Xbox Live Arcade – no matter what type of game you're into, the service has you covered with literally hundreds of offerings going for anywhere between five to twenty dollars – or 400 to 1600 Microsoft points, in the store's currency. Feel like some classic arcade action? Grab X-Men: The Arcade Game, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles or The Simpsons Arcade. Maybe first-person shooters are your thing? Gotham City Impostors and Blacklight: Tango Down have just what you need.
There's a plethora of classics that can be revisited here, and chances are you might have missed out on a certain few, due to more popular releases or maybe even retail games that took all your hard-earned money. But it's not too late, and we recently combed through the various games that are still available in the store for your purchasing needs. We definitely recommend hunting these down and adding them to your library ASAP. You won't be sorry – and for that matter, neither will your wallet.
Hydro Thunder Hurricane (Vector Unit, 1200 Microsoft points)
Vector Unit managed to capture the spirit of Midway's classic water-based boat racer and inject it with some new levels, online play and plenty of thrilling action with Hydro Thunder Hurricane. Take some big jumps, ram your competition out of the water with some turbo boosts, and shoot for first place in the best way possible. If you love arcade racers, this is a must.
Snoopy Flying Ace (Smartbomb Interactive, 800 Microsoft points)
In spite of using the all-ages Peanuts license, there's something for everyone to enjoy in the aerial action game Snoopy Flying Ace. Control the top dog – or a number of fellow Peanuts cast members – as they engage with enemies in friendly air combat, with an original storyline in tow and plenty to do on Xbox Live, either against AI or friends. Kids can join in the fun too – especially if something like Ace Combat: Assault Horizon is a wee bit too serious for them.
Awesomenauts (Ronimo Games, 800 Microsoft points)
At one point, it looked as if Awesomenauts wouldn't be releasing, as its original publisher was nearing financial ruin. However, the game was thankfully saved, and now Xbox Live users can take part in the fun strategic side-scrolling action that the game has to offer. With various team types, memorable characters, Xbox Live supported online functionality and one of the best theme songs to be heard in an XBLA release (think Stan Bush-style 80's rock anthem), Awesomenauts is, well, awesome.
Double Fine Happy Action Theater (Double Fine Productions, 800 Microsoft points)
A lot of Xbox Live-supported Kinect games are rather questionable – don't even get us started on Diabolical Pitch – but aside from Fruit Ninja Kinect, one game we continuously turn to is Double Fine Happy Action Theater. More of an interactive experience simulator than a plot-driven action title, Theater still has plenty of moments for users to partake in, whether it's swimming in lava or going crazy in fog. This is one players of all ages can enjoy. Lights, camera, interact!
Radiant Silvergun (Treasure, 1200 Microsoft points)
Up until late last year, Radiant Silvergun, considered one of the best "shmups" ever released for the Sega Saturn, never found a release on U.S. soil. However, like Ikaruga before it, Microsoft snatched this classic up and reworked it with beautiful high-definition visuals, along with a mesmerizing soundtrack and a stunning challenge level that Treasure has become known for with their games. No dedicated shooter fan should be without this gem.
Alien Hominid HD (The Behemoth, 800 Microsoft points)
Before they cooked up the Xbox Live best seller Castle Crashers, The Behemoth brought its side-scrolling shooter Alien Hominid to the service, complete with retouched visuals (which really highlighted the strong animation) and the kind of action you'd expect from the likes of Contra and other hardcore shooters. This is still a thrill ride, even five years after its release, especially once you get to the final boss. Good luck surviving this encounter.
Skullgirls (Konami/Revenge Labs, 1200 Microsoft points)
Xbox Live has its fair share of fighting games, including ports of hit Street Fighter and Mortal Kombat games. But by no means should you overlook the startlingly original – and highly entertaining – Skullgirls, a game crafted with utmost care. Featuring characters that hardcore fighting fans can relate to, as well as a detailed tutorial system that will teach you every basic you need to know about the genre, these Girls are a must for your next brawling party.
SkyDrift (Digital Reality, 1200 Microsoft points)
Most kart racing games can be dime a dozen, but what about ones that manage to get off the ground? We mean literally – like with the planes featured in SkyDrift. Digital Reality has managed to take the tactics of a competitive racing game and thrust them into the air, complete with wondrous courses to race through, full Xbox Live support for you and your friends, and plenty of power-ups that can help propel you into a first place victory. If you like racing games, this is definitely one to own.
R-Type Dimensions (SouthEnd Interactive, 1200 Microsoft points)
If you're a fan of classic shooters, the name R-Type should certainly ring bells with you. And in that regard, this compilation of two of the series' best games – R-Type and R-Type II – deserves to be in your collection. The shooting is frantic and challenging, but you can modify settings however you please so you can actually beat them. What's more, the games include both the original visuals, as well as new high-definition transfers that bring them more awesomely to life. No true shooter fan should be without this one.
Spelunky (Mossmouth, 1200 Microsoft points)
Originally released as a freeware title for Microsoft windows way back in 2008, Mossmouth decided to rework the game for Xbox Live Arcade earlier this year – and to greater effect. Featuring challenging side-scrolling adventure and puzzle-solving, Spelunky also comes with unlockable characters, consistently changing levels, and an editor where you can create your own custom set-ups and share them with others. If you're an old-school NES type of gamer, this should be added to your line-up immediately.