Xbox LIVE Wrap-Up for January 21st, 2010

After an explosive week last week, it looks like Microsoft is just warming up with Xbox LIVE additions and that’s certainly good news for everyone – especially for me as I wouldn’t have this dedicated space to ramble on with every week if it weren’t for these additions. We appreciate the reception we’ve received with our new weekly columns, so it’s good to see you checking us out to see what is worthy of your Microsoft Points. I’m not so sure how one tops something like Muscle March, but we’ll sure as heck give it a shot … This week sees the return of the double Xbox LIVE Arcade game addition, more Games on Demand, a game add-on deal and more.

Xbox LIVE Arcade – Death by Cube, Vandal Hearts: Flames of Judgment
Square-Enix is publishing Premium Agency’s Death by Cube, which sees Leo the robot awakening in a world overrun by evil robots covered in a mysterious red oil. This twin-stick shooter provides a strategic element in which players will have to dash to confuse enemies and use shields to deflect enemy fire. Death by Cube offers 10 playable characters after everything in the game is unlocked, each with different upgrades. Not only can players tackle a single-player story, but the title will also feature online versus and co-op modes for up to eight players.

Death by Cube is releasing at the price of 800 Microsoft Points so if you are looking for another arena shooter to put your hands on, you might want to give the demo a spin.

Billed as a prequel to Konami’s known RPG series Vandal Hearts, Flames of Judgment brings some much-needed RPG love to the Xbox LIVE Arcade service. This tactical role-playing game features new mechanics and is the first in the series to touch down on current-generation systems. Flames of Judgment was crafted to be a faster-paced RPG and sees Tobias Martin attempting to find peace among two rival kingdoms.

This adventure will ask you to part with 1200 Microsoft Points, but if you’re itching for a new RPG experience via Xbox LIVE, this one just might be worth your attention.

Lastly, under the subject of Xbox LIVE Arcade titles, we will have a review of Matt Hazard: Blood Bath & Beyond published Friday, so if you’re waiting on an opinion before you purchase the title, be sure to check back with us tomorrow.

Xbox LIVE Deal of the Week: Mass Effect Expansions are now 240 Microsoft Points
Sneaking in just before the entire world moves on to Mass Effect 2, players can get the Bring Down the Sky and Pinnacle Station expansions on the cheap for just 240 Microsoft Points apiece. If you’re late to the party and need a little guidance on Mass Effect, check out Matt Yeager’s opinion on the Bring Down the Sky expansion. Unfortunately, we do not have a review of Mass Effect itself on the site as it pertains to the Xbox 360, but I would assume it’s safe to accept Ashe Collins’ stance on the game with the Diehard GameFAN review of Mass Effect for PC. If you consider the original entry an ancient relic and just want to know more about Mass Effect 2, though, there is always the Diehard GameFAN Mass Effect 2 screenshot gallery to consult with.

Finally, if you live in Japan, though, your territory has a different deal of the week to look forward to. Japan’s LIVE service now has Hasbro Game Night’s Battleship at 400 Microsoft Points.

Games on Demand: Brave: A Warrior’s Tale, Skate
In order to put a taste of gaming suitable for families on the service, Southpeak’s Brave: A Warrior’s Tale has been placed on the Demand service for the price of 2400 Microsoft Points ($30). Ashe Collins was able to check out the Nintendo Wii version of Brave, so if you would like a little supplement material to find out more about the title, you can take a look at the Diehard GameFAN review of Brave: A Warrior’s Tale.

Also, along with Brave, is EA’s skateboarding simulator, Skate. The title is now downloadable at the cost of 1600 Microsoft Points ($20).

Xbox Avatars Marketplace – New Items for the Week
This week, 360 owners should see three new lines of avatar items placed into the Marketplace. International attire, MX vs. ATV and University style outfits will be made available starting today, which should greatly expand your wardrobe choices. As a small update to last week’s additions, unfortunately, the Burton line of items was delayed for the time being.

Music Game Marketplace
With many music game titles receiving expansion content on a weekly basis, it may start to become hard to follow, especially with these updates usually covering up the entire line of recent updates on the Xbox dashboard. This week we have the usual lineups for you, along with a few newsbits that could affect your music gaming purchases in the near future.

Rock Band
Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers – “A Woman in Love (Live)”
Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers – “Breakdown (Live)”
Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers – “Century City (Live)”
Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers – “Jammin’ Me (Live)”
Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers – “Nightwatchman (Live)”
Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers – “The Waiting (Live)”
Phoenix – “1901”
Phoenix – “Lisztomania”
Silvertide – “Blue Jeans”

In other Rock Band news, the Rock Band Network is now undergoing an open beta testing for those enrolled in the XNA Creators Club premium service. The Rock Band Network is an open platform that allows bands to submit their own songs, have them charted for Rock Band gameplay and released on a DLC service where the artist will earn 30 percent of each sale. The beta test allows those with XNA Creators Club access to partake in the play testing and peer reviewing of content loaded onto the service to check it for accuracy and terms of service violations. The Rock Band Network store will be made available to the full public in the near future and will allow players to extend their songlists even further with brand new songs released outside of the usual weekly updates. While select songs from the service will be placed in the Rock Band stores for the Playstation 3 and Nintendo Wii, the XNA format nets the Xbox 360 players a 30-day exclusivity for the songs released on the service.

Lips DLC
“Ring My Bell” – Anita Ward
“Mustang Sally” – Wilson Pickett
“Soul Meets Body” – Death Cab for cutie
The following are not available in US or Canada
“Schnappi, das kleine Krokodil” – Shnappi
“Baby, Du siehst gut aus!” – Bakkushan

Microsoft is rolling out more DLC in anticipation of a new on-disc release in early March entitled Lips Party Classics. The disc will feature 40 more tracks to add to your Lips collection, including “Word Up,” “Tubthumping,” “American Pie,” “I’m Too Sexy” and more.

Guitar Hero – Jan. 21
“Still I Rise” – Shadows Fall
“Twilight of the Thunder God” – Amon Amarths
“Laser Canon Deth Sentence” – Dethklok

After this week, it looks like music game fans have a few extra goods to look forward to and the Xbox LIVE Arcade additions should generate a bit of interest. Just don’t get too lost in Xbox LIVE to forget to come back next week where, of course, we will yet again have the newest goods and information available for the service.

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