With a fine blend of professional small studio productions and amateur projects on a shoe-string budget, the quality and production values of Xbox Community Games widely differs, but every one has its own charm and niche audience. But with over 200 games from just £1.70 (200 points), some of the more unique titles are easily lost in the crowd, so here’s a quick tour of the best and most innovative indie productions that’ll charm both your heart and wallet.


‘Artoon’ (400 Points) 

A completely mesmerising visual platformer that’s a clever wink and a nod to puzzle classic Q*bert. Notching up points as your bouncing blob colours in floating tiles, quick thinking is needed as devilishly-placed tiles threaten to trash your score multiplier. While it stands as a fun platformer, the real selling point is the striking visuals that transform from stage to stage, from bleeding neon platforms to LCD pixels that cause screen static disturbance if you go the wrong way. (Game Page)


‘Blow’ (400 Points) 

Anyone who has wasted time at school or the office with a flash game will instantly feel at home with the physics maze genre, but Blow makes it a serine time-sink rather than a quick five-minute distraction. Guiding bubbles from end to end using well-placed fans is an economic exercise of devoting resources as much as it is a physics one; can you save points by using heated, rising fans instead of costly high-speed ones? (Game Page)


‘CarneyVale Showtime’ (400 Points) 

Storming independent festivals with its showbiz presence, this is a humble ragdoll physics exercise that tests how well you gauge timing and momentum. Grabbers scoop up the flying acrobat to swing around until released again, hopefully making his way to the next grabber and up towards the exit. But with out-of-reach collectables and a host of unlockables to aim for, it’s a consistently perilous escapade. (Game Page)


‘Easy Golf: Course Architect’ (400 Points) 

With visuals to rival Wii Sports and features to put most Live Arcade games to shame, the price point is easily justified after a quick hole or two. This arcade golf game comes with a host of courses and online options, from playing with up to eight others and sharing custom courses, as well as unlockable pirate hats and custom soundtracks to help weather out those stormy holes. An eager online community will ensure you ‘putting’ in the play time too. (Game Page)


‘Groov’ (200 Points) 

The most noteworthy shooter on the service, this clone of Geometry Wars is actually a covert music synthesizer. Defeated enemies chime out musical samples, such as deep base cords, trumpet samples or synth voices in time with your piano key projectiles to create a soundtrack to your survival. While it can be played as a standard twin-stick shooter with a novel twist, it’s very possible to time attacks to create your own music, especially as slowing down the pace encourages survival and that creative streak. (Game Page)


‘In The Pit’ (400 Points) 

A game with no graphics, you play a blind monster that relies on sound and vibration to find its prey. Playing with surround sound or headphones is optimal, you stalk your prey listening to their footsteps before sneaking towards them, feeling the controller vibrate as you get close, and quickly tap A to gobble them whole. While the sound is regrettably low budget and the detection slightly off, the concept shines through to make this innovative idea worth checking out. (Game Page)


‘Johnny Biscuit’s Platform Romp’ (200 Points) 

One of the most aesthetically pleasing games on the service, this delicious slice of retro platforming is full of charm and challenge. Not only does it look and sound straight from the 8-Bit era, but its enemy stomping, block pushing, crumbling platform game mechanics play like it too. With 55 stages of castles, forests and towers made of cake, as well as a few Scottish sound bytes, it’s definitely one for those grown on a diet of old-school platformers. (Game Page)


‘Machiavelli’s Ascent’ (200 Points) 

Behind a gorgeous aesthetic of watercolour visuals is one of the service’s most simple and refined arcade experiences. Using the bubbles floating through the ocean, your bouncy jellyfish climbs up to the surface by tapping the triggers, chaining the pockets of air to gain momentum and points. But when the screen empties, a panic sets in as you make a last ditch attempt at a far away bubble before plummeting to the sea bed and starting over. A game can last thirty seconds or three minutes, and you’ll always be up for another go. (Game Page)


‘Miner Dig Deep’ (200 Points) 

It’s unabashedly simple – you dig through the earth, discover ores, resurface to fill up on kerosene, and head back down again. It’s hard to explain why it’s so addictive – maybe it’s the nature of man to explore to unknown, or that every upgraded item yields new dirt to dig and ores to sell. Ladders and elevators aid your exploration, but digging in the dark means one boulder bump loses your treasure, adding a welcome element of risk reward. For the price, it’s one of the best value games out there. (Game Page)


‘Weapon Of Choice’ (400 Points) 

Created by an ex-Insomniac programmer, this is his dream childhood game – a no-holds barred action platformer of laying waste to aliens left and right. While it seems like a standard Contra clone, each character has a unique ‘weapon of choice’, and can live to fight another day by using the slow motion death brushing system. With pop out textures, huge bosses and explosions galore, all it needs is an Austrian breezeblock or a slurring boxer to complete the blockbuster setup. (Game Page)


‘ZP2K9’ (200 Points) 

The lovechild of Super Smash Bros. and The Matrix, this is a cartoony shooter where you can run up walls and serve your enemies a katana sandwich. You can chuck bullets at bots or at real people over Xbox Live, and while there’s only one (rather expansive) map, its dozen weapons have a range of depth, and you can take on players in the classic staples of King of the Hill and Capture the Flag. With its active online community, it’s fast and frantic fun. (Game Page)