Xbox Live Arcade is one of the premiere innovations in online gaming – both a marketplace through which to purchase ports, classic titles, as well as innovative and intriguing new titles that are growing in number on a daily basis. The service has it’s real diamonds, however, and in the hopes that it might save the consumer a great deal of time and money – here is a list of ten of the most worthwhile games currently available for download! Also make sure you check out our Top 10 Worst XBLA games.

Bejeweled 2 : This is a gem of a title, pun intended, for those souls who deeply enjoy puzzle games that are simple to play, difficult to master. Bejeweled 2 is an updated spin on a classic puzzler that allows you to play a relaxing free mode that simply plays until there are no viable moves left – conversely allowing the play to enter a panic inducing timed mode that simply can’t be beat. A great title, also available on the Popcap Arcade Volume 1 disc for the Xbox 360. Volume 2 is slated to be released early in 2009.

TMNT 1989 : A bargain for an arcade classic. All four turtles are represented here, and this version supports XBLA online play so you can team up with pizza munching turtle aficianados the world over! Cowabunga, dude!

Duke Nukem 3D : An old PC classic is revived on XBLA – with brutal results! If you missed Duke Nukem 3D the first time around when it became a PC gamer’s dream – now is the time to experiment with one of the groundbreaking FPS titles of the 90’s. Duke’s back, kicking more ass and chewing more bubblegum, this time offering co-op play over Xbox Live and more!

Geometry Wars 2 : Achieving a score of 90 on MetaCritic, Geometry Wars 2 is one of the few arcade games that actually manages to better the experience of it’s predecessor – offering new gameplay modes and the ability to take on the endless hordes of glowing neon adversaries with a friend in co-operative setting. Geometry Wars : Retro Evolved brought retro style arcade action to XBLA in a big way, the sequel merely hones the strengths to a point and offers a great deal more to gamers who love frenzied action!

Ticket to Ride : Very reminiscent of the classic Avalon Hill boardgame, Rail Baron – Ticket to Ride is a board-game themed title that allows you to become the ultimate traveller, purchase tracks, and compete against others in creating a network of rail that will be unsurpassed in this age of steel and wit. Very cerebral, and not for the faint of mind.

Soul Calibur : While it is true that this is essentially a port of the Sega Dreamcast classic, Soul Calibur remains very relevant, given the release of the fouth installment in recent months on the Playstation 3 and Xbox 360 consoles. The graphics were memorable then, slightly dated now, but the controls and the combat are as spectacular as ever. An expensive purchase, but very worthwhile.

Smash TV : Load up the guns, prepare to die an awful lot, and have fun doing it! Smash TV is faithful to the coin-op classic, retaining the strange sense of humour and gigantic boss battles. Best played with a friend for maximum enjoyment – or to see who can collect the most VCR’s and Toasters while blowing away the waves of baddies.

Castlevania : Symphony of the Night : As Alucard, you venture forth in the thirteenth (yes, thirteenth!) installment in the popular franchise – this game being a port of the Playstation game which is still somewhat of a rarity amongst collectors. A non-linear and extremely captivating storyline is enmeshed with responsive controls and a vast array of power-ups and equipment – lending Symphony of the Night a distinctive RPG feel. A must-buy for the price, or for any fan of the series whatsoever.

Bionic Commando ReArmed : An extremely high quality remake of the NES classic, Bionic Commando. An amazing techno soundtrack that is faithful to the tone of the original accents this fine game, as does an improved health bar system, co-operative play, enormous boss battles, and even a hacking mini-game for cracking into the enemy network! This title was highly anticipated, and delivered on nearly every promise. You won’t find many fans of the platformer genre that have not purchased this title.

Braid : Developed by an independent game designer, Jonathan Blow – Braid is perhaps the most innovative and exciting new title to be released on XBLA. The essential interest in the game is that it plays with the concept of time – nearly every level has a mechanic that allows you to rewind time, or to at least mould time in order to enable your character to do the seemingly impossible. A very forgiving and extremely unorthodox design that is compelling and very intelligent – Braid is a new breed of game that rewards intelligence and abstract thinking. A unanimous hit with the highest Metacritic score of all XBLA offerings, this title has captivated reviewers and gamers alike, especially given the impending release of homebrew titles onto XBLA for purchase.


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