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.)
John Laster, Editor-in-Chief — Pinball FX2 shot out of the shoot pretty quickly and even three years later has shown very few signs of slowing down. Recreating a fantastic-feeling pinball experience in a virtual environment, Zen Studios has crafted a virtual arcade that will save you a lot of quarters and allow you to forget that you aren’t playing on physical machines. Utilizing a mix of original and licensed IPs, Pinball FX2 takes players from classic Rome to a galaxy far, far away with an entire pack of Star Wars tables and a plethora of other downloadable content.
Here we are once again at the start of what’s sure to be another fantastic year of XBLA releases. Each day this week XBLAFans will be rolling out a list of eight of our most anticipated Xbox Live Arcade releases of 2013. While we can’t possibly cover every single XBLA game planned for this year, we’ll be giving you a varied list of 40 of the most promising titles we expect to release on XBLA in 2013. Once it’s all done, be sure to check back in next Monday when each staff member makes his/her picks for the game he/she is most looking forward to.
Developer: Moon Spider Studio
Harold is a platforming/racing game, but not as you would expect. Far from charismatic or capable, the protagonist Harold is an embarrassment with legs. Luckily he has you, his guardian angel, to manipulate the track against his rivals and occasionally kick him in the pants with lightning. Harold twists side-scrolling racing with urgent puzzle-solving into its environment.