Top Ten Downloadable Games This Generation... So Far

By Jordan Douglas on September 4, 2010, 5:59PM EDT
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This console generation has seen the rise of digitally distributed content in a major way. Everything from downloadable games and additional content to full retail products can be accessed without going to the store. In particular, digitally distributed games have drastically changed the console landscape. Teams without triple A financial backing can make a name for themselves, and publishers can take on riskier projects. In short: creativity thrives.

With that in mind, Gaming Union decided to compile our top ten downloadable games of this console generation. Retail games that were simultaneously released digitally (i.e. Warhawk) will not be included here. Without further ado, the top ten, in alphabetical order.

Braid

Platform(s): Xbox Live Arcade, PlayStation Network

Developer: Jonathan Blow

Braid takes a very deep approach to story telling, encouraging players to think more about the actual dialogue as opposed to just spoon feeding it to them. It's compelling and intriguing, and the open-ended nature of the game encourages a new kind of puzzle to solve. The actual gameplay and puzzle solving elements are truly brilliant and it makes the game a joy to play.

Everyday Shooter

Platform(s): PlayStation Network

Developer: Jonathan Mak

Everyday Shooter was a breath of fresh air for the twin stick shooter genre, popular among downloadable titles. The game's psychedelic visuals and music mechanic, where players add layers to the soundtrack by shooting objects, made it truly unique. Figuring out the secret way to complete each level was challenging and rewarding.

Flower

Platform(s): PlayStation Network

Developer: thatgamecompany

Flower is a one of a select few games ever (Team Ico's work being others) that have mastered storytelling purely through gameplay. The simple story is executed to perfection thanks to the gorgeous environments, and brilliant level design that conveys the narrative in a very subtle way. At every turn, Flower is pleasantly surprisingly and mesmerizing.

Geometry Wars: Retro Evolved

Platform(s): Xbox Live Arcade

Developer: Bizarre Creations

Geometry Wars was one of the first tastes gamers got this generation of a quality downloadable title. The addictive twin stick shooter helped usher in the revival of the genre through digital distribution. Retro Evolved's success fueled interest in Xbox Live Arcade as a platform.

Limbo

Platform(s): Xbox Live Arcade

Developer: Playdead Studios

Limbo is a unique puzzle platformer for Xbox Live Arcade. The game's use of a simplistic, black and white art style, and ambient sound design help create a surprisingly eerie, bleak atmosphere that compels the player to move forward. Coupled with a mysterious premise that largely lets you draw your own conclusions, the world of Limbo is never a dull one.

Peggle

Platform(s): Xbox Live Arcade, PlayStation Network

Developer: PopCap Games

Peggle not only appeals to a mass audience of "casual" players, but anybody who considers themselves a fan of games in general. Peggle consists of the simple task of shooting balls into a play area of pegs with the goal of removing all orange pegs from the board. It's a simple enough premise, but it has exceedingly addictive gameplay that causes one to lose themselves for hours trying to get that one last peg.

PixelJunk Eden

Platform(s): PlayStation Network

Developer: Q Games

PixelJunk Eden is the pinnacle of what downloadable games can offer - a completely original experience. The game's concept and execution of swinging around the garden of Eden, while collecting pollen to grow plants, thereby exploring the levels is something you have to try for yourself to truly comprehend. The beautiful visual presentation and catchy electronica soundtrack further enhance the experience.

PixelJunk Shooter

Platform(s): PlayStation Network

Developer: Q Games

PixelJunk Shooter is the fourth iteration into the PixelJunk franchise and like its predecessors, it's absolutely nothing like anything that's come before. PixelJunk Shooter has buckets of charm, and the way the elements all interact and flow is just outstanding. It features simple controls and rewarding gameplay as well.

Splosion Man

Platform(s): Xbox Live Arcade

Developer: Twisted Pixel

Splosion Man is easily among some of the best platformers out there. With great graphics, a fun theme, challenging levels, hilarious music, and unmatched single and multiplayer gameplay all rolled into one package, it's impossible to pass up this opportunity.

World of Goo

Platform(s): WiiWare

Developer: 2D Boy

World of Goo is a fantastically innovative, addictive physics-based puzzle game, easily one of the best offering on WiiWare. Much more than your average construction puzzler, the game's varied levels and objectives, realistic physics and gravity mechanics, and great atmosphere help make it an extremely original experience.

Honorable Mentions:

Bionic Commando Rearmed

Bit.Trip Beat

flOw

Shatter

Trials HD

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