Puppets and Creepers have one thing in common; they are in the games I'm reviewing; Fable Heroes and Minecraft: Xbox 360 Edition. In one we play with puppets, the other we run from creepers. Let's get the rundown on these two.
Neither game has much in the way of a storyline, but neither was meant to have one either.
Minecraft: Xbox 360 Edition can have a story, but that comes from the player's imagination as they play and build.
Fable Heroes you play as puppet versions of characters from the Fable series in an elaborate board game.
Controls and Gameplay
Fable Heroes is side-scrolling brawler with touches of party games. The controls are simple with three types of attacks: normal, flourish, and special. As well as controls for dodge and interact. The normal and flourish attacks equate to a light and heavy attack in the brawler genre. Movement is fine for most of the game. Certain characters that float instead of walk feel slow as they move, but only a little. There is a power-up in the game that will giant-size a character. This power-up makes them feel like they are moving slower.
Each level in Fable Heroes plays out the same. Battle your way through enemies collecting coins along the way. At the end of the level you have choice of one of two finales. Either you face a boss character or play through a mini-game. The winner of each level is the player with the most gold at the end. Depending on how much gold each character has gathered, they will be rewarded with a dice roll on the abilities upgrade board. The upgrade board will let you improve your character or unlock other characters depending on what space you land on and if you have enough gold to buy it.
Minecraft: Xbox 360 Edition brings the hit PC game to a console system. Just like its PC sibling it is an open world sandbox game that lets the player do what they want, when they want, and how they want. You mine, you craft, and you build. Your only limits are your imagination and the occasional monster that wants to kill you.
The translation of mouse and keyboard controls to a console gamepad is smoothly done. The only place I felt any problem was when navigating inventory and that, for me, was just a minor annoyance.
The crafting system was completely overhauled, but in a good way. Unlike the PC version, Minecraft: Xbox 360 Edition crafting has been simplified into a tabbed menu system that allows players to select what item they want to craft. It immediately shows players if they have the necessary parts to craft the item or not.
Graphics and Sound
Fable Heroes has bright colorful graphics that harkens back to the main Fable series. Each puppet is easily identified as their series counterpart (Reaver, Hammer, Jack of Blades, Lucien, Sir Walter, etc.), but their form is similar to the collectable dolls from Fable II.
The soundtrack, while not particularly notable, is fittingly playful. The puppets never talk, but they do occasionally let out yelps, grunts, or some other appropriate vocalization, in accordance to their action.
Minecraft: Xbox 360 Edition brings with it the excellent soundtrack from the PC version. Even better is the fact that the music cues play more often than the PC version. Long time players will also recognize all the sound effects. From the creepers "Sssssssss" to the "thunk" of pick-axe on stone, it's all here.
The charm of the simple blocky graphics from the PC version of Minecraft are there too.
Both games are fun, but for very different reasons.
Fable Heroes can be played as a single player game, but becomes stale. It's really meant to be played as a multiplayer game. It is built on competition with its mini games and rewards for the player with the most gold. That said it does have a "family" mode where everyone equally shares in the gold and fame at the end of each level. It is a niche game though that will really only appeal to two kinds of players; Fable fans and brawler/party game fans.
Fable Heroes, like the previous Fable II Pub Games, also serves as a wealth building game. When Fable: The Journey releases later this year all the gold you earn in Fable Heroes will be able to transfer over to your character for use.
For a game ported from a PC game, Minecraft: Xbox 360 Edition is a surprisingly strong game. This version has been taken from an earlier version of Minecraft, so PC players won't find all of the same crafts, items, and none of the endgame in the current PC version. Even without those, the basis of what makes Minecraft such a fun game, building and exploring, are here.
The only other fault I can find with it is that you will eventually hit an invisible wall. The random worlds in Minecraft: Xbox 360 Edition are not infinite like the PC version. Even so, they do give you more than enough space to play in.
Fable Heroes has multiplayer brawler/party game hybrid fun, but its single player drags after time gets a 4 out of 5.
Minecraft: Xbox 360 Edition brings all the charm and fun of the original to the console get s a 5 out of 5.
Both Fable Heroes and Minecraft: Xbox 360 Edition are rated E10+ for everyone 10 or older for Fantasy Violence by the Entertainment Software Ratings Board (ESRB). Both are available now exclusively on the Xbox 360 Live Arcade.
For more information on Fable Heroes, see the Fable Heroes web site. You can see the Fable Heroes launch trailer here.
For more information on Minecraft: Xbox 360 Edition, see the Minecraft: Xbox 360 Edition web site. You can watch the Official Minecraft: Xbox 360 Edition Trailer here.