Top 10 PSN/XBLA Downloadable Titles

Over the course of this console generation’s life-cycle, we’ve seen a ton of downloadable titles hit both the PlayStation Network and Xbox Live Arcade. Currently owning over 140 downloadable games available for both platforms, I’ve decided to sort through my catalog of titles and list which ones are entirely worth the purchase. It’s important to note that all the titles mentioned here are available for both the PSN and XBLA, no exclusives. Also, these are titles that were built with the downloadable format in mind, so no HD remakes/classics are included here. Here are my personal choices:

10) BloodRayne: Betrayal

Wayforward Technologies is very well known when it comes to having outstanding 2D visuals; full of color and insanely detailed frame-by-frame animation. Mainly known for their work on Shantae and Mighty Switch Force, BloodRayne: Betrayal provides gamers with an old-school, 2D action/platformer that will test the skills of any gamer. With precision style platforming and challenging gameplay, BloodRayne: Betrayal provides an experience and sense of satisfaction that replicates old-school gaming.

9) Braid

A combination of Mario platforming with Prince of Persia time-rewinding effects, Braid has you thinking to the point of migraines. Trying to solve some of the most bizarre yet ingenious puzzles, you will venture through six worlds, each trying to explain your character’s story of how he was taken away from his princess. With some of the most inventive mechanics, alongside a mind-blowing twist, Braid is one of those games that should not be passed up by any means.

8) Limbo

You wake up in a forest, notice that there’s no signs of life anywhere and everything’s black and white. With no tutorials presented at all, you take a few steps forward and your head gets decapitated from a bear trap that’s camouflaged in the game’s backdrop. Immediately, you know you’re in for something surreal. As you progress, you’ll approach a massive spider that blocks you path. With no combat to utilize what-so-ever, you’re forced to rely on the environment and wits as your way to fight back. Limbo is an incredibly eerie game that makes you curious as to what’s going on the more you play. It’s not only one of the creepier games available this generation, it’s also one of the most unique experiences available on the PSN and XBLA.

7) Hard Corps: Uprising

When it comes to “old-school, controller throwing, cursing repeatedly to your screen” frustration, Hard Corps: Uprising certainly excels in this scenario. However, any Contra fan knows that those games are practically as hardcore as it gets. Hard Corps: Uprising, developed by ARC System Works (known for Guilty Gear and Blazblue), was able to capture the Contra formula while adding it’s own enhancements to the mix. Upgradeable weapons, health, lives and abilities help make this a game that starts off absurdly hard and lets you work your way forward. Thankfully, not only is the traditional local co-op in place but there’s online co-op as well to share those memorable frustrating moments with a friend…or you can laugh at each other’s mistakes. Hard Corps: Uprising is a fast-paced, tough-as-nails 2D side-scroller that certainly tests your skills, but rewards you with a grand sense of satisfaction upon completing each level.

6) Castlevania: Harmony of Despair

Now, this game will be questionable for many except the Castlevania fans. Castlevania: Harmony of Despair lacks a proper tutorial for any new gamer to the series and doesn’t describe how certain attributes affect your character. However, as you learn the game’s mechanics and get a solid understanding for it, you’ll be hooked. Fans of the franchise will definitely get the most out of the game. Die-hard fans will pick up on all the franchise’s characters that are usable, all with their unique abilities. While the game has numerous DLC to invest in, it’s one of the few games that actually is worth it. Hell, one of the DLC’s lets you revisit the original Castlevania on the NES, full 8-bit sprites in tact. That’s just freakin’ awesome!

5) Bionic Commando Rearmed

A remake to one of the greatest games ever made, Bionic Commando Rearmed was an excellent homage to fans of the NES classic. A remixed soundtrack that infused the 8-bit tunes with some modern beats, solid controls and physics, and clean, colorful visuals all running at 60 fps are some noteworthy elements to mention here. Aside from that, the game also includes co-op play (even though it’s local only) so you can team up with a buddy during your playthrough. GRIN also went the extra mile and added a Challenge Mode in which you can try and perfect over 50 missions included here. These missions will test even the most skilled Bionic Commando fans. Overall, this is a classic remake done right.

4) Pac-Man Championship Edition DX

Who doesn’t love Pac-Man? Easily Namco’s best rendition of the iconic character, Pac-Man Championship Edition DX provides the most intense, fastest paced version of Pac-Man ever. Thanks to the neon-lit visuals and bumpin’ club-style remixes of Pac-Man tunes that will get your blood pumping, this is one game that you’ll be coming back too time and time again!

3) Lara Croft and the Guardian of Light

I’m not going to lie here, I was incredibly skeptical when Lara Croft and the Guardian of Light was announced. The thought of the game being a top-down view just sounded a bit odd for the series. However, I couldn’t have been more wrong when I got my hands on this game. Aside from camera adjust and co-op play, this was still a Tomb Raider game at its core. Clever puzzles, creative co-op mechanics, strong audio, impressive visuals and tight controls make this a downloadable title that can’t be missed!

2) Castle Crashers

The ultimate 4 player co-op beat-em-up available on both PSN and XBLA, Castle Crashers has you venturing to rescue the four princesses from the clutches of the evil wizard. As you progress through the game’s campaign, you will be treated to a responsive and upgradable combat system, a wide variety of tunes ranging from quirky to epic, and some of the funniest humor in recent time of gaming. Come on, there’s a crap-propelled deer…enough said!

1) Outland

Housemarque’s first multiplatform title, Outland borrows a Metroidvania-style gameplay and meshes it together with Ikaruga’s polarity changing mechanics. Outland provides an unparalleled 2D platforming experience on the PSN/XBLA that I couldn’t recommend more. It’s an expertly crafted game combining terrific visuals, great soundtrack, fun co-op play, flawless gameplay mechanics and some really memorable and intense boss battles.

Have you played any of the titles mentioned above? If so, which ones were your favorites? Sound off in the comments below!

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  • Frozen

    I still remember when I got Castle Crashers… I couldn’t put it down for a month!

    • Agreed. Castle Crashers is some of the most fun I’ve had with a game this generation, especially when played with friends.

  • wxJimG

    Shadow Complex!!!

    • Shadow Complex, while an excellent game, is an XBLA exclusive, which is why it wasn’t on the list. The list is primarily made up of strictly multiplatform titles that gamers on either platform can experience.

  • heh.. just wanted to compliment you for creating a refreshingly, non-biased list of personal console favorites without dragging the reader down into another, ‘this is my system of choice and it’s better than yours’ type post. Nicely done.
    After nearly six years of both the 360 and playstation being sold at retail, there’s still far too many fanboys beating a dead horse from either side, nice to see someone like yourself claiming the middle ground.

    • Wow, thanks Mike! That’s really quite the compliment! We do our best to aim for that “middle ground” in our articles and I’m glad you saw that. Thanks again for reading the article and providing an excellent comment! 🙂

  • Rackon

    its kind of funny
    i own like half of these games 😀

  • Shadow

    I’ll tell you my personal experience of those games.

    #10: Bloodrayne:
    Bloodrayne
    is a very good game, if you like platformers. The combat system is fast
    and fancy and it really takes a lot to be really good at it. At first
    it’s pretty amazing, but after a while it’s get a little well… boring.
    The game lacks some kind of level up system that makes it unique every
    time. You keep the same moves, so after a while it’s kinda the same.
    Overall a pretty good game.
    #9: Braid:
    Amazing game. It’s a great puzzle game and every world offers a new experience. Imo the best game out of the list.
    #8: Limbo
    A
    unique game, very art-like. Also a platformer but with an interesting
    story. It is rather easy though. Although it’s great from the beginning
    till the end, it never gets hard, really.
    #7: Hard corpse: uprising:
    It’s
    a pretty decent game. At first, it is really awesome. It’s really
    challenging and it will take some time before you get past the first
    level. The upgrade system is also pretty cool in a way. You get some new
    moves that are really awesome. It offers a complete new way of playing.
    However, besides the action upgrades, the upgrades are a little too
    much. Not to mention the fact that the entire game is sort of based on
    random stuff. You can’t really walk into a room and see: oh there are
    three enemies, firing at me. No, you simply move forward and all of a
    sudden the most random objects will fly through the air and you can’t
    dodge stuff, just by thinking. Most of the time it’s just practise when
    and what the next object will do. But that doesn’t really matter. At the
    end you will have so many lives/health, you are simply unkillable. No
    matter how random the objects are they throw at you.

    Also, near
    the end of the game, the most frustrating part are the checkpoints. It
    happens quite often you die, respawn, and die again, because the
    checkpoint is somewhere in the middle of the air.

    So, because of
    the upgrades, the only hard part is the beginning. Once you’ve beaten
    the first few levels, you can’t die. So it is easy from that point on
    forward. At the end you will die a lot of times, no matter what. The
    checkpoint really messes things up.

    So: it’s a funny game but
    it’s a little too random for my taste. The upgrades are over the top,
    making it too easy and the checkpoints make the game pretty frustrating
    at times.
    #6: castlevania: downloading right now. So can’t say anything about it.
    #5: Bionic arm:
    This
    is a really awesome game. It’s a very unique because of it’s weird
    controls. I mean, how often do you play a sidescrolling platformer where
    you can’t jump? It’s very challenging, starting at hard. The downside
    is: the co op and single player have a different save file. So what you
    do with a friend, you have to do as well on your own. This makes you
    kinda have to choose. Do you finish it with a friend or on your own?
    #4: Pacman:
    I
    wasn’t too fond of this game. Sure, it looks pretty cool and the music
    is cool as well. But it’s just pacman. The changes they have made are
    rather small. Like dropping a bomb, that puts all the ghosts back in the
    box thingy. Sure, it’s usefull, but it’s pretty much the same thing
    those balls do, although you can now choose when you wan’t to use it.
    Also the levels are rather limited. 8 out of 10 maps are the same, but
    have walls at different places. The game modes are also very limited. 5
    minutes surviving, 10 minutes surviving… getting those dots as fast as
    possible. There are not so my different options. Every game you’re
    running around, chased by ghosts, eating dots and fruit. It would have
    been nice to see some different game modes. It doesn’t have a story line
    either. It’s just pacman, with a score board. So I suggest you just
    download pacman, the original game. It’s pretty much the same.
    #3: Lara croft:
    This
    is a pretty cool game. Just like tomb raider, you have to think how to
    get past obstacles. By adding a new player with different abilities, you
    really have to think how to do stuff. However, there are a few small
    things I didn’t like about this game. It’s that, some things you cannot
    do, while you should. Like how that other dude can throw spears and Lara
    can use those spears, to walk past cliffs. But when there is a small
    fence that is well… every human being can climb it, but in the game
    it’s impossible to do so. Or stuff like getting the other player to the
    other side, accidently. Without solving the entire puzzle, the other
    player can just run through the door and all of a sudden: both players
    are inside. Still, it’s a really cool game. One of the best games from
    this list.
    #2: Castle crashers: It’s a funny game. You have to look
    at the details. Like how saving a princess results in an entire making
    out session. Or how one of it’s bosses is a cat with fins, chasing you
    under water. however, it’s a pretty basic beat ’em up game. The moves
    are pretty much the same and playing a new character (and there are a
    lot) are all the same, except for it’s magic attacks which are most of
    the time just visual changes. Unless you level your magic stat, the game
    and the way you play will stay the same. Leveling your magic stat does
    offer a few unique things but is in no way game changing. Personally I’d
    say it’s pretty decent and it’s pretty big so if you want, you can play
    the game for a pretty long time. Personally, I got kind of bored after a
    while.
    #1: Outland:
    Again, a platformer. This one is really
    cool. Just like bionic commando, it’s rather unique because of the weird
    gameplay. Personally, I’d say they are kind of alike. Both are
    platformers with a unique way of playing. They are both very challenging
    and pretty long, with lots of upgrades that make the game more
    interesting and not (like hard corpse) really easier. Outland has no
    offline multiplayer, which is what made bionic arm more fun for me, but
    does have a cool art style. So, in the end, I’d say it’s almost the
    same.

    That’s just my personal opinion about these games. Now I’m
    no professional writer and I don’t think someone will actually read all
    this. But hey, you’re looking at this page, probably to look for a new
    game. So maybe this does have some value.