Best Downloadable Games of 2010By Jake Gaskill - Posted Nov 19, 2010
Given the state of the downloadable games space these days (between full titles and downloadable content), it’s no wonder that digital sales have skyrocketed over the past couple years and are inching ever closer to matching traditional retail sales. This year was particularly great for lovers of digital purchasing as it gave us a fantastic mix of genres, styles, and content that gave us entirely new worlds to explore and gave us new ways to enjoy some of our most loved games.
First, let's take a look at some of the best games available on Nintendo's Virtual Console, in a little video from X-Play, and then we'll dive deeper into the guide.
(A quick note before we jump into our Gift Guide. Obviously, you can’t give someone/ask for a downloadable game or DLC, but instead, you’ll have to give/ask for either cash or Microsoft Points cards, which can be purchased online or at retailers like GameStop.)
Now onto our Gift Guide: Downloadable Games.
Limbo (1200 MSP)
Few full retail games deliver the kind of fully realized, fully immersive experience provided by Playdead’s brilliant Xbox Live Arcade title. This genuinely terrifying platformer builds tension and derives its power from the simplicity of its design and the flawlessness of its presentation. Forget best downloadable game of the year. Try one of the best overall games of the year. Period.
Rob Gilbert and his team at Hothead Games are a funny bunch, and in case you had any doubts, all you have to do is spend two minutes with this XBLA game, assuming the title alone wasn’t enough to convince you of this fact. Beneath all that humor though is a truly rewarding and deep dungeon-crawling adventure that spans two impressive downloadable titles. Diablo meets Monkey Island hybrids don’t come along very often, so don’t let this one pass you by.
Monkey Island 2 Special Edition: LeChuck’s Revenge($9.99/800 MSP)
This year was a big one for former LucasArts adventure game pioneers Ron Gilbert and Tim Schafer, so it’s only fitting that this year brought us the second remastered special edition entry in this classic point-and-click adventure series. Everything about these rereleases brings us joy: the ability to jump between the classic and remastered versions, the humor, the puzzle solving, the voice acting, the developer commentary. Nostalgic gaming doesn’t get much better than this.
And now, another word from X-Play, about the games that you should be downloading from Xbox Live Arcade this holiday season.
Comic Jumper (1200 MSP)
Twisted Pixel knows them some silly, gorgeous platformers, and Comic Jumper keeps this tradition, which the developer established in The Maw and Splosion Man, very much alive. With the help of the developers themselves, the game’s comic book hero star Captain Smiley is able to jump into four distinct comic books in an attempt to salvage his tarnished image. The game is hilarious, the art direction is superb, and the gameplay will put your gaming abilities to the test.
Scott Pilgrim vs. the World: The Game ($9.99/800 MSP)
Video game and comic book lovers were treated to yet another spectacular celebration of all things nerdy in the film adaptation of the beloved cult series Scott Pilgrim vs. the World. And, as you’d expect, the geek love didn’t stop there, thanks to Ubisoft’s 8-bit throwback to classic beat-em-ups. Not only is the game’s presentation spot on, but it also captured what we love/hate about old school games: they will kick your ass.
Costume Quest ($9.99/1200 MSP)
A turn-based, Halloween-themed, adventure game isn’t exactly the kind of game you’d expect to see from Psychonauts developer Double Fine, but then again, it kind of is. No one pulls off the quirky funny thing quite like Tim Schafer and his merry band of developers, and while it might not be Psychonauts 2, Costume Quest will more than hold us over…for now.
Lara Croft and the Guardian of Light ($9.99/1200 MSP)
Re-envisioning the Tomb Raider series as a top-down, co-op centric, downloadable game definitely took some creative thinking, and the folks at Crystal Dynamics proved themselves fully capable of accepting the challenge with this stellar downloadable title. It hit all the right notes fans of the franchise love, while offering a fresh perspective on one of gaming’s most iconic characters.
Dead Rising 2: Case Zero (400 MSP)
Capcom deserves some serious credit for deciding against releasing a typical demo for Dead Rising 2 prior to the game’s release, and, instead, releasing a full-fledged, standalone, downloadable prequel that not only introduced players to the world of DR2 but also rewarded them by letting them carry over their progress in Case Zero into DR2. If you want all the Dead Rising style zombie slaying without all the commitments of DR2, we have a prescription for you.
Pinball FX 2 (XBLA, Free)
Pinball lovers rejoice! Zen Studios takes the virtual ball and pin arts to new heights in this fantastic follow up. The game is free to download, and comes with one table to get you started. For more hot paddle action, you can of course buy more table, or import the tables you bought for the first game into the sequel. Throw in a new physics engine, improved graphics, online tournaments, and achievements and you can see why we didn’t hesitate putting our virtual quarters on deck to snag this title.
Super Meat Boy ($9.99/800 MSP)
As unlikely a hero as a chunk of bloody meat might be, Team Meat managed to convince wholeheartedly that a pound of flesh isn’t just an acceptable form of penance anymore; it can also be an adorable and acrobatic protagonist in a madly satisfying throwback to classic 8-bit gaming. With its bloody, quirky art style and endlessly challenging gameplay, Super Meat Boy is a must play for any arcade game lover. If you want a primer, you can play the Flash based precursor Meat Boy right here.
According to Big Sandwich Games' website, Hoard is a game "About Dragons and their treasure." Sounds simple, but that's exactly it. You're a scaly, winged, beast of the sky, and your goal is to capture as much booty as possible and stash it in your hoard. You can play solo, cooperatively, or competitively with up to four players locally and online as you try and kidnap princesses, destroy wizard towers, and fend off pesky knights. This PSN title delivers Smash TV-style gameplay with one stick flying your dragon, and the other controlling your breath weapon. Medieval multiplayer mayhem.
Once again, let's see what X-Play recommends for downloadable games this holiday season on the PlayStation Network.