Top 10 Early Xbox 360 Live Arcade Games

Top 10 Early Xbox 360 Live Arcade Games

Revisiting the dawn of downloadables

A.J. Maciejewski

Written by for Xbox 360 on

Xbox 360 changed the way console gamers get their fix by introducing Xbox Live Arcade games to the mainstream. Sure, the original Xbox had a rudimentary online store that was launched via a mail-order disc, but Xbox 360 made it easy by integrating a Marketplace into the user interface. Believe it or not, its decade anniversary is this year and I made this list to celebrate. Each game featured here was released within the first couple years and although there are a few remakes, you won't find any direct ports (sorry, Symphony of the Night). Anyway, let's reminisce about a time when digitally distributed console games were fresh and exciting.

10 Outpost Kaloki X

This launch title from NinjaBee takes city-building gameplay and adds a simplistic arcadey twist by having you try to make a space station profitable. Managing your station's supplies for intergalactic visitors' demands can get rather tricky, so stock up and hope there won't be any meteor showers during your hours of operation.

9 Hexic HD

New owners of Xbox 360s were delighted to find a copy of this hexagon-based puzzler preinstalled on their hard drive. Free stuff is always good, especially when it's a puzzle game as unique and addicting as Hexic. It also proved that Alexey Pajitnov was no one-hit wonder.

Hexic HD screenshot
Hexic doesn't look like much, but it sure is addicting!

8 Mutant Storm Reloaded

As a prime example of psychedelic twin stick shooting, Mutant Storm Reloaded is a fantastic and often overlooked gem. A previous game simply entitled Mutant Storm was available as a part of the original Xbox's limited library, so thankfully this newer version made it to a wider audience. Do you have what it takes to climb the Judo-inspired difficulty progression system and become a Mutant Storm black belt?

7 Alien Hominid HD

Well before the modern classics BattleBlock Theater and Castle Crashers debuted, The Behemoth created Alien Hominid. Featuring upgraded HD graphics, plenty of time-wasting minigames, and tons of violent carnage only an alien can be capable of, Alien Hominid HD is a must download for any fan of classic 2D action games.

Alien Hominid HD screenshot
In Soviet Russia, head explodes you

6 Carcassonne

Faithful representations of already established board games are few and far between. More often than not, the video game versions are simply missing the feel of their physical counterparts. This is far from the case when it comes to Carcassonne, so gather some buddies and explore the vastness of every land tile while you try to rack up more points than your rival meeples.

5 Lumines Live!

Puzzlers are best when they appear simple yet require layers of strategy to master such as in Lumines. This is the first non-handheld iteration and also happens to remain one of the most robust versions to date with a large selection of modes and downloadable content; most of which is included in the Qubed compilation. Give it a try and zone out while taking in all the trippy music and visuals.

Lumines Live! screenshot
Is this a music video or a puzzle game?

4 Cloning Clyde

Back in these early days, downloadable 2D platformers weren't as common as they are now. As NinjaBee's second 360 hit, Cloning Clyde filled the void perfectly with its chicken-kicking good times. Just remember, you're never alone with a clone!

3 Bomberman Live

Unfortunately, some classic game series eventually come to an end. This Bomberman game features online matches with tons of stages and customization options that will have you blowing up your friends until the wee hours of the night. It also happens to be one of the last official Bomberman games. Luckily, we got a sequel in the form of Bomberman Live: Battlefest a few years later, but we haven't heard much from the little bomber since Hudson Soft shut down operations in 2012. We miss you, Bomberman!

Bomberman Live screenshot
They may be cute, but they sure are deadly

2 Pinball FX

Zen Studios had some humble beginnings before they expanded to offer over fifty imaginative yet realistic pinball tables. As their first attempt at a pinball game with a total of nine released tables, players fell in love with the immediately satisfying gameplay and creative pinball themes. Nowadays, they're respected as true pinball wizards with tables modeled after Star Wars, Marvel, and even South Park.

1 Geometry Wars: Retro Evolved

Starting as a minigame in Project Gotham Racing 2, Geometry Wars quickly captured gamers' attention and became the stand-out title for Xbox 360's digital launch library. High score chasers would never be the same and neither would their bloodshot eyes. No wonder a handful of equally incredible sequels were released with the most recent iteration offering three-dimensional playfields and a massive campaign (read my full review here). Geometry Wars still remains an instant classic among old and new school gamers alike.

Geometry Wars: Retro Evolved screenshot
This is flashy twin stick shooting before it was mainstream
Gameplay video for Lumines Live! 33:56

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