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2010’s best DLC and downloadable games

Best Nintendo exclusives

Cave Story

Getting its start as indie freeware for the PC, Cave Story finally found its way to consoles this year as the foremost WiiWare title of the last 12 months, even if that field of contenders is fairly sparse. It coming to a Nintendo console, and then later to DSiWare, was fitting in how much inspiration the title takes from NES classics. In the spirit of Castlevania and with Mega Man, you explore and blast your way through a cleverly designed 2D world with a great soundtrack and a surprisingly engrossing plot.

Shantae: Risky’s Revenge


Above: Since every DS screen looks a little crappy by itself, let’s just go with videos for the DSiWare games

Shantae was an inventive Game Boy platformer with some of the best graphics that system ever saw, but it got ignored by many thanks to its release being too close to the GBA’s lauch. After many years and delays, the sequel subtitled Risky’s Revenge finally hit DSiWare this year and developer WayForward (A Boy and His Blob Wii) made another retro-flavored classic. Again, the adventure of the saucy genie Shantae had some of the best 2D graphics on its system, where old school platforming mixed with new ideas. But can we next the next sequel in less than eight years?

Photo Dojo

    

Not the deepest of games, Photo Dojo had a couple things on its side. First it was some of the most simple and silly fighting fun to be had using one button and the DSi’s camera. And second, it was free at its US launch, and currently goes for $2, so it’s one of the best values all year. I’m not saying it’s great, but out of all the trash on DSiWare that costs 200 pennies, Photo Dojo was your best choice.

Dark Void Zero

In a rare case of the simple spin-off outperforming its parent game, Dark Void Zero was an ingenious creation. A “lost 8-bit classic,” Zero was an original title that acted as a prequel to the disappointing Dark Void and played like your typical Metroidvania. But its old school love, including a really cute moment of blowing into a virtual NES cart, made it a memorable part of this year’s DS history.


The best remakes and ports

Monkey Island 2 Special Edition: LeChuck’s Revenge

Following in the style of 2009’s special edition of the first game, LucasArts gave Monkey Island 2 the all-star treatment. Not only did Guybrush’s classic adventure get a graphical, sound, and control update, but the clever PC classic had a feature more games should strive for. The humorous masterminds behind the classic, Ron Gilbert, Tim Schafer, and Dave Grossman recorded a very funny commentary track to their game. Perhaps not every developer is as entertaining as those guys, but they should be.

Earthworm Jim HD

For masochistic gamers who loved beautifully-crafted 2D graphics featuring annelids, flying cows, and cruel water levels, nothing was better than Earthworm Jim. The distinctive classic at last returned to consoles this year and the porters went above and beyond. The art got a dazzling HD upgrade and the difficulty could be adjusted so your average player could finally enjoy it. The new bonus levels and online multiplayer were just surplus to an already stuffed package.

Zeno Clash: Ultimate Edition

Zeno Clash was one of the most satisfyingly weird PC titles of 2009, and the indie first-person action game finally came to consoles with assistance from publisher Atlus. An eccentric mix of fantasy, steam punk and punching, it tells of one man’s search for purpose in a violent, harsh world. With welcome extra features for the XBLA release, Zeno Clash might not be the most polished game, but its outlandish tone sticks with you.

Prince of Persia Trilogy HD

Our UK readers might not know this, but us Yanks were deprived of a boxed copy of the HD PS3 versions of Ubisoft’s esteemed Prince of Persia games. Fortunately, all three hit the PlayStation Network soon enough here, so a whole new set of players could enjoy the classic, ground-breaking adventures with upgraded graphics. Microsoft could learn a lot from Sony’s success with these HD remakes, and we hope 2011’s Beyond Good & Evil HD comes out even better.

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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