Tech: The Best of Xbox Live Arcade
The Xbox Live Arcade is a service where Xbox users can buy and download games right from their living room. These titles range from simple arcade ports of retro classics like "Frogger" to new titles developed specifically for the XBLA. Unfortunately, the quality of the average game on the XBLA is middling, and a few of the games are downright awful. Anyway, here's some of the best of the bunch:
Geometry Wars: Retro Evolved
"Geometry Wars" was one of the most popular XBLA games for a long time, and it continues to attract fans. It has a simple, clean presentation matched by an equally simple premise - blow up as much %$&# as you can without dying. The game has been called "Robotron" on crack, and most of the time, it lives up to its reputation - bright neon explosions inevitably pepper the screen every time you play. The beginning moments are a bit boring, but a couple minutes in, you'll be blasting in and out of a maelstrom of enemies.
Pac-Man: Championship Edition
When people learned yet another "Pac-Man" game was coming to the XBLA, they balked. After all, both the original "Pac-Man" and "Ms. Pac-Man" were already available - how could a new game possibly match these classics? The crazy thing is, "Pac-Man: CE" actually lives up to its predecessors - it plays smoothly, it adds more strategy while preserving what made the originals fun, and the hard 5 minute time limit makes the game into a competitive, point-focused sprint rather than a snooze-inducing marathon.
Super Puzzle Fighter II Turbo HD Remix
SPFIITHDR has one of the most unwieldy names on the XBLA, in stark contrast to its kid-friendly, super-deformed character style. It's a puzzle game akin to "Puyo Puyo" or "Columns" - gems drop from the top of the screen, and you match gems of various colors for big points. There's a lot of strategy here - so much that the top players memorize the drop patterns for the various characters - but it's easy enough for even beginners to pick up and play. Several game modes are included, helping this to feel more like a full game than most XBLA titles.