It’s officially summer! Which means you’ll still be staying in and gaming, although maybe not as much as you would during the less clement months? Regardless of your gaming frequency, Uncle Phil Spencer has a plethora (does 4 qualify as a plethora?) of gaming gems to keep you occupied through the long daylight hours.
As with most free items, Games with Gold are only free if you have an Xbox Live Gold subscription, but, let’s face it, most Xbox owners do anyway. If, however, you’re new to the ecosystem or swithering over subscription renewal, I would highly recommend checking out Game Pass Ultimate as that includes Gold, along with a treasure trove of games new and old that are updated every month.
It’s also worth mentioning that Shadows: Awakening from June’s Games with Gold is still available for download up until July 15. Grab it while you can!
As is customary, our first title for July is available all month long. Planet Alpha, apart from sounding like an album title, is a side-scrolling fast-platforming adventure with a dash of exploration and puzzle-solving, all wrapped up a colourful 50’s sci-fi look from developer royalty Team 17.
Marooned on a gorgeous mysterious alien world with no memory of how you arrived there, you must journey through a variety of spectacular biomes that are all affected in a variety of ways by the day/night cycle – a mechanic that amazingly you can control. Test your platforming skills, use stealth to evade the bloodthirsty adversaries who are hunting you and solve puzzles to progress in your journey and solve the mystery of how you got to this beautiful but deadly world.
Available from July 1 to 31.
CONKER: LIVE & RELOADED
Made possible solely through the witchcraft of the wizards at Microsoft, the wonderous Xbox backwards compatibility engine affords Gold subscribers a glimpse of the gaming past with Conker: Live & Loaded. Falling far, far short of the cuddly antic standards of his anthropomorphised animal character peers like Sonic and Yoshi, Conker is a squirrel loosely modelled on a fallen-from-grace WWII army sergeant. Nursing a bad hangover and worse attitude, Conker was a franchise-hopeful that appeared exclusively on Nintendo 64 before being given a face-lift on OG Xbox by (other) developer royalty Rare Software back in 2005.
Essentially a remaster of ‘Bad Fur Day‘ (the N64 title), Live & Loaded has a third -person shooter campaign filled with the signature innuendo, lewd remarks and genuinely impressive film parodies that fans enjoyed in the original release. As part of the remaster, Rare completely retooled the multiplayer to include additional player characters, vehicles and an upgradable class system that afforded players unique weapons and abilities.
Available from July 1 to 15.
ROCK OF AGES III: MAKE & BREAK
Have you ever found yourself wishing for an absurd escapist tower defence game filled with tongue-in-cheek humour and a liberal sprinkling of chaos? Well now you don’t have to because you can download Rock of Ages III: Make & Break.
Rock of Ages III is a must-have party game filled with bizarre irreverent humour that owes more than a nod to classic Monty Python’s animated sketches. Loosely based around destroying scenery and obstacles to reach a set goal using humourous objects as avatars, the game features competitive tower defence with up to four players, a single-player boulder smashing (quite literally) campaign playable with 20 different boulders (like a gigantic Swiss cheese or the Man in the Moon, to name but a few), a challenge mode that involves rolling a delicate Humpty Dumpty through an obstacle-strewn landscape, time trials and an easy-to-use editor mode that allows players to create their own maps and unique gameplay.
Available from July 16 to August 15.
MIDWAY ARCADE ORIGINS
Modern-day gamers are very accustomed to high fidelity graphics and high-powered performance in the comfort of their homes but there was a time, not too long ago, when the only place to play the newest and most advanced video games was in the arcades and you had to pay per play!
While not a patch on the performance and visuals of today’s titles, the old-school classics in Midway’s curated arcade bundle are the foundation for the Fortnites, GTAs and CoDs that dominate our gaming time nowadays. The Origins bundle contains 31 games of all shapes and sizes, from shooting to puzzling to driving, including ground-breaking classics like Defender, Gauntlet, Rampage, Smash TV, Spy Hunter and many more. While not much to look at now, it’s definitely worth trying out some of the simple but satisfying game loops that would help define gaming for decades to come.
Available from July 16 to 31.