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Four great downloadable games for Xbox Live

Some of the downloadable games on Xbox Live are real gems. Many are cheaper (and shorter) than their console cousins, but they often give you the same thrilling gameplay. In some cases, the play is even better.


Bastion reminds me of Mario because the characters are so darn lovable. There are lots of upgradeable weapons like those in Ratchet & Clank. The science-fiction story never lets up on adventure. And the dialog is full of a comicbook humor that just might make you laugh out loud.

Microsoft for Xbox Live Arcade
Rated E10+ for Everyone 10 and Older

Gameplay: 9.0
Graphics: 8.7
Sound: 8.6
Replay Value: 8.5
Overall Score: 9.0

Pros: Great comic book feel; inspired use of game design; excellent, moving story

Cons: Could use more online play; ending feels abrupt; great music, but repetitive

Early on, your weapons don’t do much. But by the time you’re halfway through the game, the things they do will make you go, “Wow!”

As The Kid, you’re a strong, silent hero. Your world needs help badly because a mysterious disaster called The Calamity has ravaged the world. It’s now populated by monsters with stealthy powers, like a strange gator that attacks you from underground. Your guide to unraveling the mystery is Rucks, who adds wit and warnings as you journey. Even in your darkest moments, he believes in you. In his deep, powerful voice, he says, “You ain’t in this alone. That’s a promise.”

What a great gaming experience Bastion is.


Fruit Ninja Kinect is one of those games that’s easy to play but hard to master. It’s done so well, you don’t even need instructions or tutorials. Your instincts tell you that all you need is arms that hack and slash.

Microsoft for Xbox Live Arcade

Gameplay: 9.0
Graphics: 8.5
Sound: 8.0
Replay Value: 9.5
Overall Score: 9.0

Pros: Fun, easy play; lots of modes; truly fun facts

Cons: No online multiplayer; upgrades cost money; sounds could be better

All kinds of fruit are tossed up into the air, and it’s up to you to cut them. When they’re sliced, they make a satisfying cutting sound, something between a slurp and a smash. And you earn points as you go. Watch out for cannonballs. Hit one and your game is over. But avoiding them without missing a chop of the fruit will allow you to rack up a high score, which you can post online.

There are bonuses, too. At one point, I got to chop one piece of fruit 33 times to add extra points. After the game is done, you even get a fun fact about fruit. Did you know that some pear trees can grow in -40 degree temperatures?

Maybe it’s just that the idea of mixing a powerful ninja with fruit is funny. But I found that playing with a friend is really amusing to the point of laughing crazily. Just don’t chop too hard in case someone gets in the way!

Unfortunately, they’re charging Xbox Live points for upgrades to your ninja sword. They should be free. But you don’t need no stinkin’ upgrade to love this fun game. It really is a step forward for Kinect.


I’m not sure how to describe the look of this game. If I said the world was often black and white, you’d think it’s boring. Well, it’s black and white but often really exciting.

Microsoft for Xbox Live Arcade

Gameplay: 8.5
Graphics: 8.5
Sound: 7.0
Replay Value: 8.0
Overall Score: 8.2

Pros: Pilot a flying saucer; mysterious artwork; lots of powerups

Cons: Can feel repetitive; could use a better tutorial; story needs fleshing out

The short intro has no dialog. But, to the tune of Star Wars-like dramatic music, you see a small, evil alien at a control panel. He’s changing a world full of brilliant color into one full of shadows and strange beasts and poisonous plants. And, lucky you – you’re dumped into this weird world.

You start out with a lowly flying saucer. But as you move through the nooks and crannies of the levels, your vehicle becomes bigger and stronger. And you get useful tools, like laser rays and a device that helps you move rocks. Plants bite or use tentacles to grab at you. Giant spiders try to stomp on you.

But don’t go too fast through these dark caves in an effort to escape. You might miss a cool upgrade hidden in the crevices or caves. If you do miss it, you can come back later. Just call up a map and check out the areas where you haven’t been.

As you move through the many environments, you’ll notice the game feels a little repetitive. But the whole idea of exploring the world in your own flying saucer is really engrossing in a Metroid kind of way. And the art style is so unique, it feels like a whole new world of scifi magic.


It’s a little like the Pikmin series, except with a twist. In From Dust, you take control of a tribe that lives during a time when odd, dinosaur-like beasts roamed the world with humans. Your goal is to create a village oasis for the tribe, no small feat in a world full of natural disasters and crazy-large animals.

Microsoft for Xbox Live Arcade
Rated E10+ for Everyone 10 and Older

Gameplay: 7.5
Graphics: 8.8
Sound: 7.5
Replay Value: 7.7
Overall Score: 7.7

Pros: Create your own civilization; timed missions; beautiful artwork

Cons: Way too hard in many places; can’t opt out of timed missions; repetitive

To help your tribe survive, you can manipulate soil and sand to make dunes, mountains and hills. It’s a lot more fun, though, to take a big batch of steaming lava and move it to where there’s too much water. And you can move what amounts to a small plane full of water to where it’s needed (often near fire-breathing plants).

The lush world you make is often beautiful and so is the background music. But, whoa, if you don’t make a village or two and get to the end of a level in time, something like a tsunami roars in to take down the village you just created.

From Dust could have been an outstanding game. But the game makers made this one too hard!

14 Comments on Four great downloadable games for Xbox Live

  1. You can also get Bastion for your iPhone, iPod Touch, or iPad for about 5 bucks.

  2. I think every single one should say Minecraft.

  3. I like PS3 better. And where’s castle crashers? Castle crashers is better.

  4. Fruit ninja is awesome i wish it was for 3ds

  5. awssome pants // November 12, 2011 at 3:43 pm // Reply

    What about Limbo?

  6. awssome pants // October 22, 2011 at 1:09 pm // Reply

    Awsome list! execpt for Fruit Ninja.

  7. i would also suggest a game called rock of ages my favorite game right now:)

  8. wheres burnout crash/

  9. Fortress Craft Chapter 1 BEST game you can Build ANYTHING you want and its only 200 microsoft points

  10. me neither

  11. You should make one about the downloadable games for the Wii (Wiiware, virtual console.).

  12. don’t have xbox live

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