In the past, the PlayStation Network has delivered some of the most stylish and innovative downloadable games to the PlayStation 3 and 2009 was no exception. The service saw a number of excellent, high profile releases in what very well may be looked back upon as its breakout year. 2009 also saw the rapid expansion of PlayStation Home, including an MMO-like combat experience called Sodium One. Read More...
1. Shatter (Sidhe - $6.99 - ESRB: E) - There have been countless clones of Breakout since it was released in 1976 and not a single one of them has been better than Shatter.
This brick-breaking action game stands out from the pack thanks to a lengthy adventure mode, an excellent soundtrack and an innovative suck and blow mechanic that all but removes the age old frustration of trying destroy that one last brick on a level. Read our review…
2. Flower (thatgamecompany - $9.99 - ESRB: E) - Few games have made me feel as much as Flower did. It is a short, but truly unique experience that anyone who is capable should try to have for themselves.
You start the game controlling the wind behind a single flower petal. As you journey across wide open fields towards an industrialized city, you will encounter themes and emotions like environmentalism, isolation, fear, sadness and joy. I actually experienced synaesthesia while playing Flower and smelled burning when I ran into a certain obstacle.
3. Critter Crunch (Capybara Games Inc - $9.99 - ESRB: E) - I would argue that there are more puzzle games released every year than any other genre, all of them trying to become the next Tetris, Peggle or Lumines.
A long adventure mode filled with variety and hand-drawn graphics helped to elevate Critter Crunch to the top of our 2009 puzzle game list. A truly unique mechanic involving food chains and barfing is both fresh and fun and kept us playing for hours.
4. PixelJunk Shooter (Q-Games- $9.99 - ESRB: E10) - The fourth game in the PixelJunk series is a bit of a misnomer. While it is true that there is quite a bit of shooting involved, this game is more about exploration and light puzzle-solving than anything else.
You must navigate your ship through cavernous stages while attempting to rescue workers who have been trapped below the surface. Along the way you will encounter a number of fun mechanics that will require you to balance hot and cold or liquid and solid materials. You will also be treated to an appropriately moody soundtrack from High Frequency Bandwidth as you play.
5. Trine (Frozenbyte, Inc. - $19.99 - ESRB: E10) - Trine probably would have been higher on our list had it not suffered from performance issues. However, this is a great-looking action-adventure game that requires you to solve environmental puzzles using three very different characters.
The thief can swing using a grappling hook and attack enemies at a distance using a bow. The wizard is almost helpless in combat, but can create objects like boxes and platforms to help navigate levels. The warrior is all about brute strength and melee combat. Trine features a fully-voiced story and is well worth the above-average cost.
6. Gravity Crash (Just Add Water Developments, Ltd. - $9.99 - ESRB: E) - This game will undoubtedly be compared with PixelJunk Shooter for years to come because they share the same sort of aesthetic. The truth is, however that the two games are very different and Gravity Crash is a much tougher game that has more in common with Lunar Lander than its PSN counterpart.
Players must balance thrust, attack and resource management while attempting to navigate levels and complete goals like gathering a certain number of crystals. Gravity Crash has a wonderfully retro soundtrack that sounds like it was made on an old Amiga computer and the visuals should be appealing to Geometry Wars fans.
7. Cuboid (TikGames - $9.99 - ESRB: E) - Early in the year we were greeted with a unique, mind-bending puzzle game in Cuboid. This game rewards, and later requires, spatial awareness and the ability to think five steps ahead.
Players navigate the Cuboid (which is actually two attached cubes) through levels by flipping it, either from end to end or on its side. Bridges, teleporters, trap doors and switches will keep you on your toes throughout more than 60 levels of challenging fun.
8. Trash Panic (SCE Studios Japan - $4.99 - ESRB: E) - This falling object puzzle game is very quirky and features an environmental theme that tasks you with disposing of a set amount of real-world trash like broomsticks and microwave ovens.
You are asked to reduce the volume of trash as much as possible by smashing objects into each other. Harder objects like metal easily smash those made of wood and flammable objects can help you burn off trash, but will release harmful emissions and detract from your final score.