December 11, 2007 12:00 PM | Simon Carless
[This was written by me for big sister site Gamasutra, but I know a lot of GSW fans love console downloadable games, so it seems eminently worth a cross-post, if only for argument-related reasons.]
"Throughout this week and next, Gamasutra is presenting a year-end retrospective, discussing notable games, events, developers, and industry figures of 2007.
First up, we take a look at the top 5 downloadable console games released this year, from Everyday Shooter through Pac-Man CE. The games picked are the editor's choice, and are chosen from the titles released in North America during 2007's calendar year to date.
5. PixelJunk Racers (Q-Games, PlayStation 3)
The folks at the Kyoto-based Q-Games (Star Fox Command), led by former Argonaut coder Dylan Cuthbert, have been trying to take things back to the '80s with simple, iterative self-funded downloadable titles for the PlayStation 3.
Racers is the first of these, and it's intentionally incredibly simple - just acceleration and lane changing needed, slot car style. Perhaps because of this, it's relaxing and addictive all at once, and bodes well for further titles in the PixelJunk series for PSN coming soon.
4. Jetpac Refueled (Rare, Xbox 360)
For those who grew up in Europe in the 1980s and remember the original Jetpac, this enhanced remake is even more enticing - but even for those who don't, the gameplay is beguiling.
It's particularly notable that the gravitational physics behind the Joust-style thrusting, transplanted wholesale from the Stampers' 1983 Ultimate Play The Game original - the first ever title from the now-departed Rare founders - work just as well almost 25 years later.
3. Everyday Shooter (Queasy Games, PlayStation 3)
A gloriously abstract shooter that originally won multiple prizes at the Independent Games Festival this year (Disclaimer: I am IGF Chairman), Jon Mak's title is particularly enjoyable because of its careful blend of strategy, stylish visuals, and action-generated music.
In addition, the concept of radically changing gameplay and look on a level by level basis - something that Mak has compared to a music album - is particularly progressive as a concept. It's also nice to see high scores as a success arbiter returning in such a prominent manner.
2. fl0w (ThatGameCompany, PlayStation 3)
One of the games released this year that is least like a... game, the depth-based eating/growing experience that is fl0w had already been well-tested in Flash by creator Jenova Chen and his associates.
The reason that fl0w works so well is because of its serene experience, carefully basic motion controls, and simply understandable game mechanics. Even the state of navigating the game is relaxing. The fact that such an organic-feeling experience had an explicit end is sad, though - algorithmically generated levels next time?
1. Pac-Man Championship Edition (Namco Bandai, Xbox 360)
The original Pac-Man is simply one of the best games ever created. And, in this world of enhanced remakes, the Japanese developers at Namco Bandai worked with Pac-Man's father Toru Iwatani and created something incredibly special - a remake that improves on the original.
With all the flavor and excitement of the original, the multiple new modes - many of them with explicit time limits and related high scores - layered even smarter strategic gameplay upon the peerless original. And with smart art direction, the title looks amazing in HD. Tremendous."