March is almost here, meaning Xbox Live Gold subscribers have a fresh batch of titles to look forward to as part of Microsoft's Games with Gold initiative. On the Xbox One front, there's Telltale Games' Batman: The Enemy Within, plus Shantae: Half-Genie Hero, while March's Xbox 360 offerings are Sonic Generations and Castlevania: Lord of Shadow 2
Batman: The Enemy Within once again sees the Dark Knight being given Telltale's familiar point-and-click-style adventure treatment, continuing the narrative established in Season 1.
Shantae: Half-Genie Hero, meanwhile, delivers another solid, gorgeously presented entry in WayForward's well-regarded 2D platform series, blending spirited side-scrolling action with light Metroidvania progression, built around Shantae's transformation powers.
As for March's Xbox 360 offerings, Castlevania: Lords of Shadow 2 is the rather disappointing follow-up to developer MercurySteam's combat-heavy action-adventure reboot. "[It's] hostage to a story it tells badly, and a prisoner within a dull urban maze that refuses to become a characterful exploratory playground," wrote Eurogamer's Christian Donlan back in 2014.
Sonic Generations, however, is a much stronger proposition, blending breezy side-scrolling platforming inspired by the iconic hedgehog's heyday and the kind of into-the-screen 3D hijinks that defined his later, er, nay-day. The end result is a slightly wobbly but still endearing effort.
"Sonic Generations still doesn't do much to dissuade us that the hedgehog's best days are distant memories," wrote Tom Bramwell in 2011, "but at least it is a worthy tribute to them, capturing the subtler elements of the original Hedgehog's enduring appeal although still falling foul of some of his weaknesses."
If any of that takes your fancy, Batman: The Enemy Within is free to download as part of Games With Gold from 1st March until 31st March, while Shantae: Half-Genie Hero is free from 16th March until 15th April. Castlevania is available between 1st March and 15th March, and Sonic Generations goes free from 16th March until 31st March.