XNA Community Games Worth Downloading

I was going to dole these out a week at a time (see my previous posts on Being and Organon), but since I have zero free time these days, let's just get on with it.  There are a ton of Community Games out there, and, let's face it, most of them are absolute trash.  While it's cool that anyone who wants to can put a game up on CG, the sheer number of games is daunting for anyone that just wants to check them out.  The “Popular” tab doesn't help much either as it just feeds on itself, leaving out some of the gems.  There was only one way to separate the good from the bad: play all of them.  So I did.  And now, without further ado, here are the XNA Community Games that are, in my estimation, at least worthy of a demo download.


Note: To save time, I didn't include any puzzle, table-top, or card games.  Also, this list was made around mid-January 2009, so I haven't had a chance to check out anything that has come out since then.

Artoon


Gameplay Description:

Jump on tiles to color them, complete the level by coloring all the tiles. Extra points for never hitting the same tile twice.

Why it's worth downloading:

Each level has a different artistic theme (cell-shaded, colored pencil, mosaic), as well as an occasional quirk to the gameplay (move the camera away from a certian angle and the screen gets fuzzy), and I found myself looking forward to seeing what the next level would be like. Playing the game is serene, but at the same time you're also trying to be very precise so as to maximize your score. It gives you a letter grade score for each level, so I could see myself replaying each level to get the A+.

    BIOLOGY BATTLE


Gameplay Description:

Twin-Stick Shooter. Use power-ups and bombs to kill as many enemies as possible.

Why it's worth downloading:

Yeah, it's a lot like Geometry Wars, but it adds a lot to the formula. Power-ups like autonomous AI ships and different screen-clearing bombs are welcome additions, not to mention the fact that this can be played with four people! Definitely worth a look if you like shooting stuff.


Blow


Gameplay Description:

Blow bubbles from one end of the level to the other by placing fans around the environment.

Why it's worth downloading:

The music, as well as the lack of a timer, makes the game very relaxing to play, and the art quality is some of the best on Community Games. The game makes it easy to see how the placement of a fan will effect the bubbles' trajectory before you place it, but that doesn't mean it isn't challenging.

Bomber Boing


Gameplay Description:

2-3 players bounce around a Worms-style destructible environment and try to blast the ground out from under their opponents.

Why it's worth downloading:

There really isn't much to Bomber Boing, but that's part of the attraction. It's just stupid fun! Fast and frantic, it can be lots of fun with other people.

CarneyVale Showtime


Gameplay Description:

Shoot a ragdoll out of a cannon and use grappling arms in the environment to swing him to the top.

Why it's worth downloading:

For one, it's the most polished Community Game I've seen yet. Second, it's addictive. Like really. It takes those Flash ragdoll “games” that are so abundant on the Internet and builds a real game framework around them, making for an experience that, again, looks fantastic. It's very easy in this game to get into a rhythm of grappling, swinging, and releasing, very much like Pixeljunk Eden. Not to mention there are dozens of little balloons to collect on each level, which will keep completionists happy. I would love to see more games of this caliber.

Colosseum


Gameplay Description:

Brawler. Use the right thumbstick to attack and the face buttons for special moves.

Why it's worth downloading:

Impressively crafted for a Community Game, Colosseum is fully 3D and has a solid fighting system to boot. The camera gets a little wonky sometimes, but it's tolerable. As someone who is not great at fighting games, just using the right stick to attack was pretty easy to pick up, although that makes it easy to spam attacks too. Worth a download if you're into that kind of thing, and maybe even if you're not.

Galax-e-mail


Gameplay Description:

Twin-Stick Shooter. Destroy enemy bases to move on.

Why it's worth downloading:

Don't let the description fool you, this isn't a Geometry Wars clone. While there are dozens of those on Community Games, Galax-e-mail manages to outshine them with a twist on the gameplay: an objective other than “stay alive.” Players pick up a package at the beginning of each level with the objective of depositing it in a wormhole that only appears after every enemy base is destroyed. Various power-ups and the ability to change ship types (fast, normal, and heavy) on-the-fly, not to mention level designs more exciting than GeoWars' rectangle, make this a Community Games highlight.

    Groov


Gameplay Description:

Twin-stick shooter. Shooting enemies contributes to the music.

Why it's worth downloading:

Groov is Geometry Wars, except your bullets and enemies' explosions make up the soundtrack. You don't have a lot of effect on the music itself, but it's a great tune.

Hexothermic


Gameplay Description:

Introduce electrons to a grid of unstable atoms and create chain reactions.

Why it's worth downloading:

Each link in the chain contributes to the mellow guitar soundtrack. I could see some people really studying each level to figure out the most efficient way to do it, but that's too much work for me, so I just blast away. Still, there's nothing like getting that huge combo.

Johnny Platform's Biscuit Romp


Gameplay Description:

Platformer. Manipulate objects in the levels to kill all enemies.

Why it's worth downloading:

Yes, it's another platformer, but it's another good one. JPBR puts more of an emphasis on the puzzle-solving than straight platforming, but the controls are still as solid as they come. Levels are short and sweet, so there's little frustration, and the game is actually funny at times. The loud 8-bit art style and soundtrack may be a bit much for some, but I like it.

Loot, Steal 'n Destroy


Gameplay Description:

2 or more players sail their pirate ships around a 2D map trying to steal gold from the map and each other.

Why it's worth downloading:

Great fun if you've got someone else to play with.  Like Age of Booty, but simpler.

Plasma Spheres


Gameplay Description:

Platformer. Use your arsenal of tools to free little spheres hidden around the level.

Why it's worth downloading:

Well, it's kind of a platformer. Players control a little sphere and navigate a 2D level using jetpack-like thrusters to help free trapped allies and lead them to safety. There are enemies and environmental obstacles to deal with (you have a gun) and while the controls are a little unintuitive and the art is plain, it's still a competent game.

sin(Surfing)


Gameplay Description:

Excitebike on an oscilloscope. Press face buttons to pull off tricks while in the air.

Why it's worth downloading:

You control a little dude surfing on sine waves. It doesn't sound like much, and it isn't, but it's surprisingly engaging. Pull off combos by jumping off waves and flipping around. Holding the jump button spins you faster, and you can stand on your head for extra points (though this makes it more difficult to land). I found myself trying again and again to land that huge combo. Leads to a lot of "okay, one more game."


SMASHELL


Gameplay Description:

Drive your pod around an arena, jumping on enemies and collecting power-ups.

Why it's worth downloading:

The gameplay is pretty basic (jump on dudes, shoot dudes), but it's easy to control and not bad to look at (unlike a lot of other Community Games). Upon completing a certain number of waves, your pod gets an upgrade, such as the ability to shoot upwards or double-jump. That, the different types of enemies, coin collecting, and boss battles keep things interesting.

StarPilot


Gameplay Description:

Tron lightcycle game with power-ups.

Why it's worth downloading:

The Geometry Wars aesthetic seems popular in Community Games, probably because it's easy to create. So, while StarPilot doesn't really innovate in art or gameplay, the lightcycle part of it is fun, and the power-ups do well at making the game last. There are also numerous single-player challenges, and one of the few games on CG that features competent enemy AI.

Weapon of Choice


Gameplay Description:

Side-scrolling shooter with some twists.

Why it's worth downloading:

It's Contra with a few additions: super loud art style (which sometimes makes it difficult to see what you're doing), crazy weapons and enemies, and a close-call mechanic that slows time down when an enemy or projectile gets close to you, allowing you to dodge out of the way. The framerate isn't always great, and I'm not a big fan of the art or music, but it's worth looking into if you dig side-scrolling shooters.

World Revolution


Gameplay Description:

Missile Command on a sphere.

Why it's worth downloading:

The gameplay is essentially Missile Command, where the objective is to shoot missiles out of the sky, except that instead of being played on a 2D plane, this game is wrapped around a globe of the earth. This means that missiles can come from any direction, adding, literally, another dimension to the gameplay. Some of the UI elements are a little small to read, but overall it's a solid game, though I can't see anyone playing more than few rounds of it.
11 Comments
12 Comments
Posted by drewbert

I was going to dole these out a week at a time (see my previous posts on Being and Organon), but since I have zero free time these days, let's just get on with it.  There are a ton of Community Games out there, and, let's face it, most of them are absolute trash.  While it's cool that anyone who wants to can put a game up on CG, the sheer number of games is daunting for anyone that just wants to check them out.  The “Popular” tab doesn't help much either as it just feeds on itself, leaving out some of the gems.  There was only one way to separate the good from the bad: play all of them.  So I did.  And now, without further ado, here are the XNA Community Games that are, in my estimation, at least worthy of a demo download.


Note: To save time, I didn't include any puzzle, table-top, or card games.  Also, this list was made around mid-January 2009, so I haven't had a chance to check out anything that has come out since then.

Artoon


Gameplay Description:

Jump on tiles to color them, complete the level by coloring all the tiles. Extra points for never hitting the same tile twice.

Why it's worth downloading:

Each level has a different artistic theme (cell-shaded, colored pencil, mosaic), as well as an occasional quirk to the gameplay (move the camera away from a certian angle and the screen gets fuzzy), and I found myself looking forward to seeing what the next level would be like. Playing the game is serene, but at the same time you're also trying to be very precise so as to maximize your score. It gives you a letter grade score for each level, so I could see myself replaying each level to get the A+.

    BIOLOGY BATTLE


Gameplay Description:

Twin-Stick Shooter. Use power-ups and bombs to kill as many enemies as possible.

Why it's worth downloading:

Yeah, it's a lot like Geometry Wars, but it adds a lot to the formula. Power-ups like autonomous AI ships and different screen-clearing bombs are welcome additions, not to mention the fact that this can be played with four people! Definitely worth a look if you like shooting stuff.


Blow


Gameplay Description:

Blow bubbles from one end of the level to the other by placing fans around the environment.

Why it's worth downloading:

The music, as well as the lack of a timer, makes the game very relaxing to play, and the art quality is some of the best on Community Games. The game makes it easy to see how the placement of a fan will effect the bubbles' trajectory before you place it, but that doesn't mean it isn't challenging.

Bomber Boing


Gameplay Description:

2-3 players bounce around a Worms-style destructible environment and try to blast the ground out from under their opponents.

Why it's worth downloading:

There really isn't much to Bomber Boing, but that's part of the attraction. It's just stupid fun! Fast and frantic, it can be lots of fun with other people.

CarneyVale Showtime


Gameplay Description:

Shoot a ragdoll out of a cannon and use grappling arms in the environment to swing him to the top.

Why it's worth downloading:

For one, it's the most polished Community Game I've seen yet. Second, it's addictive. Like really. It takes those Flash ragdoll “games” that are so abundant on the Internet and builds a real game framework around them, making for an experience that, again, looks fantastic. It's very easy in this game to get into a rhythm of grappling, swinging, and releasing, very much like Pixeljunk Eden. Not to mention there are dozens of little balloons to collect on each level, which will keep completionists happy. I would love to see more games of this caliber.

Colosseum


Gameplay Description:

Brawler. Use the right thumbstick to attack and the face buttons for special moves.

Why it's worth downloading:

Impressively crafted for a Community Game, Colosseum is fully 3D and has a solid fighting system to boot. The camera gets a little wonky sometimes, but it's tolerable. As someone who is not great at fighting games, just using the right stick to attack was pretty easy to pick up, although that makes it easy to spam attacks too. Worth a download if you're into that kind of thing, and maybe even if you're not.

Galax-e-mail


Gameplay Description:

Twin-Stick Shooter. Destroy enemy bases to move on.

Why it's worth downloading:

Don't let the description fool you, this isn't a Geometry Wars clone. While there are dozens of those on Community Games, Galax-e-mail manages to outshine them with a twist on the gameplay: an objective other than “stay alive.” Players pick up a package at the beginning of each level with the objective of depositing it in a wormhole that only appears after every enemy base is destroyed. Various power-ups and the ability to change ship types (fast, normal, and heavy) on-the-fly, not to mention level designs more exciting than GeoWars' rectangle, make this a Community Games highlight.

    Groov


Gameplay Description:

Twin-stick shooter. Shooting enemies contributes to the music.

Why it's worth downloading:

Groov is Geometry Wars, except your bullets and enemies' explosions make up the soundtrack. You don't have a lot of effect on the music itself, but it's a great tune.

Hexothermic


Gameplay Description:

Introduce electrons to a grid of unstable atoms and create chain reactions.

Why it's worth downloading:

Each link in the chain contributes to the mellow guitar soundtrack. I could see some people really studying each level to figure out the most efficient way to do it, but that's too much work for me, so I just blast away. Still, there's nothing like getting that huge combo.

Johnny Platform's Biscuit Romp


Gameplay Description:

Platformer. Manipulate objects in the levels to kill all enemies.

Why it's worth downloading:

Yes, it's another platformer, but it's another good one. JPBR puts more of an emphasis on the puzzle-solving than straight platforming, but the controls are still as solid as they come. Levels are short and sweet, so there's little frustration, and the game is actually funny at times. The loud 8-bit art style and soundtrack may be a bit much for some, but I like it.

Loot, Steal 'n Destroy


Gameplay Description:

2 or more players sail their pirate ships around a 2D map trying to steal gold from the map and each other.

Why it's worth downloading:

Great fun if you've got someone else to play with.  Like Age of Booty, but simpler.

Plasma Spheres


Gameplay Description:

Platformer. Use your arsenal of tools to free little spheres hidden around the level.

Why it's worth downloading:

Well, it's kind of a platformer. Players control a little sphere and navigate a 2D level using jetpack-like thrusters to help free trapped allies and lead them to safety. There are enemies and environmental obstacles to deal with (you have a gun) and while the controls are a little unintuitive and the art is plain, it's still a competent game.

sin(Surfing)


Gameplay Description:

Excitebike on an oscilloscope. Press face buttons to pull off tricks while in the air.

Why it's worth downloading:

You control a little dude surfing on sine waves. It doesn't sound like much, and it isn't, but it's surprisingly engaging. Pull off combos by jumping off waves and flipping around. Holding the jump button spins you faster, and you can stand on your head for extra points (though this makes it more difficult to land). I found myself trying again and again to land that huge combo. Leads to a lot of "okay, one more game."


SMASHELL


Gameplay Description:

Drive your pod around an arena, jumping on enemies and collecting power-ups.

Why it's worth downloading:

The gameplay is pretty basic (jump on dudes, shoot dudes), but it's easy to control and not bad to look at (unlike a lot of other Community Games). Upon completing a certain number of waves, your pod gets an upgrade, such as the ability to shoot upwards or double-jump. That, the different types of enemies, coin collecting, and boss battles keep things interesting.

StarPilot


Gameplay Description:

Tron lightcycle game with power-ups.

Why it's worth downloading:

The Geometry Wars aesthetic seems popular in Community Games, probably because it's easy to create. So, while StarPilot doesn't really innovate in art or gameplay, the lightcycle part of it is fun, and the power-ups do well at making the game last. There are also numerous single-player challenges, and one of the few games on CG that features competent enemy AI.

Weapon of Choice


Gameplay Description:

Side-scrolling shooter with some twists.

Why it's worth downloading:

It's Contra with a few additions: super loud art style (which sometimes makes it difficult to see what you're doing), crazy weapons and enemies, and a close-call mechanic that slows time down when an enemy or projectile gets close to you, allowing you to dodge out of the way. The framerate isn't always great, and I'm not a big fan of the art or music, but it's worth looking into if you dig side-scrolling shooters.

World Revolution


Gameplay Description:

Missile Command on a sphere.

Why it's worth downloading:

The gameplay is essentially Missile Command, where the objective is to shoot missiles out of the sky, except that instead of being played on a 2D plane, this game is wrapped around a globe of the earth. This means that missiles can come from any direction, adding, literally, another dimension to the gameplay. Some of the UI elements are a little small to read, but overall it's a solid game, though I can't see anyone playing more than few rounds of it.
Staff
Posted by Kush

I will never understand why so many people bring up Artoon when talking about good XNA games. Maybe it's just me, but I didn't find the demo to be that special. On a side note, I do think that Blow is a pretty kick ass game that I find quite relaxing. I think it's still one of the best XNA games out there.

Posted by DXSSI

Oddly enough, I just got around to trying Johnny Platform's Biscuit Romp earlier today.  I like platformers and I like puzzle games, but in spite of that I really didn't enjoy the game.  It was just too simple-minded, and I was really distracted by how little of the screen was utilized.  I realize it's a community game and therefore going to be simpler than more professional releases, but even accepting that it was just too simple for my tastes.

I think I might have tried Weapon of Choice some time ago but I can't be sure.  The others I definitely haven't tried.

Posted by JJWeatherman

WAIT......Theres actually XNA arcade games worth downloading??  


juuuust joking. (sorta)
Posted by Kush
JJWeatherman said:
"WAIT......Theres actually XNA arcade games worth downloading??  

juuuust joking. (sorta)"
Everyone should download (and buy) Weapon of Choice...it's a great game and only $5! If the game got released on XBLA it would have sold a poopload!
Edited by JJWeatherman
Kush said:
"JJWeatherman said:
"WAIT......Theres actually XNA arcade games worth downloading??  

juuuust joking. (sorta)"
Everyone should download (and buy) Weapon of Choice...it's a great game and only $5! If the game got released on XBLA it would have sold a poopload!
"
probably true. I (and i'm guessing the majority of people) tend to overlook community games. Haven't got around to playing Weapon of Choice yet. Looks good though. I'm still waiyong for the dishwasher game, demo was sweet.
Posted by Kush

Dishwasher is getting the XBLA treatment, which takes considerably longer to process etc...but I still can't say enough good things about Weapon of Choice. It's the only XNA game that I've actually bought so far and I don't regret it at all. I think I may pick up Blow sometime too...you gotta love Blow :P

Posted by MattyFTM

I really really enjoyed biology battle.

Moderator
Posted by Skillface

Groov is kickass.

Posted by Evil_Eye

I'd add Johny Platfrom's Biscuit Romp to the list

Posted by Gearhead

What! No controller vibrating game?

Posted by MmmSkyscraper

Snake360 FTW.