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PopCap promises "coolest collaboration ever"

PopCap are well known for their catalog of casual games, having released a bunch of them on the Live Arcade, and even more via other release channels. So it was no surprise when in an interview with Gamasutra, both the co-founder and CEO reasserted their commitment to continuing to make games that appeal to the widest possible audience.

A surprise did come toward the end of the interview though, when it was announced that PopCap is collaborating with a company that has extensive console experience but also highly values casual games. In a fleeting moment of hyperbole, the project was described as "the coolest collaboration ever, I promise," then pulled back to the more reasonable "I'll maintain that it will be one of the top ten collaborations (in gaming)."

Whatever it turns out to be, if the co-fonder of the company thinks this highly of any specific project out of all the ones that PopCap oversees, it's quite likely to be good. Or maybe this is all just marketing designed to get us to think that ...

XBLA Peggle will support downloadable content

PopCap Games' almost, nearly, okay it's just like crack Peggle is headed to the XBLA sometime in the near future and with the addition of some form of multiplayer, we're happy campers. And thanks to 1UP, we have yet another reason to be excited for the XBLA version of Peggle ... downloadable content! That's right, our future Peggle addiction will technically be limitless with confirmation from PopCap that the game will definitely support downloadable levels off the XBLM. No word on pricing details or how much DLC is planned (the game hasn't released yet, be patient), but we're not in the game of specifics when dealing with Peggle. We'll pay anything for more crack Peggle fun. Give us our crack Peggle now!

PopCap Games' games are headed to retail

Today, PopCap Games announced that they'll be bringing some of their Xbox Live Arcade hits to retail stores November 15th with the release of PopCap Arcade Volume 1. This first Arcade volume will include XBLA games Bejeweled 2, AstroPop, Feeding Frenzy and Zuma and retail for $29.95 on the 360, a savings of $10 if purchased separately via the XBLA.

The move by PopCap to bring their XBLA games to retail is smart and almost a no-brainer especially for those who want to get a taste of the Arcade at a discounted price or for those who aren't connected to Live and want their Arcade fix. To be honest, we aren't sure why Microsoft has given up on their Unplugged series and maybe, just maybe, if PopCap makes a habit of releasing their Arcade games to retail it'll spur Microsoft into action. Good move PopCap, good move.

PopCap talks casual game design, XBLA

A few years ago, if someone used the phrase "casual games," you probably would have imagined someone playing darts or shuffleboard in a newly smoke-free bar somewhere. Only recently, aided by Nintendo's DS and Wii juggernauts and download services like Xbox Live Arcade, have casual games become serious business. Everyone and their dog is stumbling over themselves to create casual games. EA, Eidos, Ubisoft: everyone is doing it. Of course, PopCap has been doing it for a while now. recently sat down to talk with Jason Kapalka, chief creative officer for PopCap games.

Speaking to the success of casual games, Kapalka notes that PopCap enjoys nearly a 20% conversion rate on Xbox Live Arcade titles. That's 1 in 5 people who decide to buy a PopCap game -- Heavy Weapon, for example -- after playing the trial version. This is compared to less than 10% rates for the PC and mobile markets. So, yes, casual games can certainly mean big bucks for a smart company.

Continue reading PopCap talks casual game design, XBLA

Heavy Weapon co-op is a blast

Okay, we just finished a Live co-op survival session on Heavy Weapon. In short, Heavy Weapon co-op is fluid, fast, and a hell of a lot of fun. This is great news considering the recent co-op woes of Assault Heroes. Like any survival game, it starts off slow enough, but soon it escalates to the point of sheer insanity. There are so many things happening on screen that it's impossible to keep track of them all. The air is filled with a solid cloud of bullets, missiles, lasers, aircraft, and general mayhem. And it's 'effing awesome. Some will no doubt deride Heavy Weapon for its simplicity, but we praise it for the same reason (and we dig its retro sensibilities). Oh, and if you like earning achievements, survival co-op offers plenty of them. You could easily earn six in one session. Surviving for twelve minutes is tough, but it's made much easier with three buddies (though to be fair we only made it just past thirteen on our first try). For those of you who have Heavy Weapon, give online co-op a try. It's sure to bring back plenty of arcade memories (hopefully memories without the creepy guy who played way too much Galaga).

[Thanks to DaKing240 for the invite]

Heavy Weapon impressions: really explodey

We played through the trial version of Heavy Weapon and so far, we're liking what we see. The trial version gives you access to a handful of levels and three of the game's six upgradeable weapons. The game is straight up action, beginning with the hair metal "Atomic Tank" theme song at the title screen. Live Arcade vets will be in comfortable territory: the left stick moves, the right stick shoots, and the right trigger sets off the all powerful nuke. Your tank rolls on the ground and basically shoots anything that moves, including both air and ground targets. Enemies have a range of different weapons which all require different tactics to destroy or evade. People familiar with Metal Slug should feel right at home.

Continue reading Heavy Weapon impressions: really explodey

Heavy Weapon drops a bomb on XBLA

Heavy Weapon, the side scrolling, blast-tastic shooter, is now available for download on Xbox Live Arcade. Another throwback arcade shooter, Heavy Weapon places a, ahem, heavy emphasis on shooting everything that moves. The XBLA version is enhanced over its PC counterpart (which you can try here) in that it allows for up to four players to play simultaneously and includes a new co-op mode. Everyone likes co-op. If you're stuck at work or otherwise indisposed, we've downloaded the game and will post our impressions later today. In the meantime, you can try out the stripped down web version for free.

If you can, try out the XBLA version and tell us what you think.

Confirmed: Heavy Weapon nukes XBLA next week [update 1]

Update: Our buddy, Mike, from the Xbox Domain has confirmed this rumor. Heavy Weapon is scheduled to hit XBLA on January 17. Thanks, Tom, for sending this in.

Coming from Xbox 360 Fanboy reader, DaKing240, is the rumor that Heavy Weapon will be hitting Xbox Live Arcade next week. Of course, our first thought is that Heavy Weapon is not, with very few exceptions, Worms. Still, Heavy Weapon is a great game, and we're sure it will only be made better by the inclusion of Live co-op. DaKing240 claims to have official confirmation of the title from the developer itself, so it seems like a safe bet. Not only that, but Heavy Weapon was supposed to come out during the holidays last year, so it makes sense that it would be ready to go now. If you haven't tried Heavy Weapon, we'd highly recommend you play the web version or grab the trial demo. And remember, before you complain about a high price tag on the XBLA version (we expect 800 points at least), rejoice in the fact that you won't have to pay the PC price: $19.95.

4 new XBLA games coming soon?

During his CES speech, Peter Moore announced there were more games coming to the XBLA by March, dropping a couple names like Street Fighter II, Texas Hold 'Em, and Marble Blast Ultra. Well, don't look now, but the official Xbox Live Arcade website has now added 4 new titles, including the aforementioned marbley one. Newcomers include:
  •  Crystal Quest: The 1987 classic is back. This updated and enhanced version allows you to pilot your ship through 60 waves, collect crystals, and evade baddies.
  • Marble Blast Ultra: ...navigate your marbles through moving platforms and dangerous hazards, or go head-to-head in ultra blast multiplayer mode, racing to collect gems to see who ultimately wins all the marbles.
  • Feeding Frenzy: Eat anything that's smaller than you and swim clear of everything else. The more you eat, the bigger you get, and the bigger you get, the closer you come to taking on the fearsome Shark King.
  • Astropop: Match four bricks, use combos and powerups to score big points! Two different gameplay modes, coupled with 33 challenging bonus rounds, offers hours of extraordinary replay value for players of all ages.
I don't see any of them showing up in the Marketplace yet, but how far off could they be if the websites are up already?

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