Probably everyone at some time has played the “build-it-up-knock-it-down” game. We used to take children’s building blocks, assemble them into some form of castle, position plastic Army men in and around the blocks, then bounce a super ball towards the whole mess. Last person who still had an Army man standing won. Now with Kinect, we don’t have to set all that up; instead, we can play the new Xbox LIVE Arcade game Wreckateer and blast our way through 60 sweetly destructible castles all with the power of our ballista and our own movement.

Download the demo or full game of Wreckateer today!

Remember, as part of the Summer of Arcade, if you purchase Wreckateer and two other SoA games, you’ll get 400 Microsoft Points!

At the ballista in Wreckateer

The Basics
Here’s one basic for you: this may be the most fun Kinect game I’ve ever played. At its heart, it’s a simple over-the-shoulder physics-based shot-taking game similar to Angry Birds or the brilliant Rock of Ages. But when you combine this concept with the physicality of Kinect and a couple of friends, it becomes a hoot and a holler to watch your buddies flying around the room as they try to use body English to manipulate their missile shot.

Your task is to destroy various castles of the realm. You do this by controlling a ballista (basically a ground-mounted giant crossbow) and firing missiles at the castle walls. Once you take a shot, you can wave your arms about in order to nudge the missile in a desired direction, whether to score more points, do more damage, or take out the snickering goblins that have overrun the doomed castles.

Blowing up a castle wall

It’s surprisingly simple and refreshingly responsive. Walk forward to the ballista, hold your hands together to “grab” onto the ballista trigger then step backward to increase the pull strength. Step to either side to aim at your target and raise or lower your hands to aim lower or higher. Then open your arms wide to release the shot.

Once the missile’s in air, use your hands to swipe at the ball to get it to move in a preferred direction. Certain missiles have additional abilities. For instance, the Split Shot explodes into four smaller projectiles. You must use your hands and arms to corral the shots and aim them at the castle walls. Flying Shots can be controlled by holding your arms out at your side (like playing “airplane” as a child) and bobbing and banking the missile into whatever you’re aiming at. There are six special shot types that you earn as you progress further in the game.

The scenery is beautiful in Wreckateer; blow it up

The Levels
The marvelously cartoony art style conceals some pretty devious level design, with buildings hiding behind high walls, towers that contain explosive devices, and usually a bunch of obnoxious goblins laughing their fool heads off at you. You can make a salute with your right hand to get a bird’s eye view of the whole level.

You get a certain number of shots (and a mix of different types of shots) to destroy a castle. You don’t need to completely destroy a castle but do your best, eh? You can do all kinds of things with your shots: fire them through point-scoring shields, fire them through three goblins to earn a mulligan (a do-over), bank your shots off the ground and into structures (generally, the lower you hit a structure the more damage you’ll cause), and more.

Maximize the destruction to earn Bronze, Silver and Gold medals. If you get Gold on all the levels, a special Challenge Level will open up in that area.

Flying through the air

Avatar FameStar
Avatar FameStar is the latest cool thing to come out for Xbox LIVE Arcade games, specifically for those games that allow you to play as your avatar. It’s basically another level of achievements but instead of being awarded gamerscore, you get exclusive avatar awards. Initially launching withWreckateerFull House Poker, and A World of Keflings, it will also appear in new games coming down the road so keep an eye out for this feature.

Here’s how it works. While you’re in the game, check the Bonus Challenges and the Weekly Challenges which are specific to each game. For instance, in Wreckateer, Bonus Challenges include playing the game for the first time, destroying a certain number of windmills, completing certain levels and more. Completing any of these challenges earn you Fame Points. These fame points accumulate until you automatically unlock exclusive avatar clothing and other awards. The Weekly Challenges act the same but the challenges will change, so keep an eye out for that.

You can track all the challenges, the awards you have won and are yet to win, and your current amount of fame points from the game’s main menu, and you can compare your fame points to your friends on FameStar leaderboards. The avatar awards can be used across the various games, too!

Multiplayer and More
Wreckateer’s multiplayer is basically just local hotseat, but it’s actually pretty funny to watch your buddy flapping and weaving and then collapsing into the chair shouting, “I’m sweating!”

The single-player campaign alone is a doozy. You’ll spend some time trying to make all the Bonus and Weekly Challenges, trying to figure out how to maximize your destruction score on certain levels, and in general, just enjoying the hell out of blowing things to kingdom come. At only 800 Microsoft Points, if you have a Kinect, this is for you.

Download the demo or full game of Wreckateer today!