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The FWD Download: Top 20 Console Games of 2010

Game Forward Logo2010 was relatively quiet in terms of the number of  “must-have” downloadable games on PlayStation Network, Xbox LIVE Arcade and WiiWare. However, we did see more ambitious, larger-scale games take hold in the downloadable space and see both critical and commercial success.

Game Forward has selected 20 of our favourite downloadable games released for consoles in 2010 that we feel are worth your time and money. Some are exclusives, some are multiplatform releases (including PC and/or Mac) and the games in this list represent a wide variety of genres. Read More…

1. Lara Croft and the Guardian of Light - This isometric action-adventure featured a lengthy campaign with high replay value, a precise and fluid control scheme and excellent co-op play. This is not only one of the best downloadable games I have played, but one of the best games to ever star everyone’s favourite raider of tombs. (REVIEW) (XBLA, PSN, PC, iOS - $15)

Lara Croft and the Guardian of Light Screenshot

2. Dead Rising 2: Case Zero - This demo-cum-prequel introduced players to new series protagonist Chuck Green and reassured fans that almost everything they loved about the first game was intact and the tense, time-constrained gameplay experience had not been watered down. (REVIEW) (XBLA - $5)

3. Joe Danger - An old-school, Excitebike-style racer with tons of charm, Joe Danger boasted a lengthy and challenging career mode, fun trick system, a great physics engine and local multiplayer. The game provided simple, arcade-style fun and lots of it; which is what made it stand out. (PSN - $15)

4. Pac-Man Championship Edition DX - Somehow, the team at Namco not only improved on the 2007 original--widely regarded as a classic re-imagining of the franchise--but they managed to make it feel obsolete thanks to an all-new, over-the top “ghost train” mechanic. (XBLA, PSN - $10)

5. Tumble - One of the titles available at the launch of the PlayStation Move Motion Controller system, Tumble is a physics-based stacking game that captured the child-like fun of playing with blocks and showcased the extreme precision afforded by the camera and controller system. (PSN, Move Required - $10)

Tumble Required a Steady Hand

6. Super Meat Boy - This tough-as-nails 2D platformer featured an abundance of content, challenging and rewarding level design and excellent control. Super Meat Boy also features the ability to play as other indie game characters like CommanderVideo from the Bit.Trip series and Tim from Braid. (XBLA, PC, Mac - $15)

7. Fluidity - Part Metroid, part LocoRoco, this unique, tilt-based platforming adventure games saw you controlling a mass of water and cleaning up an in-soaked book by solving environmental puzzles. A great look and convincing physics helped Fluidity shine. (WiiWare - $12)

8. The Misadventures of P.B. Winterbottom - An early 2010 release, this time and space-bending puzzle-platformer featured a wonderfully-realised 1900s silent movie aesthetic and some challenging, action-packed puzzles. (XBLA, PC - $10)

9. Bit.Trip Runner - The fourth entry in the retro Bit.Trip series saw CommanderVideo running, jumping, kicking and sliding through obstacle courses to chiptune beats by Anamanaguchi and offered more than 50 challenging levels to master. (WiiWare - $8)

10. Auditorium HD - More of a toy than a proper game, this relaxing, PlayStation Move-enabled port of a highly-regarded Flash game asked you to direct the flow of sound using an intuitive control scheme and gameplay mechanism. (PSN, Move Compatible - $10)

11. Toy Soldiers - Tower defense met first-person shooter in this wonderfully-styled offering. Players not only had to strategically place units, but could manually operate gun turrets, tanks and planes to stop the relentless onslaught of enemy soldiers towards your toy box. (XBLA - $15)

Toy Soldiers Looked Amazing

12. Art Style: light trax - This updated version of a Gameboy Advance line-racing game featured a unique style of racing that shifts between 2D and 3D perspectives and a minimalist, retro-inspired look and soundtrack. (WiiWare - $10)

13. Snoopy: Flying Ace - This lighthearted flight combat simulator had all the charm of the Peanuts universe intact. Along with customizable planes, it featured a sizable campaign that could be played solo or co-operatively, both locally and over Xbox LIVE and a host of multiplayer match types. (XBLA - $10)

14. Dead Nation - This dual-stick shooter that sprawls across labyrinthine cityscapes during a zombie outbreak featured a satisfying arsenal of weapons, co-op play and a truly unique leaderboard system that ranks your countries contributions to eradicating the undead. (PSN - $15)

15. Limbo - This 2D side-scrolling puzzle-platformer put you in the role of a boy that enters the fabled space between Heaven and Hell in search of his sister. In order to discover her fate, you had to traverse 24 chapters of increasingly fiendish and deadly environmental puzzles. (REVIEW) (XBLA - $15)

16. Puzzle Quest 2 - The latest title in the Puzzle Quest series improved on the original version while returning to its traditional gameplay formula after deviating from it in Puzzle Quest: Galactrix. (REVIEW) (XBLA, PSN, PC, iOS - $15)

Frank West Returns in Dead Rising 2: Case West

17. Dead Rising 2: Case West - The standalone epilogue to Dead Rising 2 saw the return of Frank West as he helped Chuck Green solve the mystery of what happened in Fortune City. This was a more streamlined approach to Dead Rising that featured co-op play and the return of photography to the series. (XBLA - $10)

18. Vandal Hearts: Flames of Judgement - This title is easily one of the best turn-based strategy games available on the current HD consoles. A lengthy, well-balanced campaign and ample optional content should last most players 16-20 hours and represented better value than many retail offerings. (REVIEW) (XBLA, PSN - $15)

19. Jett Rocket - An overlooked 3D platformer, Jett Rocket was a competent representation of the genre that pushed the 40 MB cap of WiiWare to its limit with amazing graphics and ample content. Players were able to pilot a number of vehicles across some beautiful environments. (WiiWare - $10)

20. Lazy Raiders - This lighthearted puzzle-platformer took the mechanics of your childhood’s marble maze and applied it to the world of treasure hunting. Lazy Raiders had players tilting and turning the world upside-down to help their sluggish hero collect plenty of bounty. (REVIEW) (XBLA - $10)

2010 also saw the release of quality, but somewhat flawed titles such as DeathSpank, Scott Pilgrim vs. the World: The Videogame, echochrome ii, Sonic the Hedgehog 4: Episode 1, Raskulls and Bit.Trip Fate; all of which were carefully considered for this list.

2011 promises to deliver even more high-quality “full game” experiences as both publishers and consumers continue to embrace digital distribution. We expect to see even more variation in content as well, thanks to the advent of the Kinect for Xbox 360 and PlayStation Move motion control systems.