Hot damn! (That’s the good kind of damn.) It’s like last Summer around the Xbox Live Arcade, except that we’re getting some good titles this time around. Alien Hominid, Worms, Ninja Turtles. Guess what’s coming this Wednesday? That’s right: Castlevania – Symphony of the Night. 800 MS points, or $10US. HD graphics, and a remastered soundtrack. Incomplete sentences. We have to stop complaining about the XBLA drought, now, so the next topic of complaint is sure to be how awful the 360 D-pad is for 2D platformers. I can’t wait!

The announcement of free matchmaking of Microsoft’s Live for Windows has bubbled around for a week or so, now, rendering a bitter little pill of consideration. Can Microsoft support charging Xbox gamers for an identical service, or will the Live business model have to be altered? PC gamers expect free online matches; Xbox pay a small subscription fee. Screen Play (via Joystiq) has a few good ruminations on the subject. In this generation, PC included, Microsoft is the only company charging for the online component of their platform. How much power will consumer expectations have on the market? (Answer: Not as much as the invisible hand!)

Last week, we wrote about developer/publisher Funcom shutting their doors to offline gaming, citing piracy as the motivating factor in switching to an online-only model. Shacknews has another side (not necessarily opposing) to the piracy issue as addressed by developers id and Epic. A telling quote from Epic Games (no more Mega) president Michael Capps: "It killed us to make Unreal Tournament 3 cross-platform, but Epic had to do it … The market that would buy a $600 video card knows how Bittorrent works."

How come France always gets the good screenshots? Jeux-France has scored some great shots of Final Fantasy VII: Crisis Core as well as a few gameplay details. Hit Destructoid for the details. My "Hello? Is anyone out there anymore?" take is that I’m awfully fucking tired of two things: 1) The quality of the Final Fantasy VII tie-in crap, and 2) The lack of Squeenix shovelware on Sony’s portable. I want lots of shitty RPGs, please. I have a fetish. I’m not proud of it.

For no raisin, the week of March 19 presents a cavalcade of games all begging for your money and love, with big puppy-dog eyes:

ETROM: The Astral Essence
Mission: Blackhawk
Genesis Rising: The Universal Crusade
S.T.A.L.K.E.R.: Shadow of Chernobyl
Silent Hunter 4: Wolves of the Pacific
Test Drive Unlimited
TMNT (the new one)

Xbox 360:
Tetris: Evolution
Armored Core 4
Earth Defense Force 2017
UEFA Champions League 2006-2007
Virtua Tennis 3

Castlevania: Symphony of the Night

Armored Core 4
The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion
The Godfather: The Don’s Edition (I’d love to see The Donald’s Edition)
Virtua Tennis 3

Shining Force: EXA
Test Drive Unlimited
UEFA Champions League 2006-2007

After Burner: Black Falcon
Dragon Ball Z: Shin Budokai – Another Road
Full Auto 2: Battlelines
Puzzle Quest: Challenge of Warlords (yay! Puzzles connected by weak story!)
Test Drive Unlimited
UEFA Champions League 2006-2007

Blazing Angels: Squadrons of WWII
Cooking Mama: Cook Off
The Godfather: Blackhand Edition
Kororinpa: Marble Mania
Wing Island

Custom Robo Arena
Major League Baseball 2K7
Puzzle Quest: Challenge of Warlords
Steel Horizon
Theme Park (hallelujah!)
Yu-Gi-Oh! World Championship Tournament 2007