Indie gaming is hard to keep track of these days. When I think back to my own experience, this time last year I had never really dabbled into the indie gaming scene, and after being thrown in at the deep end, I soon delved beneath the surface to find some truly outstanding games.
So I thought it would be great if I could share some of my favourite experiences for each platform. Considering Australia doesn't have access to the Xbox Live Indie Games section, some of these have bigger publishers, but are still unmissable for any Xbox 360 owner.
So here's 10 Essential Xbox Live Arcade titles for you to grab today!
It may have taken a few extra years then expected, but Fez from Polytron has finally graced the Xbox 360. This blend of 2D and 3D retro platforming, complete with sprites, chip-tunes, amazing atmosphere and addictive gameplay will surely get the juices pumping. A sublime experience that is the perfect blend of old and new, this will surely appeal to the gamers of yesteryear.
What could be considered the first "real" game on Xbox Live Arcade, Shadow Complex utilises the Unreal 3 Engine to bring gamers a hardcore side-scrolling experience. One part Metroid, one part Contra and a dash of awesome makes this a shooter not to be missed. It may be a few years old now, but it is well and truly worth a look.
The Dishwasher: Dead Samurai
When a game was conceptualised by the creator who dreaming of Bruce Lee being a dishwasher who mercilessly slaughtered piles of extremely well trained evil minions, you know something special is waiting. The Dishwasher: Dead Samurai was the first winner of the Microsoft Dream-Build-Play contest, which netted the created $10,000 and a publishing contract. If you love side-scrolling beat-em-ups then you need look no further than this blood soaked tale.
Motorbikes + insane environments + impossible amounts of pain = Trials: Evolution. Crashing a bike has never been this much fun, particularly with the insane multiplayer, circus challenge arenas and the fact that you can ride a bike across the most insane terrain ever. It's social, it's challenging, but most of all, it's fun.
Alan Wake's American Nightmare
Fans of the original
Alan Wake will find things are a little different this time around, and newcomers will be eased in with a more action packed look at everyone's favourite author. Alan Wake's American Nightmare puts the focus on action, providing a fantastic arsenal of weapons and a challenging arcade mode to keep things flowing. There is a great story to be found in here also, which means players will get more than they bargained for with this release.
Who would have thought Russian nesting dolls would be so much fun? The creative minds at Double Fine Productions saw the value in these wooden dolls, releasing one of the most unique and genuinely funny games on Xbox Live Arcade. Stacking tells the tale of little Charlie Blackmore who is searching for his family who have been put into slave labour by the evil baron. It may sound rather serious, but inside you'll find comedic gold that will make you feel warm and fuzzy.
Hand-drawn to perfection, Supergiant Games' excellent Bastion is one to watch out for. Featuring a gripping tale of "The Kid" after a horrible event that destroyed the world, fantastic gameplay and a memorable narrator keeps the story interesting until the very end. With collectibles to keep you going, you'll definitely get bang for your buck with subsequent playthroughs.
The game that truly brought indie console gaiming to the mainstream, Jonathan Blow's Braid
is a must have experience for the Xbox 360. Telling a story of Tim who is off to save the princess, Braid melds time-travelling mechanics in with traditional platforming to create an unforgettable experience. Well worth checking out.
Braid may have started the indie console gaming experience, but Limbo perfected it. This chilling platformer throws the gamer into a dark and unforgiving place, searching for their sister who has been missing for quite sometime. The plot of the game is largely open for debate; some theories say that the protagonist is dead, and is stuck in purgatory. Others say that it is the boy trying to deal with the grief of his sister dying. Regardless, Limbo offers up an unforgettable experience that will linger with you long after the final puzzle.
Fruit Ninja Kinect
It may be huge on iOS, but Australian indie studio Halfbrick have outdone themselves with Fruit Ninja Kinect. One of the few Kinect games out there to make sense and add to the experience, this title will have you slicing and dicing your way onto Master Chef in no time!
By Stephen Heller - Tweet @Heller_MMGN