So we finally will get to see if Braid can live up to the hype (“one of the greatest artistic statements ever made with any medium” – Arthouse Games) because it is coming to XBLA. I have a problem with pretentiousness, so I generally shy away from the big talkin’ indie game guys. And anyone that uses the term ‘ludology’. But I have heard many good things about Braid, so I plan on giving it a chance. And while he gives off the sanctimonious “indie” vibe, I really enjoyed his ‘Raspberry’ prototype and his discussion of his failed ‘Oracle Billiards’ prototype. I really and truly hope that he is an independent developer that talks a big talk and actually backs it up, rather than just riffing on nostalgic game ideals from the 70s/80s.

The aforementioned Arthouse preview said it stuttered on a 1.9ghz box, so I hope the optimizations have it chugging along on the 360. I’d hate to see it at less than 60hz. The concept is sound. I hope it is fun. The hype already earned Jon the 800 MS bux.

In addition to Braid, XBLA will be getting infuriating hardest-of-hardcore shooter Ikaruga, Ebay-favorite Rez (which looks very pretty) and Q’s other shooter: the alliterative Every Extend Extra Extreme. I’m curious of the last in that list, but I have played the first two and just don’t have that shmup-touch that folks need to really get in and enjoy the titles. I can admire their design from afar and think that they will be quality additions to XBLA as long as they don’t pierce the 800 point veil.

On top of that, there is the intriguing EXiT from Taito, the long awaited Castle Crashers and some shooter looking thing from Jamie Fristrom’s group called Schizoid. This is also in addition to the quality games we know are coming to XBLA such as Puzzle Quest.

I’m really and truly glad that the claim that MS had original content in the pipeline is coming true. Honestly, most of us out here expected retro ports (like the Wii has given us) and shovelware. The fact that there are reasons to buy a $400 system for some $10 games is remarkable.

In a related note: In my post-partem Bioshock depression I bought Paperboy on XBLA this past weekend. I completely forgot how addictive and difficult the game was and wondered aloud to my roommate how Midway hasn’t taken this coin-op license and burned it to the ground like they have with Gauntlet. GTA: San Andreas made riding bikes and breakin’ shit chic. As long as it had the ridiculous number of things to interact with that Paperboy did (What a busy neighborhood!), it would probably earn the $5 preorder.