With the release of the Xbox One signalling the slow end to the Xbox 360 generation I thought about all the great arcade games I’ve played over the years. So many good ones, so many bad ones.
Putting them into a top 10 would be difficult but I’ve given it my best shot. Here are my 10 favourite arcade games on the X-Box 360.
10 – Stacking
Double Fine are one of my favourite developers creating several of my favourite games including Stacking. An adventure/puzzle game based around Russian stacking dolls where you take on the role of the smallest doll, Charlie Blackmore whose family has been captured by the evil baron.
Charlie can stack & unstack into different sized dolls to solve puzzles, unlock areas & collect items. Different dolls have different abilities & interactions so exploration is key. With plenty of quests including, non-linear side quests with multiple ways to solve most of them, Stacking is easy to pick up & extremely satisfying.
One of the best things about Stacking is its visuals combining a steam punk-esqe feel with the era of the 1930’s & using serious subjects such as child labour to tell an interesting story.
A short DLC quest involving a Hobo King added a little extra for fans wanting more but didn’t really deliver much more variety then the main story gave.
9 – Scott Pilgrim vs. The World
The arcade version of the Scott Pilgrim story managed to capture the retro feel of the comics & movie perfectly. A side-scrolling beat-em-up with retro visuals, over the top boss battles & a killer soundtrack, it has become one of my all time favourite arcade games on the 360.
Telling the story of Scott Pilgrim who falls in love with Ramona Flowers & has to fight her 7 evil exes across levels set in his home town of Toronto. The game begins on the icy streets where random thugs, evil dogs & all manner of obstacles stand in your way & ends with an assault on a robot factory & battle with the ultimate evil ex.
Scott & a number of playable characters (the rest of his band) can level up & learn new abilities & increase their stats. An online co-op mode & extra DLC characters were added later on that added just a little bit extra to an already satisfying experience.
8 – Deathspank
To date there have been 3 Deathspank games (Deathspank, Thongs of Virtue & The Baconing). All 3 are great games but the very first game still remains as the best in the series. An action/RPG so to speak but played out in a 3-D pop-up book style it combines excellent gameplay with top notch humour.
Deathspank is the ultimate anti-hero wanting to do well but his natural cynicism & stupidity take over. His interaction with characters is hilarious & with an excellent weapon/levelling up system you really feel like the character grows as you make your way through the game.
With a nice mix of difficult bosses, lengthy side-quests & challenging puzzles Deathspank offers a lot of value for money & any game that has you chuckling as much as this does can’t be bad!
7 – Costume Quest
Another Double Fine game & one that came as a complete surprise to me.
Another adventure/RPG (see a trend here?) that takes place on Halloween night. You are out trick or treating with your twin when they are kidnapped by a monster. You are then tasked with exploring the neighbourhood collecting parts to your costume, candy & other kids to help you in rescuing your sibling.
It sounds deceptively simple & while it isn’t exactly a tough game it has layers of rewarding gameplay. There are plenty of side-quests & additional elements to add to your costume (upgrades, as you will). With large locations to explore & freedom to look around at your leisure you never feel like Costume Quest is trying to force you onwards.
6 – Bastion
An action RPG where a catastrophic event known as The Calamity has left the world in ruins. You play as the kid (no name) who wakes up on an isolated piece of land. As you move towards the edges land drops in making a path for you to move along & areas to explore but is also populated by enemies.
RPG elements such as upgrading weapons, health potions & levelling up are available & easy to understand. Bastion is a big game & one that encourages an additional play-through with a new-game plus carrying over all your items, XP & upgrades but increases the difficulty & adds a new mode.
One of the best games to appear the arcade to date.
5 – Plants vs. Zombies
Tower defence games have never been this much fun or looked as pretty.
The zombies are coming & you have to defend your house from the hordes by planting a wide variety of weaponized plants. Your choices are limited to a number of available slots & as some plants work better against certain types of zombies careful planning is a must.
As well as different types of zombies there are also a number of different types of levels. Ranging from daytime in your houses backyard, to night-time with an added pool & eventually the roof which is slanted. Each one brings in it’s own unique challenge & the amount of strategy needed to progress is unexpected but not frustrating.
With a huge variety of levels, mini-games & other modes Plants vs. Zombies more then delivers what you might want from an arcade game.
4 – I Am Alive
The event has happened destroying America & leaving cities devastated. People are starving & the government is useless to help, dust chokes the lives out of the few survivors left in the cities & paranoia is rampant. Inevitably violence follows soon after…
I Am Alive claims to be a survival horror title & while it isn’t quite like the Silent/Resident Evil type of survival horror it does manage to leave you unsettled & concerned about what may be up ahead.
We play the role of a male survivor who has arrived at a fictional city in ruins; he is searching for his wife & daughter. Throughout his search he will meet many characters, some friendly…others not. This is where the survival horror comes into play…
Ammo is short, combat is tough. Sneaking & surprise attacks are a must but bluffing is also a key part that can keep you alive just a little longer (point a gun at an NPC & they may believe it is loaded). Climbing & exploration is the only way to progress as the street levels are filled with choking dust that lowers the stamina bar – once it reaches the bottom it begins to affect your health eventually resulting in death.
Climbing for long periods also affects stamina so plan your upward journey carefully as you don’t want to run out mid-climb. Limited re-try’s mean dying does matter which is rare in a modern game.
These elements plus a deep & dark story combine to make a challenging yet rewarding game.
3 – Limbo
Limb came as a surprise…a puzzle/platformer that is in complete black & white & places you in control of a non-named boy who can jump…barely. How did an idea like that become of the best 10 games on the 360’s arcade?
The game takes place in 2-D as we control the boy searching for his sister. The environment is harsh & you can expect to die many times at the numerous puzzles. It has been called trial & die with the death imagery urging you to think about the puzzle again.
The boy can do very little, move left & right, limited jump, pull himself up on small ledges provided they are in reach, climb ladders & push & pull objects. Using these skills the player has to avoid obstacles & traps while pushing on through tough locations fraught with danger.
What makes Limbo so impressive is its black & white/grainy film effects with little music or sounds to create one of the most unsettling game experiences in a while. Eerie is a word often used to describe Limbo…well…until the spider showed up & then it just became terrifying.
The game has been called a work of art & its easy to see why, the ending is one for the player to decide upon as well.
2 – State of Decay
Having been disappointed several times over by promises of a great zombie game I approached State of Decay with an air of trepidation. We were being promised an open world game where the aim was to survive, build up a community, rescue survivors & fend of zombie hordes & it actually delivered….mostly.
It came with its problems but over the months has been patched to near perfection & with an endless survival mode DLC recently released it looks like the future is very bright for State of Decay.
That supplies were not infinite, that death for a character meant permanent death & decisions you made would have consequences is easily one of my favourite things about the game.
1 – Beyond Good & Evil HD
Originally released on the GameCube to no success this HD re-release of one of the systems best games was gleefully received by this gamer.
The planet Hillys is under constant attack by the alien life-force, The DomZ. The planet is defended by a military dictatorship called ‘Alpha Sections’ who rose to power on the promise of defending the planet. They don’t do a very good job of it & an underground resistance group called the ‘IRIS Network’ fight them believing they are in league with the DomZ.
The gamer controls Jade, a younger photographer, who alongside her uncle Pey’j, care for children orphaned by DomZ attacks. When money runs out to run the shield that protects their home from the DomZ Jade takes a photography job cataloguing all the species of the planet & eventually ends up helping the IRIS Network in uncovering the truth behind the Alpha Sections.
The game plays out like an action adventure mixed in with stealth sections. It is bright & beautiful…the HD touch-up is really clear here.
Jade & her companions are extremely likeable & the propaganda spread by the Alpha Sections makes for a tongue-in-cheek poke at modern governments. The mix of different gameplay elements keep it fresh from fighting DomZ, to sneaking past Alpha Sections, to racing in a hovercraft & my favourite…taking pictures.
Jades cataloguing job is a permanent fixture in the game & hunting down every type of species in the game is a challenge that never gets old.
The story is excellent & will leave you breathless by the end, sure its a bit abrupt & the game isn’t exactly tough but if you’ve explored there are more then enough things to reward your exploration.
Buy these games.