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The 30 Xbox Live Arcade games you need to own

As XBLA approaches 600 titles, we assess the very best...

The reveals of Far Cry 3: Blood Dragon and Flashback HD further highlight how important digital platforms have become to gaming.

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Since the launch of the Xbox 360 in November 2005 nearly 600 games have been released on Xbox Live Arcade, and we've whittled them down to the 30 titles you need to have in your collection. From retro remakes to brand new titles, every game in this list is truly essential.

Did we miss your favourite? Let us know in the comments section below.


1. Banjo-Kazooie / Banjo-Tooie

Rare / 1200 Points each
Rare's classic Nintendo 64 platformers were considered the only ones at the time that could truly rival Super Mario 64. While the long-rumoured third game never emerged, these HD remakes are enough consolation (almost). Both games are as playable today as they were back at the turn of the millennium, with a great sense of humour that perfectly demonstrates how great Rare was during its golden days.

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2. Beyond Good & Evil HD

Ubisoft Shanghai / 800 Points
A superb PlayStation 2, Xbox and GameCube game that was criminally overlooked by the vast majority of gamers, Beyond Good & Evil made enough of an impact on the few who did play it to earn it cult classic status. This HD remake gives you a chance to see why playing as a photojournalist in a mining planet on 2345 leads to one of the most exciting and rewarding adventures to date, and should prepare you for the planned sequel... if it's ever released.

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3. Castle Crashers

The Behemoth / 1200 Points
There are plenty of side-scrolling beat 'em ups on Xbox Live Arcade but Castle Crashers is one of the few must-haves because of The Behemoth's trademark art style, which is beautifully animated and a joy to see. This is easily one of the best local four-player co-op experiences you'll have on the Xbox 360.

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4. Castlevania: Symphony Of The Night

Konami / 800 Points
Many believe that Symphony Of The Night remains the greatest game in the 27-year history of the Castlevania series. It's little wonder - as the first Castlevania to do away with linear levels and kick off the series' contribution to what's now known as the Metroidvania genre, Symphony Of The Night was truly revolutionary. Sixteen years later it's still a fantastic game, with the added bonus that the voice acting - once merely tolerable - is now great for comedy value.

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5. Dead Rising 2: Case Zero / Case West

Capcom / 400 and 800 Points
Bookending the events of Dead Rising 2, Case Zero and Case West were released one month before the game's release and three months after it respectively. Case Zero shows Chuck dealing with a minor zombie outbreak in a small town called Still Creek, before he heads to Fortune City in the game proper. Case West, meanwhile, takes place at the end of Dead Rising 2 and has Frank West from the original Dead Rising teaming up with Chuck to try to clear his name of blame for the zombie outbreak. Both games are brilliant bite-sized chunks of Dead Rising gameplay.

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6. Geometry Wars: Retro Evolved 2

Bizarre Creations / 800 Points
The original Geometry Wars was a bonus mini-game hidden in a garage arcade machine in Project Gotham Racing 2. It was so popular among gamers that a proper XBLA version, Retro Evolved, was released. The sequel, Retro Evolved 2, is one of the most addictive high-score games on the system. It's a twin-stick shooter where waves of enemies grow increasingly numerous and more difficult to destroy. Its various game modes all offer that perfect balance in that they're long enough to let you continually improve your score, but short enough that you're perfectly happy to play again when you die. And again. And again.

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