The 23 best XBLA games

The best Xbox Live Arcade games, according to us



Genre: Puzzle

Cost: 800 Microsoft Points

Metacritic Rating: 89

Some have compared Peggle addiction to that of substance abuse. Of course, real substance abuse is no laughing matter, but Peggle does have the ability to melt away hours, leaving relationships ruined in its wake. Inspired by the Japanese game pachinko, Peggle is a casual game that has burst through the classification and latched onto every group of gamers. There's something to be said for a title that can draw in hardcore gamers and grandmothers alike, but Peggle does just that. The XBLA version also includes various multiplayer modes where those aforementioned hardcore gamers and grandmothers can throw down in epic online battles.

Portal: Still Alive


Genre: First-person Puzzle

Cost: 1200 Microsoft Points

Metacritic Rating: 90

If you don't have Half-Life: The Orange Box in your collection, you can download Portal: Still Alive on Xbox Live Arcade for a few dollars less than the cost of the full Half-Life compilation. Still Alive comes with the original mind-bending first-person puzzle game with a heaping serving of additional content: fourteen new challenges that were based on Portal: The Flash Version. With the recent announcement of Portal 2 coming later this year, now's a good time to prepare for the sequel.

Rez HD


Genre: Shooter

Cost: 800 Microsoft Points

Metacritic Rating: 89

Originally released on PlayStation 2 and Dreamcast, Rez HD is an Xbox Live Arcade-exclusive remastered version of the popular on-rails shooter. When it first hit stores in Japan, Rez was released with one of the most bizarre peripherals we've seen: The "trance vibrator." Thankfully (or maybe not?) Q Entertainment's XBLA version ditches the extra and delivers what shooter fans really want: a gorgeous remake of its addicting shooter. Rez still holds up today with its distinct visuals and pulsating electronic music that the player manipulates by playing the game and destroying enemies.

Sam & Max Save the World


Genre: Adventure

Cost: 1600 Microsoft Points

Metacritic Rating: 74

Hilarious, challenging and a great value: Sam & Max Save the World offers Xbox 360 owners the complete first season of the Telltale-developed series in one package. The game features six episodes that follow the adventures of two private investigators who also happen to be a pair of anthropomorphic animals: Sam is a canine who wears a suit and fedora and Max is an unidentifiable relative of the rabbit family who wears absolutely nothing. The 1600 Microsoft Point price tag might seem steep, but the bundle includes hours of content, and once you complete this series, season two is also available for purchase on Xbox Live Arcade. Give Sam & Max Save the World a shot and you'll likely understand why the series has received such high praise from critics, and why Telltale is considered one of the masters of the adventure genre.

Shadow Complex


Genre: Shooter

Cost: 1200 Microsoft Points

Metacritic Rating: 88

Borrowing elements from some of gaming's most beloved side-scrolling action franchises including Contra, Castlevania: Symphony of the Night and Super Metroid, Epic's Shadow Complex is one of the finest Xbox Live Arcade-exclusive titles available today. The game is presented in "2.5 D," where you move around in two-dimensional levels with highly-detailed 3D backgrounds and enemies. Shadow Complex's critical and commercial success can be attributed to the creative minds involved in the XBLA project, which include Gears of War creator Cliff Bleszinski as design consultant, comic book writer Peter David as scriptwriter, and award-winning science fiction author Orson Scott Card who licensed his Empire series for the game's universe and plot.

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