Microsoft has officially launched this year’s Summer of Arcade promotion for a series of blockbuster downloadable games on the Xbox Live Arcade platform. This year’s lineup holds two RPGs, an ambitious God game, the requisite 2D shooter with an indie twist, a sequel to a previous XBLA hit, and a port of the popular iPhone title Fruit Ninja. All in all, the selection is a mix across a variety of genres and levels of complexity promising a great deal of originality and color.Diving into the games, this week’s release is Bastion, an action RPG that’s the first release from new studio Supergiant games. The game was nominated for two IGF awards for its anime-inspired art style (pictured above) and its audio achievements for having a narrative delivered on the fly from a dynamic narrator. The game promises upgradeable weapons, 40 “hand-painted environments” and replay value from the RPG feature de rigueur, a New Game Plus mode.Out of this World creator Eric Chahi is back for From Dust, a “modern God game” where players control a primitive tribe hoping to recover ancient ancestors’ special powers. The “enemy,” if it can be called that, is Mother Nature herself. The game is the product of Ubisoft’s Montepellier studio and will be released next week.The week following will see the release of Insanely Twisted Shadow Planet, the first effort from Fuelcell Games. It’s a 2D shooter reminiscent of PixelJunk Shooter but with an even more colorful, indie-tastic art direction. The game is heavy on puzzles and ship upgrades and comes with online multiplayer modes as well.After that, in mid-August, comes Fruit Ninja Kinect, an XBLA port of the best-selling iPhone fruit slasher that has spawned a zillion clones. “Your arms are now blades,” reads the press blurb, as players will flail in front of their Kinect sensors to cut flying produce in half. The console version now includes Party Mode, a multiplayer tournament feature, as well as a Challenge mode.The promotion winds down with Toy Soldiers: Cold War, a follow-up to Signal Studios’ XBLA shooter from last year. Vehicles abound and toys explode in campaign, co-op, and competitive multiplayer modes.If players buy all five of the aforementioned games, they’ll receive a free download of Crimson Alliance, a four-player co-op dungeon crawler releasing outside the promotion in early September.Read more at Xbox.comBlake’s OpinionIt’s important to point out that a free download of Crimson Alliance, a game so highly anticipated that it can release outside Summer of Arcade, depends on the purchase of a Kinect game.There’s no reason to panic, as players can still purchase the dungeon crawling RPG on its own outside of the promotion. But if they want it for free, they’ve got five more games to purchase this summer.It is, in effect, a cute way of nudging hardcore gamers (the kind who purchase lots of XBLA games) to make sure they’ve got a Kinect. But for the continual skeptics, those who haven’t been swayed by children who want Kinectimals or by girlfriends who want Dance Central, a $10 game for free probably won’t push anyone over the edge.