Seven great Xbox 360 Community Games you need to get

Buy these NOW or never complain about soulless corporate games again

What is it?
Oh, just one of your basic clown throwing games. Wait, clown throwing? Yep. After launching him from a cannon at the bottom of the stage, you use floating claws to grab and toss the clown in question, slinging him from claw to claw until you reach the flaming hoop up top. Various hazards are placed around the course, and your performance is judged on how quickly you ascend the stage and how many balloons you collect in the process, among other objectives.



Why does it rock?

CarneyVale Showtime plays like an old-school arcade game – increasingly difficult level arrangements eliminate the need for over-complicated controls and gameplay, but the advancing challenge keeps things exciting. The game actually feels out of place on the Community Games service, but not because of the potentially creepy subject matter. Rather, the polished visual look and meaty feature set (including a very easy-to-use level editor) suggest an experienced developer and a pretty decent budget, not to mention a game that could pretty easily be released on the Xbox Live Arcade as-is. No matter – it just means we get to pay less (only $5) for a pretty entertaining game.

XBLA Games it's better than: Screwjumper!, Shrek-n-Roll


Artoon

Price: $5

What is it?
Artoon is sort of like a modern-day Q*Bert, except you play as a bouncing ball that hops between floating 3D blocks or platforms. Touching 60% of the platforms opens up the exit, and you must keep moving to maintain your ever-increasing multiplier. As you continue on, you'll encounter blocks that must be bounced upon multiple times, moving platforms, and levels in which you cannot bounce on the same colored block in succession. Also, for some reason, the game shares its name with the developer of the disastrous full-sized suckfest Vampire Rain. Fun fact!

Why does it rock?
Vivid art design catches your eye from the outset, and while the game only contains a handful of distinct environments, each pops with thumping animations and brilliant effects. Artoon isn't the most challenging game out there, but you can get more out of it by aiming for high scores and touching all of the panels in each stage. Moreover, Artoon serves as a nice diversion – easy on the eyes, easy to pick up and play, and only $5 to boot.

XBLA Games it's better than: Frogger 2, RocketBowl


Johnny Platform's Biscuit Romp

Price: $ 2.50

What is it?
A port of a homebrew Nintendo DS game, Johnny Platform's Biscuit Romp finds your agitated protagonist hopping on robot heads and collecting cups of coffee. Designed to look (and ultimately play) like an 8-bit platformer, Biscuit Romp takes place on a vertically-skewed section of the screen that equates to just over one-third of a standard widescreen display. Alternatively, you can choose the option to display the game sideways, for those of you who have your TV mounted vertically (or simply want to lay on the couch).

Why does it rock?
Biscuit Romp isn't meant to be mind-blowing, but it has a lot of panache for a $2.50 game, not to mention some compelling level design. In many stages, the sides of the screen loop from one to the other, which means you can exit left and appear on the right, or drop down a hole at the bottom and appear back up top. This serves a strategic purpose most of the time, though many stages simply find you stomping on robots before heading for the goal. It's short and sweet, but this throwback feels just right for less than three bones.

XBLA Games it's better than: Bliss Island, Rocky & Bullwinkle

Blow

Price: $5

What is it?
At heart, it’s a puzzle game, despite the fact that there isn’t a brightly colored block or gem in sight. You’re in charge of safely guiding a parade of slowly drifting bubbles through mazes littered with all manner of obstacles. You do this by arranging fans in strategic locations and adjusting their strength.It's notyour average puzzler - it’s prettier for one, with lush, forest-y backgrounds and a natural, holistic feel offset by a sparse, tastefully low-vibe soundtrack.

Why does it rock?
As simple as the concept of placing fans sounds, there’s tremendous depth in the nuance of it all. Plus, when you complete the 70 existing levels, the game can generate new levels on the fly, so your bang for the buck is astronomical.

XBLA Games it's better than: Brain Challenge, Interpol: The Trail of Dr Chaos

Feb 26, 2009

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Freelance writer for GamesRadar and several other gaming and tech publications, including Official Xbox Magazine, Nintendo Power, Mac|Life, @Gamer, and PlayStation: The Official Magazine. Visit my work blog at http://andrewhayward.org.

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