By masterbedgood 1 Comments
This list is similar to my previous post in that it’s a list… my own, personal list of the top five downloadable games that defined 2010 for me. The same restriction of “I have to have played it” in order for a game to be eligible for my list still applies. I don’t expect everybody to agree with my list, but it’s my list and you have a comments section down thither that you can use to list your own top X list. With that said, this is my top five downloadable games of 2010 list.
5.) Lara Croft and the Guardian of Light
Eidos did something different with their Tomb Raider star with this downloadable piece, breaking away from the traditional Tomb Raider formula in favor of a more twin-stick shooter-esque puzzle game. There is a story that you can follow from the onset of the game to its conclusion, but it’s not really genre-defining fiction; the real meat of Lara Croft’s downloadable debut is the gameplay.
LCatGoL is played from an isometric perspective which, aside from a few moments where you may get lost behind geometry or botch a jump due to an awkward angle, works well—especially for this type of game (namely a twin-stick shooter). It also works very well for aiding in the puzzle solving since you have a larger view of the environment; this isn’t to say that it makes the puzzle solving easy, but it aids you in being able to find what you are looking for and keep tabs on things more easily. Exploring the labyrinthine stages is also more manageable from this perspective as you have a clearer view of where you’ve been and what’s ahead of you. So, yeah, the camera works properly even though you have no direct control over it. Combat plays exactly how you would expect a twin-stick shooter to play—you move with the left analogue, aim with the right, and pull the right trigger to shoot.
This is a game designed with co-op in mind, so having a buddy along for the journey to watch your back really adds to the experience. I’ve played through quite a bit of the campaign solo and, while it’s still fun, it’s nowhere near as fulfilling as having someone else kicking butt and solving puzzles at your side. It really is an enjoyable experience with plenty of depth and content to keep you occupied for several hours—if you have a bud you can play the game with, that’s even better.
4.) Toy Soldiers
Toy Soldiers is a game that goes somewhere uncommon for the medium: World War I. Not the real WWI, mind you, but a toy box recreation of it that pits armies of mini models of military men against each other in a tower defense type game that lets you jump into the seat of the weaponry you purchase which allows you to have more direct control over you units which is a unique approach for the genre.
The campaign serves its purpose as a tutorial that eventually leads into more challenging scenarios with limited resources or the like that are designed to encourage you to adjust your strategy—standard fare for a strategy game campaign. There’s plenty of challenge to be had with the campaign as you strive to better your score or test out new strategic approaches, but I would say the real meat of the experience is taking the game on Live and battling real intelligence instead of the artificial variety.
Toy Soldiers is a charming game that features a soundtrack that echoes the time period with some fast-paced action for a game in a genre that has been content with being a more passive experience common to the mobile device platform it’s most popular on.
3.) Comic Jumper
I probably like this game more than it deserves, but I found it to be an absolute joy to play and the witty writing that bordered on “wrong” so many times was also a welcome addition to the experience.
Comic Jumper sees you in the role of Captain Smiley (a down on his luck superhero with Star, the vulgar, living star, on his chest) as he traverses through comic universes in an attempt to earn enough money to reboot his comic series. This plot element allows the developers, Twisted Pixel, to get all sorts of crazy with the presentation with constant changes to the art style as Captain Smiley finds himself in the barbaric world of Nanoc (inspired by Conan the Barbarian (Nanoc is Conan spelled backwards… in case you failed to pick that up)), the 60’s sci-fi of Origami Kid, as well as the strangely hostile world of the manga Cutie Cutie Kid Cupid (which, being a manga and all, is presented in black and white and has you running right to left).
It is inarguable that Comic Jumper is a creative game and the minds at Twisted Pixel have the ability to make you laugh at all the right jokes, but a game cannot stand on its creative merits alone. So, how does the gameplay hold up? Comic Jumper plays a lot like an SNES sidescrolling shooter from the 90’s—it’s nothing really original but it’s a welcome familiarity. Comic Jumper encourages multiple playthroughs as you upgrade your character and hone your skills and memorize level structures and enemy behavior. Speed runs are also encouraged in this game as each stage has a par time you’re encouraged to beat.
While it’s not a game that defines a certain genre, nor do I think it aspires to, it’s a game that’s undeniably fun and witty and a welcome addiction in my game library—I got more than my money’s worth with Comic Jumper and would be more than happy if Twisted Pixel decided to release new comics to play or a full-blown sequel.
2.) Super Meat Boy
This game is hard… nigh impossible at times, but it has some of the best platforming I have ever experienced—the controls are tight and the levels, of which there are many, are creatively brutal.
Super Meat Boy isn’t what you’d call a story-heavy game, but the story that is there is told in wonderfully charming flash animations that are disturbingly funny in the sort of way that you should feel bad for laughing, but you don’t. It’s a simple, “save the princess” type story that has so many retro references that it’s apparent this game was designed with the weathered gamer in mind—the brutal gameplay is also indicative of that. There’s not much more that I can say about SMB other than: if you don’t have it, you probably should... and be prepared for blisters on your thumbs (I’m being serious).
1.) Dead Rising: Case Zero
I never really got into the first Dead Rising game—never really saw the appeal and when I lost about two hours of content due to my forgetting to save, I gave up on the game (I didn’t realize that I could save my character’s stats and that the game was designed to have you die and restart multiple times… so, yeah). Anyway, with Case Zero, I decided to pick it up because it was released at 400 MS Points (five dollars) and I was surprised with the amount of content included in this little downloadable prologue… as well as a little disappointed with myself for never plugging through the original game.
For the five dollars, you’ll probably get a good two or three hours worth of game for your first playthrough and you could plug in another two or three to pound out the rest of the achievements. There are a lot of zombies to kill and your character’s stats will carry over to the full game if you ever decide to pick up Dead Rising 2. It’s a great game and easily one of the best titles XBLA has to offer—especially for the price.