Every Extend Helps

Xbox Live Arcade is getting mighty enjoyable these days. Last week saw the release of the masochistic, carpal-tunnel inducing, however enjoyable Alien Hominid HD (what other game gives you an Achievement for eating 50 Russian KGB while riding an enormous Yeti?) and tomorrow will bring the arrival of Worms, a classic game of strategy and tongue-in-cheek humor that is absolutely perfect for Xbox Live Arcade. And aside from the game I'm constantly clammoring for -- Catan Live -- there's news out of the Game Developers Conference today that Every Extend Extra will also be headed to Live Arcade.

Every Extend Extra, from the makers of Rez and Lumines has taken up permanent residence in my PSP since December and I cannot wait to buy a downloadable version of it for Live Arcade. It's a phenomenal game that, on the surface, appears to be a clone of Geometry Wars, but in reality it's nothing like it. While you do control a ship of sorts and there are all sorts of alien bugs and cubes flying out you, you don't shoot them. Instead, you self-detonate your own craft in hopes of setting off a lengthy chain-reaction to earn an "extra extend". It's highly strategic and the game almost plays more like a puzzle than a 2D shooter.

In other news, Xbox Live is set to get the old-school Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles game, as well as the new Boom Boom Rocket which looks like a cross between Fantavision and Dance Dance Revolution. Go figure.

Lastly, Microsoft announced that Xbox Live has 6 million active members (subscribers?) and has sold $62.5 million dollars worth of Microsoft Points, which is the currency of Xbox Live Marketplace. That's a lot of dough!

Perhaps the neatest bullet-point item in the MS press release was that each day, gamers use Xbox Live to send over two million text and voice messages to one another. This goes right to the root of why I have been supporting Xbox Live since day one several years ago -- it fosters a community. And I really mean to use that word specifically. It's a centralized hub with a system that allows gamers to keep in touch no matter what game they are playing. And now that we have it and use it, there's no going back. Deciding not to implement a system like this was a fatal error on Sony's part. The games are all the same when you get right down to it, but the ability to nurture and maintain a social network is a driving force for so many gamers who made the switch to Xbox. Just in my own circle of friends, each and every one of them, including me, was a Playstation guy. And then little by little they saw what was possible with Live Arcade and they made the switch. It wasn't the games or the hardware specs that got them to switch, but the social aspects and ease of use. People complain about Xbox Live costing $50 a year all the time. In my opinion that $50 spent on Xbox Live is a better value than any game I might buy to play instead.

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