Microsoft’s Game Room – For the retro freaks out there


While this isn’t new news or anything, I felt that it has been a bit under the radar.  In case you’re wondering what Game Room is, it’s going to be Microsoft’s own retro arcade playground which will be available on the 360 and Games for Windows.

The idea is similar to the Wii’s virtual console.  We all love our retro gaming and this is why the virtual console works.  However, Microsoft really seems to be taking it a step beyond what the virtual console does.  In a way, you can think of it as a mix between the virtual console and Playstation Home.  You will, to an extent, be able to interact with your retro environment and that’s pretty cool stuff.  But let’s make sure of something, you won’t be walking around this virtual environment with your avatar as you please.  Instead it will be more of a slide control.  You’ll move to a part of the arcade that you want (like a room) with your controller, and then push a button to enter it.

Game room will be what you make of it.  You will be able to customize your own glorious arcade!  Just what all of us wanted to do when we were young.  You will be able to design what the rooms look like in your arcade.  Want an 80’s style look?  Want to setup which arcade machines should be in the different rooms?  It’s your choice.  There will even be video game mascot avatars walking around.  It’s all window dressing for sure, but it adds a nice element to the environment.  From changing the floors to the decorations on the wall, Microsoft wants you to feel like this is your little piece of retro heaven.

“There’s a generation of people who grew up with a set of games like Centipede that are favorites,” says Robbie Bach, president of Microsoft’s Entertainment & Devices Division. “They look almost like casual, fun games today, (but) at the time they were high-end, edgy games. Game Room is the idea of bringing that back to the market and bringing that to a very broad audience.”

Microsoft is planning to release 7 games per week at about $3 per game.  They have some big names on board with the likes of Atari, Konami, and Intellivision.  Thirty games are also planned for launch when it hits in spring such as Centipede, Asteroids, Tempest, Crystal Castles, Yars Revenge, and Combat!  All of these games will have an ESRB rating of E10+ or lower.  This allows Microsoft to be able to release new games quicker as each game will not have to go through the ESRB rating system.  Of course, if Microsoft decides to start releasing games higher than the E10+ rating, then they will have to resubmit their game room application.  It’s a very clean setup though.

Let’s not forget the multiplayer aspect.  You won’t be able to play head to head battles, but you will be able to invite friends over to your arcade to play.  We are talking about old school battles though.  The kind of battles that involve racking up points and saying “Beat that dude!”  You will even be able to setup challenges for your friends which should recreate that old school style of playing.

With a release due in spring and over 1,000 titles expected over the next 3 years.  How can you not love it?  If you are into the retro scene, be sure to take a look!

Joystiq.com has posted a Hands-On video of Game Room.  Check it out here.

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