Pre-TGS '07: Xbox Live Arcade gets hardcore

Ikaruga, Rez, Exit, and more making their way to Microsoft's online arcade service.

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TOKYO--The Xbox 360 has a reputation within Japan as a console generally favored only by hardcore gamers. Microsoft is apparently embracing this characterization, and is bringing a lineup of new downloadable titles that caters to hardcore tastes.

All the trippy fun of Rez, now in HD.
All the trippy fun of Rez, now in HD.

At the Xbox 360 Briefing 2007 held today in Tokyo, Takashi Sensui, general manager of Microsoft's Japanese Xbox operation, unveiled six new titles that will be released for Xbox Live Arcade:

Rez HD (Q Entertainment, Winter)
Every Extend Extra Extreme (Q Entertainment, release TBA)
Ikaruga (Treasure, release TBA)
Trigger Heart Exelica (Warashi, release TBA)
Exit (Taito, release TBA)
Omega Five (Hudson, November)

Rez HD is a revamped version of the cult hit shooting game with musical elements that debuted on the Sega Dreamcast in 2001. Aside from graphical enhancements to high-definition, Rez HD also features 5.1 channel surround sound.

Rez makes more sense when you're actually playing it.
Rez makes more sense when you're actually playing it.

Although Every Extend Extra Extreme is typically classified as a shooter, the player doesn't actually shoot anything. Based on the 2004 Japanese homebrew game Every Extend, the game has players maneuvering a ship around a playfield swarming with enemies before blowing it up in an attempt to trigger the most spectacular chain reactions possible. This is the second time that Q Entertainment has adapted the original PC game; the company also released Every Extend Extra for the PlayStation Portable in 2006.

Treasure's notoriously difficult shoot-'em-up Ikaruga debuted in Japanese arcades in 2001 before appearing on the Dreamcast in that country and finally making it overseas with a GameCube version. Continuing Treasure's experiments with color-based gameplay (see Silhouette Mirage), the player's ship could flip like an Othello piece and change its color to black or white, allowing it to absorb enemy beams of the same color.

Taito's 2005 PlayStation Portable puzzle action game Exit is also headed to Xbox Live Arcade. In the game, the player takes the role of Mr. ESC, whose objective is to help out trapped people and escape from burning buildings within the given time limit.

Not all of the games announced will be familiar to Western audiences. Trigger Heart Exelica is an arcade shooter originally released in 2006 and then ported to the Japanese Dreamcast earlier this year by Warashi. The game features a system where the player can shoot an anchor at enemies, capturing them and using them as a weapon. Finally, Omega Five is a 3D side-scrolling shooter game, and a collaborative project between Hudson Soft and Natsume for release on the Xbox Live Arcade.

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