Game Room…for the Xbox 360. It’s trying to be old-school and “classic,” trying to evoke feelings of nostalgia and quarter-hunting, but alas it does neither. Instead, kind of how the Star Wars prequels were too clean and pretty to be considered “old,” the Game Room is the, more or less, equivalent of Playstation 3’s Home, but with truly silly decorations and a whole lot less to do.
Upon downloading it, you are given 20 free tokens out of the kindness of the developers’ hearts. These can be used to play arcade machines after you’ve used up your “place once for totally free” card. I played some Centipede and Millipede, always a favorite, before growing bored. The games that come in the free download packs for Game Room are, alas, just not very interesting. In fact, I’d say about 75% of them were brand new to me in terms of familiarity.
What’s kind of odder, however, is the fact that Game Room comes with Achievements. Some of them don’t even deserve the honor of being thought as “things one achieves.” Take for instance the very first one I unlocked:
Show Me! (5G): Visited the Showcase Arcade
Yup. Just loading up Game Room is worthy of Gamerscore. Hmm. There’s even a few more for adding themes and decorations to your personal arcade, all of which is provided for free to you with the download packs. All in all, without purchasing anything, I was able to pop 7 of 56 Achievements. I bet there’s a couple more I could get, too, but no single classic game is calling out to me and my Microsoft bucks just yet. We’ll have to wait and see.
But wait, what was that bit before about the Star Wars prequels? Well, Game Room has a lot of shine to it. Just like The Phantom Menace. Everything is polished and reflective, the themes are elegant and elaborate, and your oddly-shaped Avatars all look like they are having a blast, running back and forth from machines. That’s not how I remember Star Wars IV through VI or arcades. They were dirty and darker, full of grit and noise, crap on the carpet. Special effects and hi-tech gadgetry were as best as they could be, which by today’s standards were nothing James Cameron would even blink at. And where’s the jerks that always lined up their quarters on the machine to let everyone know they were next?
Anyways, it was mildly fun to fool around with for twenty minutes or so, considering the gameplay of the glory day games remains absolutely the same, but ultimately Game Room is just a weird mix of old and new.