The Best of Xbox LIVE Arcade

Xbox LIVE launches – officially – in South Africa on 10 November, and the four locals who haven’t had a UK or US account for the past, like, three years already will doubtless be all up in a dizzy dither of excitement about it.

While the service over here will be somewhat scaled back (we’re not getting Facebook, Twitter, or Zune support, oh how will we manage to go on with our wretched lives), important stuff like the Xbox LIVE Arcade will be available. So what to blow your Microsoft Buckazoids on? THESE!

In no particular order, then, I present the 100% Incontestable Incontrovertible Indisputable Best of XBLA list. I mean, you can totally argue in the comments, but since this list is already titled “100% Incontestable Incontrovertible Indisputable”, there’s really no point, and nobody will believe you anyway.

Castlevania: Symphony of the Night (800 MSP)

Like a fine Cabernet Sauvignon, its 13 years of age have only enhanced Castlevania: Symphony of the Night’s flavour. Actually, “Symphony of the Night” even sort of sounds like a really poncy wine label, doesn’t it? Subtle chocolate-clove notes with just a delicate hint of Dracula’s angst-filled and pathologically sleepy progeny. Anyway, it’s a massive, side-scrolling explore-‘em-up with loads of ghosts and ghouls and some of the most unintentionally hilarious 8-bit digitised voice dialogue ever. 

Shadow Complex (1200 MSP)

It’s kinda like Castlevania, but with a nanosuit and a foam gun. It’ll probably take you around 6-10 hours to complete, then you can watch YouTube videos of guys doing it in 16 minutes and feel really inadequate. Go on, your inner masochist demands it.

Braid (1200 MSP)

If you buy only one game off XBLA, make it Braid. This puzzle-platformer must be one of the most ingenious, astonishing, and delectably devious games ever developed. If the Time and Decision world doesn’t make your head hurt, I’m going to assume you don’t actually have a head. And if you cheat by looking at a walkthrough, your children will be born dead. Backwards.

Castle Crashers (1200 MSP)

If local four-way co-op multiplayer, persistent character profiles, and loads and loads and loads of collectibles including a veritable host of miniature floating pets that do cool stuff don’t have you howling in desperation, perhaps a Weapon Frog will. What’s a Weapon Frog? It’s a frog, full of weapons. Castle Crashers is a side-scrolling bash-‘em-up from the old school of side-scrolling bash-‘em-ups, but with a Weapon Frog. What’s a Weapon Frog? It’s a frog, full of weapons. A Weapon Frog.

Trials HD (1200 MSP)

It’s a stunt bike game. I know, you’re thinking, “A stunt bike game? That sounds crap.” That’s what I thought too. Four hours later, I was still trying to beat a friend’s high score on the Ski Jump event. Which was all I’d been doing for four hours. A ten second event. For four hours. Trials HD is the gaming equivalent of crack. It’s also the only game I know of that had an Xbox Achievement patched because it was simply too difficult.

Limbo (1200 MSP)


Special mentions: Puzzle Quest 1 and 2 (NOT Galactrix; Galactrix is ****), Penny Arcade Adventures Episodes 1 and 2, Gunstar Heroes, DeathSpank, Peggle, Monday Night Combat, Lara Croft and the Guardian of Light, and Ikaruga.

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The Best of Xbox LIVE Arcade