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2010’s best DLC and downloadable games

As downloadable games get better every year, it’s no surprise that the days of brick and mortar stores seem numbered. 2010 saw a host of new downloads both big and small, good and bad. Whether they were bite-sized ideas done to perfection or had production levels that rivaled full games, players with internet connections were really blessed this year.

Follow me as I take you down a digital memory lane of this year’s best, whether console exclusives, on Steam, multiplatform or whatever. Also in here somewhere is recognition for the best add-ons and some dubious honors for the download games that let everyone down this year. So plug in your Ethernet cable and get ready.


Best PSN exclusives

Joe Danger

PSN didn’t have a huge amount of exclusives this year, but Joe Danger stood out big time. With a play style of trial and error through increasingly demanding stunts similar to Trials HD, Joe distinguishes itself with its violently fun sense of humor based around stuntman injury. Using the level-creator you can put the would-be Lance Murdock through an unending number of stages, and there’s always the need to stay competitive with your friends on the leaderboards. Even at its $14.99 price there’s enough content to keep you playing and pulverizing Joe over and over again.

Auditorium HD

Auditorium HD really surprised us. Coming out near the end of the year with little fanfare, this puzzle game drew us in with its visuals, but the sound is where it really shines. This unique, abstract puzzler is hard to describe, but once you get into it and even end up enjoying the Move controls, you’ll see it as one of the top downloads of the year.

Dead Nation

Twin-stick shooters are a dime a dozen in the world of downloads, but this undead nightmare from the developers of Super Stardust HD really mixes things up. Zombies and high caliber graphics to make up for the familiar play style and top down viewpoint, and aside from a steep learning curve, Dead Nation one of the best PSN originals in awhile.

Alundra/The Arc of the Lad

This is a special and very biased entry for the PSN-exclusive section. Back in the PlayStation/Saturn days, one of the few US publishers giving weird, super-hardcore Japanese games a chance was Working Designs. It unfortunately closed years ago, but this year their wonderful localizations of games like Alundra (a crazy hard Zelda clone) and classic RPG Arc of the Lad came to PSN thanks to a deal between Monkey Paw Games and former Working Designs exec Victor Ireland. Can the Working Designs’ versions of Lunar be far behind?


Best XBLA exclusives

Dead Rising 2: Case Zero

For as many great download games PSN got, XBLA was the king of downloadable games this year. For example, look at an exclusive like Dead Rising 2: Case Zero. Even though Dead Rising went multiplatform, 360 got the first taste of the zombie title in this short-ish prologue.  It lasted long enough to give you a preview of the zombie slaying fun without outstaying its welcome, and the $5 price tag was one of the best deals on XBLA all year. Here’s hoping next week’s equally 360-exclusive Case West is just as good.

Monday Night Combat

Like twin-stick shooter, tower defense games are pretty well represented in the world of downloads, but out of the few good ones this year (Darwinia+ and Toy Soldiers to name a couple) Monday Night Combat was the finest. The slightly twisted sense of humor helped, but MNC’s best quality was mixing class-based, third-person shooting with online teamwork for one of the richest and most deceptively simple strategy games all year.

Chime

Music-based puzzle games are nice, particularly when they have new songs by major talents like Phillip Glass and Moby like Chime does. You know what’s nicer? Charity. The best game to date by Zoe Mode (mostly known for perfectly acceptable karaoke games) all the proceeds of the $5 dollar game went to a good cause. This addictive, melodic mix of Lumines and Tetris didn’t need that edge to sell you on it, but every little bit helps.

Limbo

Many games were great this year, but few grabbed you and stuck with you like the hauntingly beautiful Limbo. Everyone that played it was bewitched by the black and white journey of one small, fragile boy through a dangerous world filled with giant spiders, brain-controlling bugs and murderous children. It was a mysterious, puzzling delight all the way to its enigmatic ending and showed just what talented developers can achieve with enough independence. Perhaps the best download all year (don’t make me choose between it and Super Meat Boy!), memories of Limbo will linger for a long time.

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45 comments

  • anduin1 - January 25, 2011 12:48 a.m.

    Um...all of those "XBLA exclusives" are all on Steam :/ fail less
  • Firenzeta - December 30, 2010 8:42 a.m.

    As RushofBlood17 said, Chime is on PC well ahead of 2011, making it no longer a XBLA exclusive.
  • philipshaw - December 24, 2010 1:14 p.m.

    Great article, downloadable games have had a better year than retail games
  • Fuzunga - December 24, 2010 6:43 a.m.

    How is Bit Trip Runner not on this list?
  • Lionzest7 - December 24, 2010 2:41 a.m.

    honestly, I didn't feel like sonic 4 was a big disappointment... I felt like they tried to make the game like the old ones, but wanted to keep it nostalgic. I felt like it was a decent game, not really disappointing. I don't care that much about the graphics, the fanmade one is better looking. Honestly though I felt like sonic will just never be made into anything acceptable to all. "The Sonic Fan"
  • OHMYGODIMONFIRE - December 24, 2010 2:18 a.m.

    I'm gonna have to disagree on the Dorito's dissing. Crash course is an incredibly fun game, and i know i've spent at least three hours in the one day that i've owned it playing online with friends. I haven't played harm's way, though i have heard good things. Besides, they're both free.
  • oxman89 - December 23, 2010 6:54 p.m.

    Monday night combat! xD thats expected for release on steam in january. It makes me excited because i can have tf2, AND mnc!
  • EricBratcher - December 23, 2010 6:53 p.m.

    Weird - I thought the Sonic games would be the most controversial entry on this list, but it's the Doritos games. Go figure. Incidentally, if anyone is playing the new Fallout: New Vegas DLC Dead Money and wondering why it didn't make the cut, it's because it came out too late. It could very well be excellent.
  • sleepy92ismypsn - December 23, 2010 6:20 p.m.

    Undead Nightmare has so much to offer for only 10 bucks. Personally I don't think Joe Danger is worth $15 so it's a good thing I waited til black friday to buy it half off. For some reason I always though Super Meat Boy was a XBLA exclusive.
  • elilupe - December 23, 2010 5:40 p.m.

    haha I remember when Shamus Young from the Escapist got obsessed with Chiime, and played it so much he got number one on the world leader-boards for a short time!
  • PushesPaperInACircle - December 23, 2010 4:02 p.m.

    I had a lot of more fun with Castlevania: Harmony of Despair than with Scott Pilgrim. Henry should give Crash course another shot because the controls are pretty tight.
  • GR_HenryGilbert - December 23, 2010 3:40 p.m.

    @japstersam Yeah there were a few that hit way too late for me to play and include, notably Enslaved: Pigsy's Perfect 10 and BFBC2: Vietnam. Plus Dead Rising 2: Case West has the audacity to launch next week, taunting me with further incompleteness. Also you guys are right, Chime stopped being an exclusive a few months ago. It's way too late for such a major edit, but how about we all use our imaginations and mentally move Chime to the multiplatform section and then fill its 360-exclusive slot with Toy Soldiers or Risk: Factions, whichever you prefer.
  • gilgamesh310 - December 23, 2010 3:23 p.m.

    Why would Dead Space Ignition be there if this is a list of 2010's BEST dlc and games?
  • DirkSteele1 - December 23, 2010 11:32 a.m.

    I find it hard to criticise any game that has a price tag of 0MSP/£0, even if I have to put up with advertising for salty snacks. Both Doritos games were mildly amusing diversions. And I achieved 200G on both. Crash Course multiplayer with friends on line was a good laugh. Scott Pilgrim and Snoopy Flying Ace would be my DLC games of the year (based on hours played). And Limbo of course was excellent. Sonic 4 was the biggest disappointment. Please Sega, just give us what we want!
  • japstersam - December 23, 2010 9:30 a.m.

    probably a bit late for this article, but BFBC2 Vietnam is a sweet add-on! also, like a few people have said, the achievements in harm's way took less than 10 minutes, probably the easiest 200 this side of avatar :D but yes the ones in crash course were awful, the game was a good laugh but just not fun enough to try and nail gold on every level! also although i don't play it, all my friends seem to think cataclysm is a great add-on.
  • veryweirdguy - December 23, 2010 8:48 a.m.

    @jmcgrotty seems a bit extreme. Care to expand...? I've found more enjoyment this year from downloadable titles that retail releases, for sure.
  • jmcgrotty - December 23, 2010 8:30 a.m.

    This article is an embarrassment. Downloadable games/content are the cancer of the industry, and making a list like this seems like you are trying to legitimize the process.
  • AA95mp - December 23, 2010 8:17 a.m.

    Sam and Max should have been on here
  • mattchew86 - December 23, 2010 7:45 a.m.

    Stupid me splurged for the DX addition for Sonic Adventure. If I would have known how completely useless it was, I would've used that $5 to get a pack of smokes.
  • Limbo - December 23, 2010 7:07 a.m.

    Super Meat Boy is probably the most addicting game I've played in a while. I actually just played the demo and accidentally ended up buying it. At first I was super mad at myself because I just wasted all my points, but then I played it some more and I can't stop. Slowly on my way to 100%ing the damn thing. Oh yea and Limbo is amazing.

Showing 1-20 of 45 comments

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