Here are the 10 best games you can find on the XBLA.
Rounding out our list of the best XBLA games is a little game called Trials Evolution. Like some of the best games on the 360, this game is simple and endlessly addictive. With that high score in the back of your mind, you flip, fly, and trick your way through a series of outlandishly laid out levels on your dirtbike, skis, or whatever else you can find. You can compete against yourself or see if you can knock the online leader off his pedestal. Or, you could crash into as many things you can just to hurl your body into the digital oblivion.
Harkening back to the golden age platformers from SNES, Super Meat Boy is an insanely challenging game with some of the most exciting and inventive levels imaginable. Admittedly, some of the levels might be controller-throwing-frustrating, but the payoff is well worth it. With super tight controls, you can vault whirring buzz saws and bounce your way up walls with the greatest of ease. Each level is fast paced and exciting with a visual variety that most games wish they had. Just remember, if you play too long, you might leave a meaty residue wherever you go.
Mash down Indiana Jones into a squarish looking cartoon character and randomly generate levels full of enemies and treasure in a 2d environment, then you might find yourself with a little game called Spelunky. The heart of this never endingly fun game is exploration. There is tons of treasure to find as well as a number of the requisite damsels in distress. You’ll need to jump, dig, and dynamite your way through each level to find all of the secrets the game is keeping from you.
At the same time, a homage to the 8-bit games of the past, and a bang-up-to-date puzzle platformer, FEZ wears many hats. You live in a 2D world until you are bestowed with a magic Fez which allows you to rotate your world 90 degrees in order to get around. This ability adds a whole new level of complexity to the exploration that is so central to this game. Exciting and intelligent, we would have loved to have this platform years ago. Nonetheless, it is still a classic and belongs in our list of the 10 best XBLA games.
This platforming time-bending adventure of love and regret is one of the more somber and beautiful platformers you’ll find on XBLA. As with most platforming adventure games, there is some sort of princess who has gotten herself into some sort of bother. But that is where the similarities stop and where you insert the ability to manipulate the flow of time. This adds a whole new layer of complexity to the puzzles and levels you have to negotiate as you make your way to the damsel in distress. This musing on life, love, and loss is one of the most compelling games you’ll find on any console.
Simplicity is at the heart of brilliance. This ingeniously cartoony game is as simple as it gets. You play as ‘Splision Man, a man with the ability to explode which can launch him into the air, destroy enemies, and bust down walls. As you escape from the lab, there’s only one thing to do. Explode. Something in your way? Explode. Need to get up onto that ledge? Explode. Need to beat up that baddie? Explode! With over 50 levels to enjoy by yourself or with partners, ‘Splosion Man is well worth the meager MS Point asking price.
If you’ve been missing the side-scrolling beat ‘em ups of your childhood, then you’ll be delighted when you download Castle Crashers. You and up to three other people play as knights in a cartoonishly medieval world who have to save four princesses. Sound like every other game? What if I told you one of the bosses was a giant demonic head of corn? That grabbed your attention. If you’re looking for a bit of old fashioned beat ‘em up with a dash of lunacy, look no further.
A stark and horrifying take on the 2D platform puzzler, Limbo is not a game that you’re likely to forget, and is our choice for one of the best XBLA games. A boy must find his way out of a horrible nightmare world full of bear traps, giant spiders, and a whole host of other things trying to kill him. Each new chapter reveals a little more depth to the black and white world in which you’re escaping. With puzzles that are sure you keep your brain as twisted as the land you’re exploring, Limbo is a game that shouldn’t be missed.
A gorgeous looking game that harkens back to the isometric RPG’s of yesteryear, Bastion is one of the best action RPGs available, period. You play as The Kid who wakes up to find his world torn apart by The Calamity. He has to make his way to The Bastion in order put the land back together. As you move about the world, tiles of land shoot up under your feet. With his trusty hammer and assortment of upgradeable weapons, amazing soundtrack, and own voice over guy, The Kid has pretty much all he needs to save the land of Caelondia.
Shadow Complex blasted its way onto the scene and the world of the XBLA hasn’t been the same since. Jason Fleming and his girlfriend Clair stumble upon the secret base of a revolutionary group. After saving the girl, Jason then has to stop the radical group from mounting an attack on San Francisco. To top off the relentless 2.5D action (It is predominantly a sidescrolling game where you can attack enemies in any plane via auto-aim), the story continues in Orson Scott Card’s Empire series of books.
There you have it, the 10 best XBLA games. Do you, dear reader, have any comments or suggestions? Let us know!