Holiday Buyer's Guide: Xbox Live Marketplace

Are you buried under a glut of gifted Microsoft Points (MSP) this holiday? Need some advice on how to spend them? This handy Xbox Marketplace guide is here to help, as we highlight the very best of 2010's Xbox Live Arcade games and DLC add-ons for your favorite titles.

To begin, click one of the links below to jump to a category or simply head on past the break to peruse the guide form top to bottom.

Action | Adventure & RPG | Family & Board Games

Hardcore | Limbo | Puzzle & Strategy | Retro | DLC

Click on a game title to view its Joystiq game page and see more news and information about it. The download links direct to the items' pages to queue up a trial or purchased content on your console. Additionally, we've included links to our reviews and "XBLA in Brief" video previews to help with those really tough decisions. Happy hunting!

Editor's Pick

Lara Croft and the Guardian of Light - 1200 MSP / $15 (Download)
This Tomb Raider spin-off is easily one of the best action-adventure games ever released on Xbox Live Arcade, let alone this year. As Lara Croft, shoot your way through hordes of monsters and solve some very clever puzzles on your own, or play co-op with a friend to solve completely different (and completely satisfying) puzzles. (Review)


Comic Jumper
- 1200 MSP / $15 (Download)
'Splosion Man developer Twisted Pixel returns with this campy shooter starring Captain Smiley, the obnoxious hero of an unpopular series of comics. Blast baddies and enjoy Twisted Pixel's sense of humor as Captain Smiley and his sidekick Star journey through multiple comic universes, each inspired by different styles of comic books. (Review)

Dead Rising 2: Case Zero
- 400 MSP / $5 (Download)
A downloadable prequel to Dead Rising 2, Case Zero tells the story of Chuck Greene, who must fix his motorcycle and find a way out of Still Creek, Nevada with his daughter, Katie. The only problem: Still Creek is overrun with zombies. Thankfully, the abandoned town is fully stocked with plenty of zombie-killing hardware. As a bonus, Case Zero players can transfer Chuck's experience to the retail version of Dead Rising 2. (Review)

Monday Night Combat
- 1200 MSP / $15 (Download)
The class-based shooting and the campy sports entertainment aesthetic of Monday Night Combat go together like peanut butter and bacon. Enjoy unique local or online multiplayer and co-op, and don't forget to grab the free DLC while you're at it. (Review)

Adventure & RPG
Editor's Pick

Monkey Island 2 Special Edition: LeChuck's Revenge - 800 MSP / $10 (Download)
The self-proclaimed "mighty pirate" Guybrush Threepwood is back for another adventure, retaining creator Ron Gibert's trademark humor, now featuring completely redrawn visuals and new voice overs. And it's only ten dollars! (That's way less than twenty.) (XBLA in Brief)


DeathSpank - 1200 MSP / $15 (Download)
Also from the mind of Ron Gilbert comes one of the funniest RPGs of the year, DeathSpank. As the well-intentioned but not very bright hero, DeathSpank, fight off hordes of monsters, collect tons of loot and ... rummage through dumpsters and visit the outhouse. (Review)

DeathSpank: Thongs of Virtue - 1200 MSP / $15 (Download)
When one DeathSpank wasn't enough for 2010, there was another! It's time to hunt down the Thongs of Virtue. (XBLA in Brief)

Family & Board Games
Editor's Pick

Risk: Factions - 800 MSP / $10 (Download)
Nothing brings friends together like the quest for world domination. Risk: Factions takes the classic board game and introduces new maps, rules, objectives, faster modes of play and ... cats and zombies. Classic rules are also available, for those of us with a few hours to kill. (XBLA in Brief)


Costume Quest - 1200 MSP / $15 (Download)
This lighthearted RPG from Double Fine puts players in charge of rescuing a Halloween night gone wrong. Simple turn-based combat and some funny dialogue make it fun for kids and adults alike. (Review)

Greed Corp - 800 MSP / $10 (Download)
Play as one of several factions, plunder resources and watch the world literally fall out from under the feet of your opponents. Turn-based strategy game fans should definitely take a look at this one. (XBLA in Brief)

Editor's Pick

Super Meat Boy
- 1200 MSP / $15 (Download)
There are a lot of 2D platformers on Xbox Live Arcade, but most of them won't kill you hundreds of times over the course of a single session. Super Meat Boy is absolutely ruthless, but it's also one of the most refined platformers ever created. Throw in tons of secrets, unlockables and continually updated free DLC, and the purchase is a no-brainer. (Review)


Deadliest Warrior: The Game - 800 MSP / $10 (Download)
Don't let the television show tie-in fool you, Deadliest Warrior is a serious fighting game. Rather than focusing on huge combos and air juggles, Deadliest Warrior is about distance, reaction and brutal efficiency. One missed attack or poorly timed combo and you're dead. Also, you can finally settle the age-old argument: pirate vs. viking. (Review)

Mega Man 10 - 800 MSP / $10 (Download)
The Blue Bomber returns for another retro-inspired sequel. Prepare to make dangerous jumps, destroy lots of evil robots and earn some nifty powers. Also, prepare to die. A lot. (XBLA in Brief)

Scott Pilgrim vs. The World: The Game - 800 MSP / $10 (Download)
Just like the film and comics it's based on, the Scott Pilgrim game packs in as many retro gaming references as possible, right down to the old-school graphics and chiptune soundtrack by Anamanaguchi. Coupled with classic, 4-player beat-em-up gameplay (local only), Scott Pilgrim is perfect for longtime gamers who enjoy a challenge. (Review)

Limbo - 1200 MSP / $15 (Download)
A title that's difficult to categorize, but one that must be played, Limbo combines 2D platforming, smart puzzles and beautifully disturbing imagery to tell a gripping story of childhood loss. (Review)

Puzzle & Strategy
Editor's Pick

Plants vs. Zombies
- 1200 MSP / $15 (Download)
Once again, PopCap assaults your free time, this time with a simple, addictive take on the tower defense genre. Keep waves of zombies off your lawn by planting your own garden of botanical defense. The XBLA version also adds local co-op and versus modes not found in the original PC version. (XBLA in Brief)


Chime - 400 MSP / $5 (Download)
A puzzle game that tasks players with filling as much of a grid as possible with various pieces, Chime combines classic puzzle-piece gameplay with music creation elements. As the game progresses, the player's actions build on the background music track, eventually creating a tune. (XBLA in Brief)

The Misadventures of P.B. Winterbottom
- 800 MSP / $10 (Download)
As the nefarious pie thief, P.B. Winterbottom, you must manipulate time and create clones in order to (what else?) steal pies. Logic puzzle fans should get a kick out of the unique visuals and being challenged across more than 75 levels. (XBLA in Brief)

Puzzle Quest 2 - 1200 MSP / $15 (Download)
Puzzle Quest returns, once again combining fantasy-RPG elements with addictive gem-matching gameplay. Build up your character in the single-player campaign and square off against friends in offline and online multiplayer. (DS version review)

Toy Soldiers - 1200 MSP / $15 (Download)
Toy Soldiers takes tower defense to World War I. In addition to managing defenses, players can take a direct role in combat, manning machine guns and sniper towers, or even flying planes to strafe and bomb opponents. The game also includes online and offline multiplayer. (XBLA in Brief)

Editor's Pick

Pac-Man Championship Edition DX - 800 MSP / $10 (Download)
Like the original Championship Edition, Pac-Man CE DX takes the aged Pac-Man formula and revitalizes it with what can only be described as a heavy dose of an illegal street drug. DX adds several zany modes, graphical styles and music tracks to the mix, along with new sleeping ghosts that only follow Pac-Man once he awakens them. Trust us, you haven't lived until you've eaten your first ghost train. (XBLA in Brief)


Earthworm Jim HD - 800 MSP / $10 (Download)
One of the 16-bit era's most beloved (and most difficult) platformers returns with updated graphics, new levels and cooperative play. Old-timers can revisit their childhoods while simultaneously schooling the new generation to how it used to be. That submarine level? Yep, still hard. (XBLA in Brief)

Final Fight: Double Impact
- 800 MSP / $10 (Download)
This twofer packs Final Fight and Magic Sword, two Capcom arcade classics, into one slick package. Each game includes several different visual settings -- including HD and old-school pixelation -- along with both original and remixed music. Each game also includes special in-game challenges and unlockable bonus material. Online and offline co-op is also included. (XBLA in Brief)

Rocket Knight
- 1200 MSP / $15 (Download)
A new entry in the series that thrived way back on the Sega Genesis, Rocket Knight puts you in the armor-plated shoes of Sparkster, a possum knight with a jetpack. Using his trusty sword and the jetpack, traverse 2D landscapes and take down the evil General Sweinhart. Yeah, pretty much all 16-bit games used to be like this. (XBLA in Brief)

Game Add-ons (DLC)
Sure, there are lots of great games on Xbox Live Arcade, but don't forget about that stack of games you already have! Use those holiday points to stock up on choice add-ons for your favorites:

Alan Wake - 2 add-ons | Best Bet: The Writer - 560 MSP / $7 (Download)
New copies of Alan Wake include a free download of the first DLC, "The Signal," so be sure to pick up "The Writer" to complete the story. (Review)

BioShock 2 - 6 add-ons | Best Bet: Minerva's Den - 800 MSP / $10 (Download)
Journey into Rapture's computer core to retrieve The Thinker, the city's computer brain. And don't forget to play a round of Spitfire. (Review)

Borderlands - 4 add-ons | Best Bet: The Zombie Island of Dr. Ned - 800 MSP / $10 (Download)
Explore the town of Jakobs Cove, find new loot and embark on new quests. Oh, and kill zombies, of course.

Dragon Age: Origins - 11 add-ons | Best Bet: Witch Hunt - 560 MSP / $7 (Download)
Reconnect with Morrigan and discover what the naughty witch has been up to. (Review)

Enslaved: Odyssey to the West - 1 add-on | Only Bet: Pigsy's Perfect 10 - 800 MSP / $10 (Download)
Play as Pigsy in his quest to build the perfect woman in this prequel chapter to Enslaved.

Halo: Reach - 1 add-on | Only Bet: Noble Map Pack - 800 MSP / $10 (Download)
If you're going to play Reach online -- and you will -- you'll want to grab the Noble maps.

Left 4 Dead 2 - 2 add-ons | Best Bet: The Passing - 560 MSP / $7 (Download)
Meet up with the survivors from the original Left 4 Dead. Oh, and kill lots of zombies, of course.

Mass Effect 2 - 9 add-ons | Best Bet: Lair of the Shadow Broker - 800 MSP / $10 (Download)
Meet up with Commander Sheperd's old friend (and possible lover, depending on how you played the first game) and take on the mysterious and powerful Shadow Broker. (Review)

Red Dead Redemption - 6 add-ons | Best Bet: Undead Nightmare Coll. - 1600 MSP / $20 (Download)
This collection bundles the -- yeah, it's another zombie apocalypse but it's -- exceptional "Undead Nightmare" DLC campaign and mulitplayer modes with the "Liars and Cheats" and "Legends and Killers" packs, and for $10 in savings (compared to the three add-ons priced individually). (Review)

Rock Band 3 - 1,999 add-ons (!) | Best Bet: Imagine - 1200 MSP / $15 (Download)
The remaining nine songs of John Lennon's classic album join the title track, which is already available on the Rock Band 3 disc, and are formatted to support new gameplay features, including keys and harmonies.

Split/Second - 9 add-ons | Best Bet: Onslaught Pack - 800 MSP / $10 (Download)
This pack adds the Quarry track, as well as the Onslaught Mode, which introduces an attack chopper that fires missiles at the race course!

Xbox Live Indie Games
Got some spare change leftover? Why not put it towards some Xbox Live Indie Games? They're cheap, fun and cheap. You'll find some of the best titles in the "Winter Uprising" promotion, including ZP2KX from Ska Studios, developer of The Dishwasher: Dead Samurai. Indie Games run from 80–400 MSP ($1–5), so they can be a perfect use for your remaining points.

This article was originally published on Joystiq.