[In his round-up of the year's top console downloadable games, sister site GamerBytes' editor Ryan Langley looks at a year that brought us standout titles and a flood of content alike, highlighting his favorite games for Xbox Live Arcade, PlayStation Network and WiiWare.]
Previously in our end-of-year round-up: Top 5 Cult Games
Top 5 Handheld Games, Top 5 PC Games
, Top 10 Indie Games
, Top 5 Developers
, Top 5 Trends
, Top 5 Major Industry Events
, Top 5 Surprises
, Top 5 Disappointments
, Top 5 Controversies
, Most Anticipated Games Of 2011
and Top 10 Games of the Year
It's been an odd year for the console digital download space -- lots of promotions, a ton of new titles, but honestly I felt underwhelmed overall. Developers attempted to go a little further and in the end fell a little flat.
Publishers are finally attempting something with the digital realm -- THQ, EA, Ubisoft and Atari have all tried to be a part of games made by independent developers.
But the initiatives have had their up and downs. THQ and EA have done well with Costume Quest, Shank
and the DeathSpank
But Ubisoft's dealings with Bloody Good Time
and Atari's Blade Kitten
and The Undergarden
has made the idea of getting together with a publisher a little more worrisome for devs.
Doesn't mean that there weren't any quality games around, though -- we've collected the top 5 games available for Xbox Live Arcade, PlayStation Network, WiiWare, DSiWare and on PlayStation Minis, based on our own playing experience:
5. RISK: Factions
(Stainless Games/Electronic Arts, XBLA/PSN)
Now, I'm not much of a board game guy -- Scrabble
's been about as far as I've gone in that realm, But EA's digital variant of RISK
somehow pulled me in. It's just automated enough and just funny enough to become a ton of fun.
The campaign was a blast, and the different factions, from cats to zombies to robots, were all a great way to make a visually dull board game into something a little more unique.
4. Pac-Man Championship Edition DX
(Namco Bandai - XBLA / PSN)
The original Pac-Man Championship Edition
was a real gem for me - in fact it was one of the first games to get me interested in this whole digital download business. I'm only 25 - the original Pac-Man
was well before my time, and well, I was never much good at it. Pac-Man CE
changed that, though, and got me addicted to the Leaderboard chase all through my final year of University.
Now Namco have done it again with CE DX
, proving that a maze game is still viable in this marketplace. Instead of attempting to keep the tension up by making it more difficult to get ghosts, DX
goes in the opposite direction - ghost trains!
Pac-Man CE DX
has one of the most satisfying game sounds ever created - munching down 20+ ghosts all at once is bizarrely exhilarating, and hasn't been topped in 2010.
3. Toy Soldiers
(Signal Studios, XBLA)
A lot of other digital download titles might be going for the 'flashy and new' look, but Signal Studios' Toy Soldiers
took it in a decidedly different direction. Classic-looking toy soldiers from the early 1900s play their part in an action / tower defense hybrid that just works really well.
In fact, Toy Soldiers
, alongside its two pieces of downloadable content, has been a blast to go through -- and the replayability has been great across the different difficulty settings.
2. Super Meat Boy
(Team Meat, XBLA)
I'm a platformer guy at heart - I grew up on the Sonic
iterations of my generation, and Super Meat Boy
just takes it to another level.
The game is devious, masochistic, controller breakingly difficult and yet still intensely fun to play. And it's jam-packed with content, from the numerous levels to all the bandages you have to collect to all the secret warp zones and the always updating free level packs; I've yet to get bored with it.
It also helps that the controls are super tight, that there are numerous unlockable characters that are all unique playing experiences, and that it has that one-more-time addiction that Trials HD
had. Just a great game all around.
1. Monday Night Combat
(Uber Entertainment, XBLA)
While Monday Night Combat
's class-based action might initially look a little too much like Team Fortress 2
, it makes up for it by having an incredibly good multiplayer experience awaiting for you.
A mixture of a 3rd person shooter and Defense Of The Ancients
, Monday Night Combat
was the most fun I've had on Xbox Live Arcade this year. It's easy to get into a game and a multitude of strategies awaiting each of the maps.
Classes like Snipers, Support, and Tanks each have their own unique way through the level, and each can take down the other. Overall, fantastic work by Uber Entertainment, especially as its first independent title.
Dead Rising: Case Zero
(XBLA, Introversion Software)
(XBLA / PSN, Hothead Games)
(WiiWare, Shin'En Multimedia)
(XBLA, PlayDead Studios)
The Misadventures of P.B. Winterbottom
(XBLA, The Odd Gentlemen)
Swords & Soldiers HD
(PSN, Ronimo Games)
Zeno Clash: Ultimate Edition
(XBLA, Ace Team)