Feature: Xbox Live Arcade: Staff Favorites - Part Two
Posted by Dave Letcavage
Factions, Evolutions, and Quests! Oh, my!
With the Xbox One looming on the horizon, and a new marketplace set to launch with its arrival, the Pure Xbox staff has decided to take a look back at some of our personal favorite Xbox Live Arcade games ever to be released. We aren't necessarily saying these are the best of the best (though a few may be), but instead admitting that for one reason or another these are the experiences that left the biggest impact on us.
So without further ado, here's Part Two of Two of our favorite XBLA releases.
Trials Evolution is not only my favorite XBLA game, but it’s also one of my most highly revered games of all time. This is a side-scrolling platformer on motorbikes, with incredible physics, and truly addictive gameplay that, in a lot of ways, feels like a spiritual successor to Nintendo’s Excitebike series. Alone or with friends, there’s lots to do, and with a extensive level creator and a thriving community, there are an endless amount of user-created courses available for download – many of extremely high quality – ensuring that you’ll have more than enough reasons to play this one for a really long time. Heck, it’s one of the only games that has kept me playing on a fairly continuous basis for well over a year. Can’t wait to see how RedLynx follows this one up with Trials Fusion. I think it goes without saying that they've got some mighty big tracks to fill.
There was no way I was going to like this game…or so I thought. While the 80’s vibe seemed to not only be on full display, it was also hyper-accentuated, and initially seemed like WayForward was making a mockery of the series. They weren’t. (Well actually, they were - but in the best of ways!) Surprisingly well-rounded combat, memorable locales/boss battles, all laden with dialog so ridiculous that you can’t help but laugh – with or at the game, it’s up to you – and just enjoy the ride. This is Double Dragon meets Bill and Ted; it may be absurd and offensively stupid at times, but if you can stomach its bro-ness, it’s one of the best co-op beat-em-ups in recent years.
Runner 2 is the perfect example of how to make a super-sized sequel. With refined controls, new play mechanics, more intricate level design and tons of content, this is a fantastic proposition for fans of runners or platformers. Actually, classifying Runner 2 as a simple runner would be a disservice to what it offers; which is tight, reflex-dependent platforming, that just happens to keep you in motion at all times. Plus it’s narrated by Charles Martinet, who is known for voicing Mario and other popular Nintendo characters. Isn't that reason enough to take Commander Video and friends out for a jog? I should think so.
A game that still haunts me to this day when thinking about it. It remains one of the few XBLA games that I've played through in one sitting mostly due to the brooding atmosphere and visuals. Some people were turned off by its tendency to throw every dangerous trap imaginable your way (which resulted in many gruesome deaths) but I found myself genuinely engrossed throughout, bent on ensuring the young Boy would find his sister. Let it be known, I was not prepared for the ending that followed. Just amazing.
I adore any game that can make me feel like a kid again and Costume Quest sent me back to my childhood almost immediately. Brewing with charm, Costume Quest nails the humour and cutesy characters we've come to expect from a Double Fine game, and throws in a pretty rad combat system too. I loved walking the streets collecting candy, fighting creatures in my beefed up robot attire, suited with homing missiles. I mean, how can you not have a good time with this game? Packed with tons of things to do, this Halloween RPG kept me hooked for a long, long time.
The first Alan Wake is one of the best action games in the 360 library and upon finishing the main game and the two pieces of DLC, I still wanted to dive in to Alan's world and fend off Mr. Scratch. People will criticize the overly confusing narrative, but for me, the mystery of not knowing what happens next was the drive to keep playing. Throwing in an intense and wickedly fun horde mode gave the combat a more arcade-y feel that I never thought would have worked. This is a franchise I hope Remedy chooses to continue on next-gen after Quantum Break. In my opinion, more Alan Wake is never a bad thing.
As a puzzle fanatic, and a fan of Telltale's previous work (especially Back To The Future) this one was a no-brainer. The Walking Dead was done so superbly, and had such a touching story to it, it was great. Even though it was based on the comic book, it had its own story and little nods to AMC’s Walking Dead, to give you an alternate view of what was going on in TWD world. Being that you could have literally hundreds of different interactions in each episode, I don’t think there’s a possibility to see everything the game has to offer; an excellent example of what XBLA games should be.
I’m also an avid pinball player, and I love both the physical and virtual versions. When FX2 was released and I learned you could import FX1 tables, I knew the developers meant business! The way this one is setup is perfect because you get to purchase the individual tables you want to play. Nothing is forced on you. The digitized versions of the pinball tables are beautiful, the themes are very authentic, and the physics are unbelievable. In my opinion, this is the best that the genre has to offer.
I’ve been playing Risk for over 20 years, and even though there are many different versions, the basic strategy element has never been lost; which is the reason it remains one of my favorites. But Stainless Games created a masterpiece out of this one. The campaign is quite genius, giving you multiple approaches to success, and no matter how many times you play it, you'll never play it the same way twice. These are the kind of XBLA titles that don’t make you think twice about purchasing.
So what about you guys? Have any of our selections also had an impact on you? If not, what are your favorite XBLA experiences? Be sure to let us know in the comments below.