The 23 best XBLA games

The best Xbox Live Arcade games, according to us

From addicting puzzle games like Peggle to Epic Games' exceptional 2D shooter Shadow Complex, we provide a comprehensive list of over twenty great video games available on Microsoft's Xbox Live Arcade service.

Since launching in 2004, Microsoft's Xbox Live Arcade has amassed a library of almost 300 titles available for download. Of course, not all of these XBLA games are worth purchasing, but there are a lot of games that definitely are. We've sifted through the entire catalogue of video games on the Xbox Live Marketplace, to handpick the twenty-three best games you should check out. It's also important to note that this is not a list ranked in order of quality, but is organized alphabetically.

A Kingdom for Keflings

1_XBLA_Games

Genre: Strategy

Cost: 800 Microsoft Points

Metacritic Rating: 78

Like Viva Pinata before it, A Kingdom for Keflings appears -- at least on the surface -- as a stripped down, simplistic strategy game. But what developer NinjaBee actually delivers is a charming, endlessly-addicting title that takes an original approach to the city-building subgenre of games. You can drop your Xbox Live Avatars into the game's medieval world, build a sprawling city for them, and then battle for precious resources either alone or with up to three friends over Xbox Live. While the game suffers from a few performance issues, A Kingdom of Keflings is a welcome and serene escape from real life that's recommended for fans of SimCity and Black & White.

Battlefield 1943

2_XBLA_Games

Genre: Shooter

Cost: 1200 Microsoft Points

Metacritic Rating: 83

EA's Battlefield 1943 is a downloadable, online-only FPS, but it's just as polished as a lot of shooters on store shelves. Developed by DICE, Battlefield 1943 mixes online multiplayer mayhem with vehicles and destructible environments afforded by the Frostbite Engine which powers retail heavy-hitter Battlefield: Bad Company. You can engage is some truly massive skirmishes in Battlefield 1943 -- we're talking blisteringly-intense 24-player online matches. And if running around on foot isn't your thing, you can also control jeeps, tanks, or just call in air support to rain fire down on your enemies from the sky. A testament to Battlefield 1943's success is the recent announcement that the game is the fastest-selling XBLA game to reach one million sales.

Braid

3_XBLA_Games

Genre: Puzzle/Platformer

Cost: 1200 Microsoft Points

Metacritic Rating: 93

Winning the "Innovation in Game Design" award at the 2006 Independent Games Festival, Braid is one of the most celebrated games on Xbox Live Arcade. Simply put: Braid stands out as a beautifully drawn, original puzzle-adventure that follows the story of Tim who must attempt to rescue a princess from an evil monster. Each of the game's time-controlling levels must be completed in a very specific fashion -- which can drive you a bit crazy -- but this indie-darling is worth the price of admission. Gorgeous landscapes and a somewhat harrowing conclusion are not only part of its charm, but major aspects of the game's success.

Castle Crashers

4_XBLA_Games

Genre: Action

Cost: 1200 Microsoft Points

Metacritic Rating: 82

Even though Castle Crashers had some issues initially, which included delays and spotty online play at launch, it's still one of the best co-op video games available on Xbox Live Arcade. A fast-paced, beat-em-up with fantastic art direction, hilarious characters and settings, The Behemoth's Castle Crashers is one of the most played titles on Xbox Live for good reasons. It's also a surprisingly long experience for a downloadable title, making the 1200 Microsoft Point price much easier to digest.

Castlevania: Symphony of the Night

5_XBLA_Games

Genre: Action

Cost: 800 Microsoft Points

Metacritic Rating: 89

While some might argue that Castlevania: Symphony of the Night is little more than a slightly made-over version of a 13-year-old title, it truly is one of the most satisfying action games available on Xbox Live Arcade. Awakened from a self-induced sleep, Alucard, the half-vampire son of Dracula sets off to investigate the entity of chaos that is The Castlevania. Filled with hours of adventure, multiple endings, and a moody musical score, Castlevania: Symphony of the Night is a steal at this price. It's not only an incredible journey throughout, Castlevania: SoTN influenced countless other titles -- including Shadow Complex -- and is hands-down one of the finest entries in the Castlevania series.

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