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.)
Shawn Saris, Contributor — Trials HD is a simple game. You have a bike, and you are tasked with getting from one end of the screen to the other. How hard could that possibly be? In some cases, a good argument could be made for it being impossible, and, as such, the first Trials went on to be known as one of the hardest games to grace XBLA. Years later, Trials Evolution stepped up to the plate with bigger, better levels, more bikes and an amazing track editor, allowing the community to make its own courses for years to come. Trials Evolution is a perfect example of the old mantra “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.” Instead of changing everything for the sequel, developer RedLynx left the core game the same and instead just added dozens of hours worth of content to challenge players.
This week’s deals offer some Xbox Live Arcade favorites and a few retro classics at deeply discounted prices. Xbox Live Gold Members can snag the exclusive sales starting today, …
A slew of new releases and deals have been revealed on Major Nelson’s blog. Included in new releases is the long anticipated Skulls of the Shogun, a game we have waited a long time for. Also finally joining the party is the all-new Scott Pilgrim online multiplayer mode, plus Wallace Wells as a playable character. Lastly, for all you deal headhunters, you might want to check out Hydrophobia available for a measly 160 MSP.
A certain platform that became one of the homes of the original Orcs Must Die last fall was conspicuously absent from the recent press release announcing its sequel, Orcs Must Die 2. Realizing that a number of Xbox gamers who purchased and enjoyed the first game feel slighted by what they perceived to be Robot Entertainment turning its back on them, the developer posted an explanation on its official forums today.
Justin Korthof, a community manager at Robot, explained that the reasons are not personal, but monetary. Korthof reaffirmed that the Steam/PC community playing the first game is “significantly larger” (note the emphasis) than the audience for the tower-defense title on Microsoft’s console. That being said, he did note that “Both communities are very passionate and loyal. We appreciate that immensely.” So the small-scale developer is extremely grateful for the support of all of its fans, but game development is a business like any other; and business, as it turns out, is business.
This decision was entirely about spending our resources in the best ways possible. We won’t get into too many details because it’s been noted already by many indie developers, but it’s important to understand that developing and supporting games for XBLA brings with it several additional processes and costs above and beyond the core development of the game itself. This can make development increasingly expensive and time-consuming. As a small developer, we have to be as efficient as we can with our resource investments. We can make a better game and we can make it in a shorter period of time by focusing on PC for the sequel.
Supergiant Games’ Arcade knockout Bastion has ranked alongside some of the most prolific AAA titles of the past year in the Academy of Interactive Arts & Sciences 2011 awards.
The awards ceremony, which takes place during the 2012 D.I.C.E summit on February 9, champions all corners of the games industry with prizes for retail, downloadable and mobile games as well as individual categories for specific genres. Said Martin Rae, president of the AIAS:
“These games exemplify the highest standard of excellence and quality, from the breathtaking cinematics, to the bold storytelling and the innovative technology. Our industry has really outdone itself this year and continues to exceed expectations with its creativity and craftsmanship. Bravo!”