Community Games have become something of a passion of mine lately. I play pretty much every game that goes up on the service so naturally I was always going to notice when the gaming behemoth that is IGN picked their favourite 10. IGN did nail a few of the excellent Cgames but unfortunately included the likes of A Moron's Challenge. So naturally I assume they're saying it's a moron's challenge to pick 10 great Community Games. Well this moron decided to have a go, here is what I consider to be 10 essential Community Games.
Quick note, these are not in any kind of order. It's just 10 games I love and you should all try all 10 of them. Some of the older games are also much more worthwhile as pretty much all of the old 800 point games have been cut to 400.
I put Kodu in here as a pre-list thing because it's not really a Community Game. A Microsoft Research project to try and get kids into programming using cutesy characters and a very simple interface, however it is also a lot of fun to mess around with and more than capable of creating some decent games if you put the time in. For 400 points it's really something everyone should at least have a go with.
unRevolutionary surprised me if I'm honest. It's a dual stick shooter that came out recently into a market flooded with dull and simple dual stick shooters. So to come across a dual stick that looks excellent, has great simple enemy design and knife edge balanced difficulty was something of a shock. Also knowing how many enemies I have to kill to move onto the next wave really kicks in the mystical 'one more go' factor. Ooooh I only needed 3 more....
I like this game on name alone, I also admit I loved it when I first set eyes on it. It's a brilliantly designed third person shooter with very much a mercenary bent. What sets it apart in my mind is the ability to use money won in fights either offline or online to buy new guns and body parts yet I also get a kick out of having to buy ammo for those guns. No greater terror than running out of ammo with no more left in the tank during a heavy firefight. Also no greater reason to use an evil laugh if it happens the other way round. Execution style FTW.
Blow is a tricky one, released right at the beginning and a Dream Build Play finalist. It's very much like Flower in that it's a zen game. Very peaceful and relaxing but beneath all that there's also an engaging puzzle game based around safely getting bubbles from one side of the level to the other using fans to blow them around and temperature to effectively interfere with gravity. It looks beautiful and really is just one of those games you can lose yourself in for a few hours.
If memory serves, Carneyvale was the first game to come under scrutiny in Jim Sterling's XNA Challenge. Showtime emerged from that with a glowing review and a 9/10 score and with good reason, the charm just seeps from every part of this game from the circus theme to the way the puppet acrobat you control flies through the air grabbing balloons. It's what I consider an excellent example of finding one great gameplay mechanic in flinging the puppet around and building an excellent game around it.
There's a game on Xbox Live Arcade called Golf: Tee it Up! which looks rather similar to Easy Golf, it's rather embarassing that Easy Golf manages to do everything Tee it Up does and quite a bit more for half the money. Fundamentally it's a standard 3-click golf game build around character customisation not unlike Everybody's Golf but what sets it apart is the excellent course creator. While the full game has quite a few 18-hole courses the community behind the game has created an awe inspiring collection of extra courses which is more than enough to keep this game excellent. The devs themselves have been providing the game with plenty of extra content through patches as well, possibly the best value game on Community Games.
Why isn't Tower Defense represented more on Community Games? Because early on this came out and pretty much shut the whole genre. It's cheap, it has loads of levels, excellent depth and an awesome wireframe graphic style. I was actually turned onto this by BunnyRabbit2 at NGathering earlier this year and it's probably one of my favourite tower defense games. Also it's bollocks hard on the later maps.
Every time I play Trino one question comes to mind. Do these guys work for Popcap? And if not, why the hell not? Trino is a glorious example of this so-called 'casual' gaming we keep hearing about and alongside Carneyvale is the list of games that just take one great mechanic and run with it. In this case it's about trapping enemies using a triangle, a deceptively simple premise that gradually gets more complex as enemies get faster and more numerous and the concept of chaining triangles is introduced. Like all the best casual games, the casual players will go for survival, hardcore for high scores but everyone will be addicted.
Clover is not exactly the darling of Community Games. It gets a bit of hate for it's art style but plenty of love for it's excellent music and well written story. The gameplay is just the standard adventure game item ferrying to be sure but it's executed in such a good way that I find it a joy to play through. For a more detailed assessment check out the lovely Colette Bennett's review right here.
It's really quite bizarre this one. A 2D platformer based around defeating a robot army in the land of biscuits. Weird though the story is however this is some good old fashioned puzzle platforming with very few frills but regardless it's cheap and it's fun. Nothing not to like really.
The very definition of a hidden gem. Little Racers isn't visually stunning, neither does it look particularly appealing in screenshots. However once this thing gets rolling and you're battling for position amongst a field of 12 opponents it becomes immensely competitive. There has never been a greater thrill for me than a perfectly timed nudge against an opponent sending them into a race ending spin and Little Racers is perfect for that, also within the top down viewpoint I can see every futile minute of that rival's attempt to catch up. If nothing else it makes being a dick fun.
So there we go, 10 community games everyone should play. If you have any suggestions for other great Community Games then let me know in the comments or in an email. Also if you like reading about community games then check out the weekly recap I do for Negative Gamer on Sundays. Have fun and please support good indie games so they can make more good indie games.