Buyer's Guide: Xbox Live Marketplace

So, what to spend your Microsoft Points on? The choice can be quite daunting. After all, there's a lot of content on Xbox Live Marketplace.

With this handy guide, we give you some solid suggestions to spend your points on based on several categories and include everything from Xbox Live Arcade games to Indie Games to Avatar props. Just select from your favorite genres below. (Joytip: Click on a game title to see its Xbox.com listing; and check out our links to reviews and XBLA in Brief videos to help make crucial purchasing decisions.)


Action


Editor's Pick


'Splosion Man 800 / $10 (Review; XBLA in Brief)
Platform games don't get much faster, more frantic or funnier than 'Splosion Man. Race through 50 single-player levels or play through 50 levels with up to four players. 'Splosion Man requires good platforming skills, precision timing and quick thinking.


More Recommendations

Shadow Complex 1200 / $15 (Review; XBLA in Brief)
Shadow Complex takes the formula set forth by classics like Metroid and Castlevania and refines it for latest generation of consoles. Explore a huge game world, upgrade your gear and take on huge bosses in one of the best looking games on Xbox Live Arcade. [Joytip: The game's on sale for only 800 ($10) the week of December 21 for Xbox Live Gold members.]

Battlefield 1943 1200 / $15 (XBLA in Brief)
You don't have to spend $60 to get an authentic multiplayer first-person shooter. Using the same engine that powered Battlefield: Bad Company, Battlefield 1943 packs a comparable amount of multiplayer gameplay to many popular retail shooters. If you enjoy class-based FPSs, you really can't go wrong with Battlefield 1943. [Joytip: Xbox Live Gold required to play.]

N+ 800 / $10
N+ is a very simple game. All you have to do is run and jump your way to the level exit. Of course, there are tons of traps, pitfalls and missile turrets between you and that exit. With over 400 levels and multiplayer support for up to four players, the simple but challenging gameplay of N+ is a rare treat.


Braid


Braid 1200 / $15 (XBLA in Brief)
Quite simply, Braid is a difficult game to categorize. It's a platformer, a logic puzzle game and at times even feels like an action game. The only downloadable game to land on Joystiq's Best of 2008 list, Braid is an excellent choice for anyone looking for something different and challenging. The puzzles are unique and produce some of the best "aha!" moments to be found on XBLA. If you haven't already, try Braid.


Family & Board Games


Editor's Pick

Carcasonne 800 / $10
One of the simplest and most charming board games on Xbox Live Arcade, Carcassonne has players placing tiles to build castles, roads and farms to see who winds up owning the biggest chunk of the kingdom. It's easy to play, looks great and supports four players on a single TV and five over Xbox Live.


More Recommendations

UNO Rush 800 / $10 (XBLA in Brief)
A high-speed version of the classic UNO card game, UNO Rush requires you to rearrange your hand on the fly. Once it's your turn, all cards that can be played will be played. You only have a few seconds to arrange your hand though, so be quick. UNO Rush supports four players on one TV or online.

A Kingdom for Keflings 800 / $10 (XBLA in Brief)
Easily one of the most relaxing titles on Xbox Live Arcade, A Kingdom for Keflings has players building -- you guessed it -- a kingdom for tiny people, called Keflings. Over time, you build more and more complex structures. There is no player punishment, instead the challenge is derived solely from optimizing time and economy management. The game only supports one player locally, but the family can help with city planning. A Kingdom for Keflings supports four players over Xbox Live.

Bubble Bobble Neo 800 / $10 (XBLA in Brief)
A remake of the classic arcade game, Bubble Bobble Neo lets up to four players trap enemies in bubbles, collect power-ups and fight over who gets the most points. Best of all, the game only uses two buttons.


Hardcore


Editor's Pick

The Dishwasher: Dead Samurai
800 / $10 (XBLA in Brief)
XBLA games don't get much more difficult than The Dishwasher: Dead Samurai. Even the easy difficulty has received some complaints. Suffice it to say, if you like punishing action games in the vein of Ninja Gaiden, there's plenty to like.


More Recommendations

Alien Hominid HD 800 / $10
Another incredibly difficult game, Alien Hominid HD brings back the tough-as-nails gameplay originally perfected by 2D shooters of yore. What's that, and enemy bullet grazed your toe? Yeah, you're dead. If the game weren't so fun and beautifully drawn, the difficulty might be a problem.

Mega Man 9 800 / $10 (XBLA in Brief)
Mega Man 9 is the latest sequel in the long running series. Crafted in the style of the original 8-bit games, Mega Man 9 brings the same formula -- including very difficult platforming and boss fights -- to a new generation.

Ikaruga 800 / $10 (XBLA in Brief)
Remember what we said about XBLA games not getting more difficult than Dishwasher? This one does. A top-down 2D shmup (shoot 'em up), Ikaruga practically defines the term "Bullet Hell."


Party


Editor's Pick

Castle Crashers 1200 / $15 (XBLA in Brief)
Got an Xbox 360? Got three friends that like to play games? You need Castle Crashers. Online or off, Castle Crashers brings the 2D beat 'em ups of the 90s into the new generation. A huge campaign, an RPG upgrade system, tons of unlockable characters and weaponry, and some incredible hand-drawn graphics make for one great game.


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Worms 2: Armageddon 800 / $10 (XBLA in Brief)
Armageddon adds many of the fan-favorite features and weapons that were missing from the original XBLA version of Worms. This sequel features superior controls, online and offline play for four players and, of course, lots of annelid destruction.

TMNT 1989 400 / $5
Yup, it's the original Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles arcade game. It's only $5. It supports four players online and off.

Bomberman Live
800 / $10 (Review)
Back before there were party games, Bomberman emerged to define the term. If you need a fun game to play with a large group (four offline or eight online), then Bomberman Live will easily fit the bill. It's also great for casual gamers.


Puzzle


Editor's Pick


Peggle 800 / $10 (XBLA in Brief)
Simply put, if you like puzzle games even a little bit, you need Peggle. It's easily one of the most addictive games on the planet and it features tons of content, including a single-player campaign, lots of challenges and multiplayer. It's also easy enough that anyone can enjoy it.


More Recommendations

Puzzle Quest 800 / $10
Puzzle Quest takes the classic gameplay of Bejeweled and layers on an intricate battle system in the style of fantasy role-playing games. Players travel around the game world, meet new characters and collect new equipment to help improve their skills in puzzle combat. The game also features multiplayer for 2 players.

Super Puzzle Fighter II Turbo HD Remix 800 / $10 (Review)
The classic coin-op puzzle game remade for Xbox Live Arcade. Featuring characters from popular Capcom fighting games, Puzzle Fighter has players fighting not with punches and kicks, but with colored gems. Combine colors together, and then destroy them all, to send a wave of gems to your opponent. Easily one of the best puzzle games ever made.


Retro


Editor's pick

Bionic Commando Rearmed 800 / $10 (XBLA in Brief)
If you're planning to remake a classic game for a new generation console, Bionic Commando Rearmed is the game to beat. The game strikes the perfect balance of honoring the original game, while still adding new graphics and gameplay-expanding features. If you liked the original, you will love Rearmed. If you like action games at all, definitely give it a try.


More Recommendations
Pac-Man Championship Edition
800 / $10
If you've ever enjoyed Pac-Man, even a little bit, you need Pac-Man Championship Edition. A brilliant reinvention of a coin-op legend.

Space Invaders Extreme 800 / $10
The original arcade game given a graphical makeover, new power-ups and a techno twist.

Galaga Legions 800 / $10 (XBLA in Brief)
Take the original Galaga, add some better graphics and modern gameplay, and you have Galaga Legions. An excellent game for classic shooter fans.


Shooters


Editor's Pick

Geometry Wars 2 800 / $10 (XBLA in Brief)
Geometry Wars 2 is a must-own game for any shooter fan. It takes the classic twin-stick shooting formula of Robotron and Smash TV and tosses in incredible graphics, multiple game modes and multiplayer for up to four players. Once again: Must own.


More Recommendations

Rez HD 800 / $10
This on-rails shooter combines retro visuals and techno beats to create brilliant fusion of music and gameplay. The game actually builds the music for the level in time with player attacks, making for one of the most unique gaming experiences out there. The better you play, the better it looks and sounds.

Aegis Wing FREE
Okay, so you don't actually have to spend any money on this. It's a side-scrolling space shooter that gets better the more players you have. See, Aegis Wing lets players combine their ships together to improve their firepower, while sacrificing mobility. It's a great game and it's free, so you can't really go wrong.

Assault Heroes 2
800 / $10 (XBLA in Brief)
Hearkening back to the days when arcades were filled with shooters like Ikari Warriors, Assault Heroes 2 charges up to two players with destroying an entire army using some highly sophisticated tanks. Don't get too cocky though. If you're tank gets blown up, you'll have to survive on foot until a new one shows up. You can also abandon your tank for on-foot missions and other temporary vehicles.


Spare Change


After buying up some XBLA games, you're bound to have some leftover Microsoft points. Why not spend them on some cheap Indie Games? Here's a few of the better ones out there:
  • Jump! 240 / $3 -- All you have to do is jump and defuse the bombs. Easier than it sounds.
  • I MAED A GAM3 W1TH Z0MB1ES!!!1 80 / $1 -- Without a doubt, this game has the best theme song in existence. And it's just a dollar.
  • Miner Dig Deep 80 / $1 -- How deep can you dig into the mine? Gather resources, upgrade your equipment, and see how low you can go.
  • Beat Hazard 400 / $5 -- This twin-stick shooter takes your own music from the Xbox 360 hard drive and uses it to generate waves of enemies to the beat. Don't worry, it comes with some sweet beats of its own, too.
  • The Impossible Game 80 / $1 -- All you have to do is press 'A' to jump over obstacles. Sound easy? Yeah, well, it isn't.
If you've managed to go through this whole guide and you still have points left, you might as well get your Avatar a lightsaber. It'll cost you 400 ($5) and proves that you have money to burn.

This article was originally published on Joystiq.