Xbox Live Arcade began its life on Microsoft’s Xbox 360 simply enough. When eager gamers bought up Xbox 360s on launch day (November 22, 2005), they found a free copy of Hexic HD pre-loaded on their hard drives. Of course, it was another launch title that secured the platform’s success. Bizarre’s Geometry Wars: Retro Evolved both gave birth to the twin-stick shooter craze and demanded gamers take Xbox Live Arcade, which started in disc form back on the original Xbox, seriously as a digital games platform. Bizarre’s side project paved the way for the enormous variety of retro revivals, HD remakes, original indie projects, major studio releases, free-to-play games and more that have come to call XBLA home in the years since.
Today, we’re approximately one month away from the launch of the Xbox One, which will signal the end of XBLA as we have come to know it these past eight years. While Microsoft’s Xbox line will continue to be home to myriad low-cost downloadable video games, the XBLA moniker will not make the transition to Xbox One. It’s going down with the figurative (and literal) Xbox 360 boat. So what better time than now to count down the best XBLA games to ever grace the Xbox 360?
It wasn’t easy, but our staff has sorted through all of the best XBLA releases over the years and picked the ones that we feel are the true standout stars of the platform. Check back with us throughout the week as we run down five of Xbox Live Arcade’s top games every night. And don’t forget to head to the comments to let us know how much you love (or hate) our picks.
(Editor’s Note: Voting was conducted in early September. No games released post-Summer of Arcade 2013 were considered eligible.)
Ryan Thompson, Contributor — One of the promises of the Xbox 360 console that went largely unfulfilled was the idea that Xbox Live would expand to a point of truly joining together the entire community of players. The truth is that not a lot has changed since players began playing Halo 2 online almost a decade ago: we still join lobbies and play with small groups of people.
Microsoft has been rather silent on Full House Poker recently, which has prompted many of our readers to become worried the game might suffer a similar fate to its spiritual successor 1 vs. 100. The current summer season of Texas Heat started back in May, and while many of us have turned our calendars to fall, no plans have been made public regarding when Full House Poker will do the same.
Full House Poker was developed by Microsoft Games Studios and published by Microsoft Game Studios. It was released March 15, 2011 for 800MSP. A copy of the game was provided by the publisher for review purposes.
Last year, 1 vs. 100 pushed boundaries for what the digital space could provide on consoles by engaging thousands of players at one time in a game show like format. This year, Microsoft is back at it again with a spiritual successor of sorts in the form of Full House Poker. Players fill the shoes of their own avatars as they play the prevalent form of Poker (Texas Hold ‘Em), while attempting to expand their own virtual bankrolls. But do the cards deserve you going all in?
1 vs 100 apparently wasn’t a big enough success to get another season on Xbox Live. But if a rating by the Australian classification board is to be believed …