2009’s been another amazing year for the downloadable platforms. We though that 2008 was going to be a hard year to top, but once again we’ve been left staggered by the hours of entertainment that we’ve been given via PlayStation Network, WiiWare and Xbox Live Arcade.
This year, more than ever, whittling down the choice to just the top 10 involved lots of debating, shouting, and table tipping from the Console Arcade contributors. So without further ado here’s what we decided to be the cream of the crop of 2009.
10. Lost Winds: Winter of the Melodias
The orignal outing was one of our top five WiiWare games of 2008 and the sequel wasted no time in addressing the concerns we had from the first. Once again the dreamy visuals, charming world and sublime puzzles gripped us from start to finish, even if that didn’t take too long.
A much tighter and leaner experience as a result of lessons learned, Winter of the Melodias once again stands proud atop of Frontier’s pedigree in showing what WiiWare is capable of. We look forward to 2010 and hope that Frontier are already hard on work on another outing for Toku and Enril.
You can read our review of the lovely Winter of the Melodias by clicking here.
9. R-Type Dimensions
Giving not one, but two R-Type games a makeover in 2009 in one big package, Tozai Games’ reworking of the age old franchise set our retro loving hearts alight. Alongside the original visuals, they even worked in an amazing update which you could switch between the styles on the fly – proof positive that it wasn’t just a half hearted port but rather that it had been given lots of attention.
Remaining challenging, Dimensions gave more than enough reason for series veterans to flex their muscle memory again, whilst also giving those who may never have played it before a whole new reason to pick it up and try.
Read our review of R-Type Dimensions by clicking here.
8. Outrun Online Arcade
Sumo Digital gave Sega fans a real treat this year with their online enabled version of Outrun. The games addictive combination of racing against the clock and showboating meant that it was as playable as ever.
Somewhat marred by the problems with the online side, this didn’t stop Outrun Online Arcade being the perfect game for a download title, playable in quick bursts or marathon sessions.
For our full review of Outrun Online Arcade, click here.
7. WipEout HD Fury
Taking their highly successful update of the futuristic racer, released in 2008 (and which was so good it featured in our list of top games for that year), 2009 saw Studio Liverpool apply a massive update to their title and show everyone else the meaning of the words `value for money` when it came to DLC.
While not strictly a whole new game, the Fury update certainly made it feel like one. New tracks, new game modes, new crafts – the update reinvigorated the game and made us fall in love with it all over again. For that reason it gets a very worthy position in our top 10.
You can read our review of WipEout HD Fury from earlier this year, by clicking here.
6. ‘Splosion Man
Kicking off Microsoft’s Summer of Arcade event for 2009, ‘Splosion Man showed that Twisted Pixel certainly have plenty of crazy ideas for games and that their earlier release, The Maw, wasn’t just a fluke. With some crafty (and even downright evil) level design and a glorious sense of humour, ‘Splosion Man ticked all the boxes to make it an entertaining purchase.
You can read our review of ‘Splosion Man here.
5. Shadow Complex
If there was one game which showed how downloadable services have matured so quickly, then it was this summers hit, Shadow Complex. An incredibly engaging exploration / action game, Chair Entertainment packed enough thrills and spills into the game to put some full blown retail releases to shame.
Great to look at and amazing fun to play thanks to the sci-fi weaponry and feeling of power it bestowed on the player, the game set a very high bar. Only its relatively short length let it down, however the game clearly paved the way for a sequel and we’re certainly expecting bigger and better things.
For our full thoughts on Shadow Complex, you can read our review here.
When trying a genre that stretches back to Arkanoid (and perhaps even further), it takes some real effort to keep things interesting. But Sidhe Interactive managed that with Shatter, an amazingly addictive fusion of visuals, an astonishingly accomplished soundtrack and interesting gameplay mechanics.
Immediately playable, highly entertaining and achingly addictive, Shatter proved that even the oldest concepts can still be refreshed and tweaked to create something which is greater than the sum of their parts. Coupled all this with the joy and frustration of battling against your friends on the online leaderboards and Sidhe Interactive certainly made their mark in 2009.
Read our full review of Shatter to see why we loved it so much, by clicking here.
3. Critter Crunch
Powering in to the top three titles of this year, Capybara Games made a rainbow vomit encrusted splash with Critter Crunch. The lovingly crafted puzzle game has rich mechanics, an art style that so gorgeous it’s like soaking them in pure sugar, and a cracking sense of humour and while it might have been a translation of an iPhone title, Capybara didn’t just put together a simple port.
A wealth of game modes, plenty of challenge, and a robust online section meant that Critter Crunch is highly deserving of every single drop of praise that it gets. With this entry into the downloadable arena of gaming, we’re certainly expecting even bigger and better things from Capybara in the future.
Read our review of Critter Crunch by clicking here.
Games that offer every player a unique experience are very, very few and far between. But Flower is certainly one of those rarities that must be cherished.
Colourful, touching, mesmerising. There’s no end of words that you could use to try and sum up one of the most thought provoking and enjoyable games of 2009. Conjuring up a mixture of emotions and feelings, the game is literally a metaphor for so many different things that you could spend hours mulling them over. Instead we’ll just say that, if you haven’t already, Flower is an essential purchase for anyone with access to the PSN, and a very deserved runner up for our game of 2009.
Click here to read our review of Flower from earlier this year.
1. Trials HD
Sitting at number one was the game which dominated hours and hours of gamers time this summer. The physics-based bike riding title might have seemed simple to master, but this belied its true face – which doubtless caused no end of apoplectic fits of rage with its teeth gnashing challenges. However that didn’t stop Trails HD being one of those games that somehow kept on getting you to keep pressing that restart button over and over – a true testament to the finely honed gameplay.
It’s because of this that Trials HD is a very deserved winner of our top 10 games of 2009 and for the full low-down and why we loved it so much, read our review.