This adds to a multiplier and sky's the limit as long as you can stay alive. All of the challenge is in this part of the game as that overwhelming sensation is sudden and most games will last a few minutes.
You start off in a mode with a 3 minute time limit. Consider this a tutorial as enemies will spawn in and you will take out as much as possible. Lives are infinite but death costs you time and everything on-screen disappears(including uncollected geoms). After playing this a few times you'll move on to...
...King. Here things are changed up quite a bit as you can only fire when inside of circular zones. Enemies can't touch you while in the zone but to keep you moving zones disappear and reappear. You'll find that in this mode enemies love to crowd around whatever zone you're occupying so often-times the only way to survive is to create a hole just large enough for a tiny ship to slip past. It's here your ability in this game starts to take shape as you learn path-finding and focus. Simply firing away at any moving object will lead to your swift death. As opposed to the last mode this one sticks you with one life. Be sure to make the most of it. After some time passes you're free to take on...
...Evolved. This is essentially the original mode from the first Geometry Wars. Lives are limited but at least you get a few to start out with as well as extras whenever you achieve a certain amount of points. It's here you start to develop a better understanding of the basics of the game as well as tactics that'll help you last longer as well as score more points in a shorter amount of time. The ranking system in this game uses a variety of factors to determine the numbers and aggressiveness of the enemies. This is important to note because the game does an admiral job of keeping up with your skill level even when you start a new game. After a little while you'll unlock Pacifism though you might not want to try it yet. All the same everytime you die and get kicked back to mode select you'll find the latest mode you unlocked selected so might as well give it a go.
Pacifism is all about using gates. You might have used these to reflect shots in other modes but here they're used solely for passing through. Every time you pass through a gate you cause a small explosion that destroys nearby enemies. Since you can't fire your weapon your only hope is to keep passing through gates while avoiding the swarm of homing shapes. Aside from learning how the gates work you develop your maneuverability, since even with a weapon available steering your craft past what you're not destroying is an essential tactic.
Waves is all about these particular orange enemy shapes. Their only pattern is that they move back and forth from wherever they spawn to whichever direction they're facing. In this case they can come from any side of the play-field. This mode is called waves because these shapes act in formation as they spawn in long lines. While the play-field in this game never changes shape or takes on new properties it is still a fundamental part and learning it is imperative. It's here you'll appreciate the sound effects that tell when enemies are spawning as well as what kind they are. Accuracy is also beneficial since oft-times the only thing keeping you alive is your ability to cause breaks in the waves, which is taking out one or two enemies so you have enough room to slip past.
Finally there is Sequence. This is the review portion of the game where everything you've learned is put to the test over the course of twenty stages. This means that every enemy and every situation they're capable of creating is thrown at you. If you can see this one through to the end...well...that doesn't really mean anything. You can go back to any of the other five modes and work for a higher score and believe me you'll do it whether you care for that sort of thing or not.
One of the great ideas of this game is how it handles your Xboxlive friends list. For every mode there's a leaderboard and whenever you start a game you'll see the highscore of the person one place ahead of you. Beat that score and the board moves to the next one, and so on and so forth. It doesn't sound like much but when you're short a few hundred thousand even if it's a guy you haven't seen for years you'll want to take down his score because until you beat it it'll be there seemingly taunting you. You're used to hearing about people better than you but in this game all of it is staring you right in the face.
But don't worry this isn't the kind of game where you have to sit around for days and nights of constant playing just to get anywhere. You'll probably do it anyway because the game is just that good but seriously I'd say you'd do quite alright with 30 minutes a day. Most of these modes can be played for as long as you can stay alive but even then that's a few minutes on average. For thirty minutes you can play any combination of modes multiple times. As long as you beat one friend's score in any of the modes you're making a bit of progress.
With these 30 minute sessions you can prepare accordingly with the perfect drink, a comfortable chair, and the right temperature in the house. None of that will really matter though because you won't find the time to touch that drink, you'll use maybe a portion of that actual chair, and regardless of the temperature you'll be sweating profusely after awhile. No matter what just call it a day when those thirty minutes are up. You won't be beating any scores in the state you're in anyway.
This is the kind of game you hold on to so your thousands of MMORPG hours won't render your thumbs into useless stumps and it'll resuscitate your brain after its all but melted after the most horrid of video-game storylines. With just a little bit of time you can get the kind of fix that you need that hundreds of older arcade games couldn't give you. Bizarre Creations nails everything that's great about the twin-stick shooter genre and its perfectly designed for even the most casual of gamers. To think it took me this long to realize the brilliance of this game. I'm really ashamed of myself.