Game Room seems almost like Microsoft's Xbox-centric answer to Sony's PlayStation Home, but without the meaningless trundling between urban pylons, water fountains, and movie theater marquees. Just the games, no frills, in a space designed to look like the hangout you might have prowled as a kid popping quarters into decal-clad cabinets with glowing vector graphic screens framed by backlit bezels, buttons like scooped out silver dollars, and joysticks with knobs the size of golf balls (roller skates, cheese dogs, and Steve Perry belting "You should've been go-onnnne!" not included).
It's not just for Xbox, either. If you've installed Microsoft's Games For Windows client, you can pull it down, gratis, as well as several expansion packs that bolster your private arcade with extras from Intellivision, Atari, and more. The games themselves cost Microsoft Points: 40 for single play, or 50 cents (kind of pointless, and way overpriced), 240 to play unlimited on just one platform, or $3 (Xbox or Windows), and 400 to play on all platforms, or $5. If you'd rather just fool around noncommittally, you can play each game for up to 10 minutes, no charge.
Starting tomorrow, you can add Pitfall and Super Breakout to the Xbox's lineup, according to this Twitter dispatch from Microsoft's Larry 'Major Nelson' Hryb. Other games rumored to accompany those two include Basketball, Realsports Volleyball, Megamania, Night Stalker, and Rack 'Em Up.
I know, $3 per game (single-platform) for the privilege of screwing around with otherwise freely available arcade classics sounds like gouging. But then we are talking Microsoft here. You know, the company that charges $50 a year to play Xbox 360 games online, $100 for a USB WLAN adapter, and $130 for a 250GB hard drive.
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