A brief history of XBLA/PSN titles worth a damn.

There are a lot of games available through digital distribution now, and there's a lot of crap to wade through for the good stuff. Luckily for you, clueless buyer, I happen to have some recommendations.

List items

  • On PSN you can pick up a port of the arcade version of Tekken Dark Resurrection. A no fuss beat-em-up, this is my go-to game when I feel like having a quick fight with some friends. On top of its accessibility, it also has a compelling ghost and arcade mode where you can earn virtual cash to pimp out your favourite characters with new hairstyles and shades, and other accessories. It's simple fun, very arcadey, good for a quick laugh which is what the best downloadable games are about.

  • Get this one. Get it on PSN I guess, for the D-Pad more than anything else. As a lover of Mega Man 2, I knew I had to buy this and it does not disappoint. My only gripe is that Wily's Fortress is too difficult for me.

  • Bionic Commando Rearmed is pretty much download title perfection, maybe not in the 'play for just a minute' sense, but certainly in value and content. It's difficult to explain the appeal of a platformer with no jump button, but I recommend you watch some game-play footage and hopefully you'll understand.

    That grapple mechanic is the shit, the new bosses are awesome, and even the features they shoehorned in at the last minute like death match and co-op are really great.

    The visuals are stunning and the music is a brilliant pastiche of the original NES tunes. I don't know, I can't praise that game enough and it's only like £5.

  • PixelJunk: Eden is a charming platformer built around a swing mechanic. I don't rate the previous two PixelJunk games, but they kept trying and they're finally onto a winner. Brilliant visuals, a charming theme, excellent sound design and addictive gameplay make this a must buy for the price they're asking.

  • Geometry wars set the standard for Arcade titles to come way back with the release of the 360. It was addictive as hell then, and it still is now. Geometry Wars 2 however, is that much better. With 6 varied and original modes that are way more advanced than a dual-stick shooter has any right to have, and a constant on-screen leaderboard reminder to keep you motivated, you could easily sink the rest of your week into becoming number 1 among your friends.

  • Symphony of the Night is one of those rare games that has all the pick-up-and-play appeal of a platforming adventure title, but with the added depth of RPG elements, and nothing lost in the crossover. You can easily get hooked on this title, exploring every map square and discovering every hidden passage in Dracula's castle.

  • Releasing this game on XBLA was genius. What makes it work is how accessible it is, you can quickly jump into an online matchmaking game or you can face off with a friend for a quick few rounds. Or you could do both, and I can't tell you how ideal it is if you and your friends are having some pre-drinks before going out, or just have a few minutes to kill. It's the one arcade game that will always be there for you.