Ocean Drive Challenge:
This is basically an OutRun clone, although done with high res graphic tiles. It doesn't quite have the same charm without that mid-80s pixelly-ness, and there's only one route to the end rather than dividing until multiple courses, but the controls handle well, and it's pretty fun. The major difference is that hitting a car only bumps you out a bit instead of causing you to spin out of control - to balance this out there's also a lot more cars on the road, which makes it feel a little more cluttered compared to the original game.
Neat little action-puzzler where you need to reach the exit and collect as many gems as possible before the rising lava table turns you to ashes. Great idea, and it's definitely a solid game, but it feels like it could use some kind of gimmick (grappling hook? Grappling hooks are rarely not awesome) to really make it shine.
What's essentially a parody of the awful new Xbox Live interface is actually a really damn good game, or at least the foundations of one. Actually navigating through a series of cluttered, inane menus, you can actually play the game, starring that weird green hoodie-wearing, jump kicking girl featured in the "Game Type" menu. It's a shooter vaguely similar to Mommy's Best Games' Shoot1up, with a big focus on scoring mechanics. Shooting enemies will slightly increase your multiple, as well as grant you cash to build up your "parkour" (AKA laser) bar. You can also sacrifice half of your laser bar to slow down time and cancel out any bullets with your beam. The same level is looped over and over, progessively getting harder, and while the scoring is fun, it's a little bit too easy. With some balancing and placed in the context of a standard level-based game, this would easily be amazinh. It's funny too - all of the random enemies you fight are comprised of the commercialized junk you see on the fake dashboard.
Curse of the Crescent Isle:
I actually should've written about this while back, since it's well over a year old at this point. It's retro throwback like many titles on the service, although better than most. Greatly inspired by Super Mario Bros. 2 (the USA one, or Doki Doki Panic, if you'd like), the main mechanic involves jumping on enemies and picking them up. Advancing that idea a bit, like Kirby, many enemies have a unique property, whether it allows you bounce on spikes or flip gravity. The first level's a bit slow, but once it gets going it's a quality game, and is just enough to make you annoyed at Nintendo that they never properly followed up on SMB2.
A platformer where you're required to advance the game by collecting in-game currency and purchasing random stuff, spoofing the modern day need for DLC. You begin without the ability to jump (or even properly animate) and eventually work your way up to buying in-game weapons to avoid grinding and so forth. As a game it's pretty average, and it's essentially a one-joke premise spread out over a thirty minute game, but it's presented well enough to make it funny, so in the end it's worthwhile. Plus considering the gaming industry takes itself far too seriously, any kind of satire is definitely welcome.
Far and away the best looking game I've seen on the service, Orbitron is a variation on Defender, where you must defend an orbital ring from enemies. There are set cores that are attacked, so it's a matter of flying back and forth, trying to juggle the quickly mounting onslaught against multiple areas. Thankfully there's the ability to boost to move quicker, as well as gates to quickly move between sectors. Plus there's a scoring system involving multiplers to make things a little more interesting, and again, it looks incredible. The only downfalls: sometimes the power-ups tend to look too similar to enemies, and the frame rate is stuck at 30, so combined with the slightly curved scrolling at the edges, it's slightly headache inducing after awhile. Apparently there's a PC version in the works which will run smoother, but this game is still definitely worth the 240 points as it stands.
We already did an article on this Arkanoid-type brick-breaker game a few months ago, but we wanted to highlight this again because it's worth grabbing. It's also out on the PC.
I really should work on compiling a list of "must have" XBLIG titles. There's a huge amount of junk on the service, but also some rather excellent titles that tend to get ignored - even for myself, I usually only go browsing through there every few months to see what's new, but then again, I only turn on my Xbox once every few weeks to begin with. Everyone by now really should have, at the very least, Protect Me Knight and Shoot1up, as well as Breath of Death VII and Cthulhu Saves the World (if you don't already have the PC versions of those anyway). Any other favorites?