Though the monthly free games for subscribers to Xbox Live Gold aren’t the kind of thing we’d normally shout about here at Retro Dodo Towers, two of the four games currently on offer are likely to be of significant interest to our readers.
Xbox Live Games with Gold: Radiant Silvergun
Treasure are well known and highly regarded when it comes to their gaming output, and vertically scrolling shoot ’em up Radiant Silvergun is one of their most fondly remembered titles. First releasing in arcades in 1998, before being swiftly ported to the Sega Saturn in the same year (and even makes it onto our Best Sega Saturn Games list!
Radiant Silvergun is known for reviving what had become a fairly stale genre at the time. Offering a wide variety of choice in terms of weapon loadouts – and even a sword to wipe out enemies who get too close – it’s a game that rewards experimentation before you settle on the offensive style that suits you best.
The beautiful pixel art, colourful pyrotechnics and clever, combo-based scoring system haven’t aged a day, which is more than can be said for the 3D games of the late 90s.
The Games with Gold release gives players the 2011 Xbox Live Arcade version for free, but be quick: it’s only available to download as part of the offer until the 15th of January – after that, you’ll need to pay the full price of $14.99. That’s still significantly cheaper than the original Saturn release will cost you though, with copies selling for well over £200 on ebay at the moment.
Xbox Live Games with Gold: Space Invaders: Infinity Gene
There was a time in the early 80s, before games became dominated by mascots such as Sonic and Mario (with the craze for character-based games truly kickstarted by the legendary Pac-Man), when Space Invaders was synonymous with video games. Even today, Space Invaders is regarded as one of the finest video games of all time (and of course, it features on our very own Best Arcade Games list!).
For good reason too; it’s has a straightforward, immediately understandable gameplay loop even for absolute novices, yet the structure and challenge offers appeal even for gamers who’ve been playing it for many years.
Additionally, the sound effects and stark, simple visuals are iconic and instantly recognisable – making it near irresistible to ignore if you ever happen to be lucky enough to find a Space Invaders machine in the wild.
Numerous sequels and reboots followed, many of which stuck close to the original formula while also updating the visuals and gameplay – but few have gone so far in shaking up the formula as Space Invaders: Infinity Gene, which first released on iOS devices in 2009 – before making its way to Xbox and PlayStation digital stores in 2010 (then Android a year later!).
What makes Space Invaders: Infinity Gene so special is its almost rhythm-based gameplay, with an incredible soundtrack and beautifully psychedelic, trippy visuals.
Colour-based and enemy-type combo bonuses add an interesting layer of strategy to the proceedings, with enormous enemies, frantic bonus rounds and huge power ups being added in to shake things up even further.
It’s a brilliant modernisation of the still-addictive single screen shoot ’em up formula and it’s well worth checking out even if you’re not familiar with the original game.
Available for free to Xbox Live Gold subscribers from the 16th to the 31st of January, if you’re not a subscriber or you miss out, Space Invaders: Infinity Gene can be purchased for $9.99.
Jason – who lives in the UK – has had a lifelong interest in video games, which all started when he discovered Space Invaders in the early 80s. The first game he ever completed was Wonder Boy in Monster Land on the Sega Master System – which remains one of his proudest gaming achievements. Jason is a passionate writer – and has been writing about gaming since the late 90s. He currently runs pop culture blog midlifegamergeek.com, which he updates on a daily basis (and has written more than 700 articles on the blog alone!).
Outside of video games, Jason is a keen tabletop gamer, film buff and comic book fan.