2010 has seen its fair share of trials and tribulations for the burgeoning Xbox Live Indie scene, but it's been an incredible year nonetheless. Rather than just a pointless little diversion, Xbox Live Indie Games have demonstrated their worth as a genuine unique selling point for the Xbox 360 with a constant stream of fantastic quality titles at bargain basement prices. Quite frankly, they're a reason to buy a 360 in the first place!
So, for your delectation, here are the ten best Xbox Live Indie Games of 2010. Click the banners to try out the trial versions- and hopefully spend a few points! Each and every game on this list is worthy of your time, money and respect.
- Developer: Denki
Playing Juggle is like discovering a lost arcade machine. Denki have spared no expense at making it an authentic retro experience, playing much like a fast-paced hybrid of pong and breakout. It's immediately accessible and exceptionally good fun to play... and as an added bonus, the developers are willing to donate the entire cost of the game to charity if you ask them to. A class act and a classy game to kick off the list!
- Developer: Copenhagen Games Collective
B.U.T.T.O.N. defies description...and belief. It's one of the best party games ever made, challenging players to engage in hilarious physical activities and brutally unfair tactics in order to dominate their opponents. It's ridiculous, raucous and completely breaks the fourth wall at every opportunity. You won't have played anything like this. Ever.
8: Breath Of Death VII
- Developer: Zeboyd
Breath of Death VII is a traditional 8-bit RPG that pays a witty and hilarious homage to the original NES final fantasy games. Taking on the role of an undead superhero, you’ll quest, level up and dungeon crawl through hours of enjoyable dungeons that both mocks and emulates the classic RPGs of yore. The recently-released Cthulhu Saves The World is arguably a better game, but for setting the trend and laying the groundwork, Breath of Death VII deserves its place on the list.
7: Steam Heroes
- Developer: Projector/Tiamat Games
Steam Heroes gleefully plunders the familiar match-3 mechanics that we know and love, using them as an innovative combat system in a lusciously-presented storyline. The puzzle mechanics are frantic and frenzied, but tempered perfectly by standout art design and crisp visuals that provide a genuine retinal treat. Gives even Puzzle Quest a run for its money at a fraction of the cost!
6: Panic Attack: The Devil's Favourite Game
- Developer: DeRail Games
One of the most common complaints amongst industry veterans these days is that games are "getting easier"- so lucky Panic Attack is here to kick your ass and merrily brutalise you even as you yelp for more. It's a pixel-perfect platformer with silky smooth mechanics and an impeccable retro presentation (along with a professional chiptune soundtrack) that will reward your perseverance with a heady dose of adrenaline and endorphins. Go buy it... or are you chicken?
5: Hypership Out Of Control
- Developer: Fun Infused Games
Hypership Out Of Control is a simple concept that's been perfectly executed. Scrolling SHMUPS are ten a penny on the Indie service, but Fun Infused Games have absolutely nailed the fundamentals. Responsive movements, endearing retro graphics, a charming presentation and 4-player single screen play make for an unforgettable experience that's fun in short doses or marathon sessions with a few mates. The recent upgrade brings even more features to the table, further sweetening the deal.
4: Radiangames Fluid
- Developer: Radiangames
Every single one of Luke Schneider's epic offerings were contenders for a place on this list- but Fluid edges out the competition by taking the twinstick in an exciting new direction. It's half arcade drift-heavy racer and half puzzler; brought together into a jawdroppingly beautiful package thanks to some luscious visuals. Constantly attacking the leaderboards for the best times is furiously addictive- and you'll have trouble putting this one down.
- Developer: Haiku Interactive
At first glance, you'd mistake Avaglide for an incredibly polished Wii title. The beautiful graphics compliment a staggeringly polished arcade hangliding sim with impeccable physics and great handling- boasting fun multiplayer that rivals any minigame collection out there. Avaglide hits the sweet spot between being accessible and authentic, and you'll be surprised how often you bust out this cracking little title for a few minutes of airborne shenanigans.
And there's no getting over those graphics. Wow.
- Developer: Mommy's Best Games
Mommy's Best Games are the heavy hitters on Xbox Live, with veteran weapons designer Nathan Fouts crafting hit after disgusting alien-slaughtering hit. We originally expected Explosionade to be a cheap and cheerful throwaway tie-in to tide us over until the anticipated Grapple Buggy makes its debut, but we're delighted to report that it's one of the finest Indie games on the service.
If you're looking for alien-stomping, grenade-lobbing, shield-bouncing, mech-crushing fun, you simply can't go wrong with Explosionade. Not to mention that its numerous levels provide an insane amount of value. Outstanding.
1: Space Pirates From Tomorrow
- Developer: MStar Games
Big ideas don't tend to sell very well on XBLIG... but game ideas don't get any bigger than Space Pirates From Tomorrow. It's Elite for a new generation: an entire galaxy to explore, trade and dogfight your way through in an effort to get rich quick and crush your rivals. In an age where space sims are few and far between, MStar gave us exactly what we wanted.
In many ways, SPfT was too big for the service. You won't see it on any best selling lists... but as an important precedent with bags of polish, this brave space sim deserves its place at the top of the list. It's the best that 2010 had to offer.
2010 brought us countless excellent Indie gems- and I wish that we had space to list them all. Want to give a shout out to your favourite Xbox Live Indie games? Drop us a line in the comments!