Arcade games on Xbox Live Marketplace cost anywhere from 200 MS points ($2.50), to 1200 MS points ($15) and beyond. Pac-man Championship Edition, Braid, Schizoid, Geometry Wars 1 and 2, and The Dishwasher Dead Samurai are all excellent titles, and the total cost of all of them is about the equivalent of a full-priced retail game. Thrifty gamers can’t go wrong with these five original XBLA games. Make sure you also check out our article about Top 10 Best Xbox Live Arcade (XBLA) Games.
Best of XBLA – Pac-man Championship Edition for 800 MS Points
Remade from the ground-up, Pac-man Championship Edition avoids the cheesy feel of most classic remakes by retaining the original’s basic gameplay, but creates an entirely new game out of it.
While the player yet again takes control of a pizza-like circle gobbling up pellets and avoiding ghosts, now as the pellets on the left side or right side appear, the whole maze on the opposite side morphs into an entirely new maze.
With multiple modes of play, Pac-Man Championship Edition gives players frantic, point-grabbing action. The mouse vs. cat gameplay is especially satisfying when large pellets allow players to reverse the roles and gobble up ghosts for extra points.
Best of XBLA – Braid for 1200 MS Points
With an astonishing visual style like that of a living oil painting and with mind-bending, time-altering puzzles, Braid creates an experience unlike any other.
The peculiar plot unravels in-between levels. Each puzzle piece typically requires bending time, oftentimes in elaborate ways, in order to acquire the puzzle pieces and fit them all together to reveal an image.
While Braid is a short game with little replay value (other than to listen to the amazing soundtrack and absorb the soothing visuals), the sheer quality of the graphics, music, and gameplay all come together deliver an excellent, though unfortunately short, experience.
Best of XBLA – Schizoid for 800 MS Points
Basic arcade-style game Schizoid offers a fun co-op experience, or a brutally challenging single-player experience.
Player(s) control two ships with only the control stick–one orange, one blue. Ships destroy enemies of the opposite color, but die from enemies of the same color.
The co-op mode is simple but fun. For those who feel that new retail games are too complicated, Schizoid will work for them with a friend.
But as for the single-player mode, the difficulty ramps up astronomically high. Attempting to control two ships at the same time requires mind-bending concentration, and even the beginning levels require immense skill and concentration for success.
For those interested in either a casual co-op experience, or an unforgiving single player challenge, Schizoid is worth the 800 MS Points.
Best of XBLA – Geometry Wars Evolved for 400 MS Points, and Geometry Wars Evolved 2 for 800 MS Points
The never-ending geometric assault gives skilled gamers an immense challenge–to survive for as long as possible to achieve a high score.
The original Geometry Wars Evolved only has one game mode, but the thrill involved from surviving against a never ceasing horde of enemies is no more intense than it is here.
Geometry Wars Evolved 2, takes after its predecessor with the same basic, yet addictive and frantic, gameplay, but adds several new game modes. Simultaneously the most unique and rewarding new game mode takes away a player’s guns–forcing the player to destroy enemies by navigating the ship through gates. There’s also a multiplayer mode, but Geometry Wars shines as a single-player experience, while the multiplayer is more of a bonus.
Best of XBLA – The Dishwasher Dead Samurai for 800 MS Points
Clearly inspired from games like Devil May Cry, God of War and Ninja Gaiden, Dishwasher is a 2-D, side-scrolling action game with a dark theme and impressive visuals.
The player must hack countless enemies to bloody bits with various melee weapons including sickles, cleavers, and samurai swords, along with guns like shotguns and machine guns.
The visual style immediately impresses, even though the story-driving scrolling comics could have used a bit of touching up, the in-game visuals definitely add to the fun. Unfortunately, Dishwasher grows tiresome from repetition after extended play, but for short spurts of 2-D action, gamers can’t go wrong with this original Xbox Live Arcade title.
Other Xbox Live Arcade Titles Worth Checking Out
The Xbox Live Arcade offers original titles at an affordable price, they’re just difficult to find sometimes. A top 5 list is also insufficient for naming them all. If this list is simply not enough, be sure to also check out Alien Hominid and Castle Crashers.