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One look at the most popular games in the "community games" section of the Xbox LIVE Marketplace would make one think that Xbox users like paying money to have their eyes burned out by horrible abortions pretending to be games, and one would be correct. However, I recalled hearing about the Xbox LIVE Community Games Index, which is a community that lets users rate the best of worst XNA games and effectively spread the word on up-and-comers. I paid a quick visit to the site and, using it as a reference, downloaded a number of trial versions of XNA games before finally purchasing five actually good games, all of which were a measly 200 points. I now bring you that list of five games, all of which you should download the respective demos for.
Note: The order of the list has nothing to do with quality, and I'm not saying that these are the five best games on XNA. I plan on doing another list with five XNA games in the near future! These are just five that you should know about, unless you hate fun.
Groov - 200 points
What at first appears to be a more-affordable version of Geometry Wars quickly distinguishes itself as some sort of music/rhythm/shooter type-thing-game. If that description made no sense, I'll clarify; every enemy in the game moves to a certain beat, and your bullets fire at that same beat. Once you hit an enemy and "kill" it, it will turn into a harmless, white version of itself. That white enemy will then die out at a time that is appropriate for the beat of the song. Each different type of enemy makes a different musical sound when it dies, and your bullets make piano...
You know what? Just download the trial. It's like Geometry Wars mixed with Beethoven and Jesus. That's all you need to know.
NextWar: The Quest for Earth - 200 points
As soon as you read the words "tower defense game" in this sentence, about half of you readers started groaning. The other half got all excited, and they should, because I can honestly say that this is without a doubt one of the most fully-featured, great-looking TD games that I've ever played. There's a campaign mode and a "skirmish" mode (basically freeplay), and as you beat levels in campaign mode you'll unlock new towers, research facilities, attack bonuses, and a variety of other goodies. As soon as you turn the game on and see the opening in-game demonstration of a wave being fought off by a massive number of unique towers, you'll figure out why this is far-and-away the best tower defense game available for not only XNA, but for the entire 360 console. Not that that's saying much, but still.
Johnny Platform's Biscuit Romp - 200 points
Johnny Platform's Biscuit Romp is an ugly game. There. I came out and said it. It looks like something that my dog would puke up after eating an entire family of squirrels. Now that we have that out of the way, I can gladly inform you that Johnny is a totally awesome, hardcore platformer. The demo is generous enough in length to give you a suficient taste of the game, and of the price is, of course, totally reasonable.
Philip Muwanga's Hexy Trench - 200 points
I could probably try to describe this game if I wanted to, but I'd probably fail. The best I can come up with is that it's like a combination of Advance Wars and a tower defense game. That isn't even a good description. Either way, it's made by some dude named "Muwanga," so you pretty much HAVE to take a look at it. Just be prepared for a WHOLE ton of ridiculous strategy if you plan on being good. If you're not that bright and feel more at home playing fishing games, you should probably stay away. I'm personally TERRIBLE at it, but that's okay; I still have fun.
Miner Dig Deep - 200 points
I could be wrong about this, but I'm pretty sure that the entire game (even the ability to save your progress) is included in the "trial version." Again, I might be mistaken, but after getting sucked in for over three hours, I realized what time of night it was and how long the demo had lasted. The game is best described as Dig Dug meets... something else that everybody likes. The mine is borderline endlessly deep, and there are tons of nice upgrades to keep you motivated to continue digging deeper and deeper, until the point that you'll be installing complex elevator systems to make movement easier.
This is one of those games that doesn't look like it'd be very much fun when you start it, but sucks you in so quickly that you get addicted and totally lose track of time. Miner Dig Deep is one of my favorite games of the year, and I'm proud to say that I paid the developers my $2.50 for it, even though they didn't make it so that I had to. This is what indie game developers should look to as a model for future games. If you don't glance at any other game on this list, at LEAST do yourself a favor and go play this one.
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