If there has been just one notable addition to this generation of consoles, it is the growth of downloadable video games. I can’t count the number of articles I’ve read discussing how vastly this segment of gaming has grown and how revolutionary it may prove to be in the future, so I decided to throw one more into the mix. The Bargain Bin usually covers those old-fashioned disc-based games that you can hold in your hand, but recently, emboldened by some friendly gift cards, I decided to take the plunge and purchase a few choice titles. Of course, they are worth far more than their asking prices, and whenever that’s the case, it’s a good thing for you.
I don’t personally own an Xbox 360 — "burn him at the stake!" — but as any up-to-date gamer will tell you, it has a ton of great games that you can buy via Xbox Live. Excluding the obvious tiles (Geometry Wars, Braid), there are still a slew of great titles to sate your gaming hunger and not one of the following goes for any more than ten dollars.
Doom (800 Points)
If you haven’t played Doom you’re out of touch with gaming’s roots. This is the great granddaddy of modern shooters, easily the game that solidified FPS games as a genre, and despite its age, it still holds up remarkably well today. Featuring a lengthy single-player campaign, four-player co-op, and online multiplayer, it’s a great game that any fan of FPS games will enjoy.
Duke Nukem 3D (800 Points)
While I hate to perpetuate the stereotype of the 360 being a console solely for shooters, I can’t leave this game off the list. Duke Nukem 3D is a relentlessly fun game, filled to the brim with all the humor, nudity, ultra-violence, and cheesy one-liners you could ever want in anything. Duke Nuke Forever may never come out, and even if it does, there is a good chance it will suck. But even if that is the case, gamers everywhere will still thankfully have this treasure of a game that never seems to get old. Go ahead, I dare you to try not to tip the strippers.
Worms (400 Points)
Worms is just good, family fun. Some people might object to that classification. I mean yes, it does involve some pretty heavy-duty violence, but it’s highly stylized. I just think it would take a real hypocrite to object to blowing worms up with bombing runs when traditional father-son bonding generally dictates at least one outing where said wrigglers are impaled on hooks and then drowned to death. If you haven’t played worms, here’s your chance to do it for a paltry five dollars. You may not like it as much as I do, but hey, even if you don’t, it’s only five bucks. I know that’s not the way I should be thinking with the economy the way it is, but if five bucks is going to break you, then you shouldn’t be buying video games in the first place.
The PlayStation Network has always gotten a bad rap due to the fact that it is basically XBLA Jr. It’s not bad, but it isn’t as big and strong as the 360’s online service. That said, it is free, and if you can get past some of the things it doesn’t have, you’ll find some nice content. Better yet, you’ll find some nice cheap content, which is always a plus in my book. The biggest point-winner in my book, however, is the fact that many of the games on the PSN are compatible not just with your PS3, but also your PSP. Portability rocks no matter how you swing it.
Go to eBay right now and search for an original copy of this game. I just did and the best deal I could find was a used one for thirty bucks. When a game as old as this one is selling for that much, you know it has to be something good. Suikoden is. A nice RPG from the PS era, it shrugs off the typical “good guys vs. ultimate evil” theme that most games of this genre run off of and chooses to center around a more focused, grounded story about a revolutionary trying to bring down a corrupt and tyrannical government. I know, there have been more than a few of those too, but you have to expect some overlap. The game features a nice, traditional combat style for retro fans and a whopping 108 party members available for recruitment. You’ll only ever need six, but hey, it’s nice to have options.
Crash Commando ($9.99)
Crash Commando was honestly not my cup of tea, but I could see how others might like it. If all you want is some cheap mindless shooter action that’s at least a bit more unique than the typical run-and-gun offerings most FPS games are relying on as of late then Crash Commando is certainly a game to invest in. This multiplayer side-scrolling shooter puts you in control of a jetpack-equipped soldier out for blood. Why exactly? Who cares, all you need to know is where your opponents are and figure out a way to kill them. It’s a game that could have been more in my opinion, but that doesn’t stop it from being fun. For ten dollars, that may be all that a lot of people want.
Everyday Shooter ($9.99)
It seems to me that a lot of people have forgotten about Everyday Shooter. A few years back, people were dazzled by it. Its homegrown development style and proportionally astronomical success seemed to many to be a herald of the future, and since then I can’t recall hearing much about it. Everyday Shooter plays like any action game of its style, but with a twist — killing your opponents progresses a musical sequence. The more consistent your play, the further the song gets. It’s a pretty cool idea that was pulled off wonderfully by indie developer Jonathan Mak.
I will confess it. I don’t like the Wii very much. Nintendo’s apparent devotion to both alienating its core fans and using its “revolutionary” motion controls for little better than parlor games has annoyed me since the day I plopped down two hundred fifty dollars, played it for a few minutes and said, “This is it?” That said, it does have its perks. Take the Wii Store for instance; always fillied to the brim with affordable classic titles you’d have to pay a bundle to find in their original form nowadays. It allows old fogies such as myself to relive the glory days when Nintendo actually put out quality games. Here are a few titles to get potential Wii owners started.
Donkey Kong Country (800 Points)
When this game came out back in the day, no one had ever seen graphics on a console like this before. Times have changed and the glitz of DKC has certainly faded a bit with time, but one thing that has remained dramatically unchanged is the sheer quality of this game. Donkey Kong Country is a great platformer — among the best, really — and if you’re a fan of this slowly re-emerging genre then you couldn’t do better than to invest a few hundred points in this SNES classic.
StarTropics (500 Points)
A sadly forgotten classic, StarTropics is like Zelda, except perhaps better. Eschewing the sometimes clumsy free-roam style of the original Legend of Zelda, StarTropics is a tightly made adventure defined by kook. Your weapon is a yo-yo, your foes are do-dos, ghosts, and do-dos and at one point your character shoves bananas in his ears. How can any of this make sense? The only way you’re going to find out is to drop a few points on this great NES game and join in the adventure.
The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time (1000 Points)
Whatever XBLA and the PSN might have, this game trumps it. When I tell you that this is still one of the greatest games ever made, a title I do not hand out lightly, I mean it. This game was revolutionary and still plays like a dream more than ten years after its initial release. That Nintendo would sell this for so little actually astounds me. It cost almost seventy dollars — Canadian cash, mind you — when I was a kid, and I would pay just as much to play it today if I had to. Buy this game and I will guarantee you dozens of hours of no-holds-barred enjoyment. If I didn’t have my N64 copy still hanging around, I would almost say it would be worth buying a Wii just to play this one, decade-old game.
Games to Avoid
I’ve developed a love recently for retro-styled dungeon crawlers as of late. I loved Orcs and Elves, spent hours playing Etrian Odyssey, and am happily awaiting this year’s release of Dark Spire by Atlus. But do not put money into Mazes of Fate for the DS. A remake of the Game Boy Advance game of the same name, Mazes of Fate is defines mediocre. It doesn’t necessarily do anything bad, and for the first few hours it is genuinely enjoyable. That said, after those first bits of fun fade away it becomes a dull routine of doing precisely the same thing over and over again. I know, to some extent routine is to be an expected part of games of this type. Etrian Odyssey after all was just the same thing over and over again for a good twenty to thirty hours. But Etrian Odyssey was also quite a challenge. Mazes of Fate is bitterly easy, leaving almost no meat to chew on once the novelty of tapping the touch screen to attack wears off.