The lights are on
Joe DangerDeveloper: Hello GamesRelease: June 2010 (PSN), December 2011 (XBLA)Format: PSN, XBLAAlthough it may look like a cartoony Excitebike at first glance, Joe Danger is as much of a platformer as it is a racing game. Like Trials HD, Joe Danger tasks the player with navigating intricate obstacle courses on the back of a motorcycle while watching the clock and maintaining your balance. However, Joe Danger takes the formula to absurd new heights, with a Tony Hawk-style trick system that will have you stringing together insane combos as you spin, flip, and hurl yourself through each level. A comprehensive track editor allows you to make your own courses to challenge your friends, but if designing levels isn't your thing, the core game has plenty of challenges to keep you busy.
LimboDeveloper: PlaydeadRelease Date: July 2010 (XBLA), July 2011 (PSN), Mac (December 2011), PC (January 2012)Format: PSN, XBLA, PC, MacA stark black and white background of glowing light and dark shadow frame the mysterious world of Limbo. Telling the tale of a young boy in search for his missing sister, Limbo's striking visuals and sparse but haunting audio design make the game incredibly immersive. Tack on some brilliant puzzles, harrowing chases, and true moments of discovery, and the game is more than worth the asking price.
Might & Magic: Clash of Heroes HDDeveloper: Capybara GamesRelease Date: April 2011Format: PSN, XBLAFor players who loved Puzzle Quest, might we recommend another excellent puzzle/RPG? Might & Might: Clash of Heroes originally released to Nintendo DS in December 2009, but Capybara went back and lovingly crafted a new visual treatment to release for console download. The result is pretty familiar fantasy storytelling, but an engaging match-three combat system that remains challenging and engaging for hours.
From DustDeveloper: Ubisoft MontpellierRelease Date: July 2011 (XBLA), August 2011 (PSN), September 2011 (PC)Format: PSN, XBLA, PCEric Chahi's intriguing strategy game sets itself apart by putting you in control of the natural forces surrounding a village of settlers, though you have little direct control over the actions of the people. Playing in an enormous sandbox with the fate of an entire culture and society in the balance, From Dust is gorgeous to look at, and even more fun to play.
Trine 2Developer: FrozenbyteRelease Date: December 2011Format: PSN, XBLA, Windows, Mac, LinuxOne of the most innovative and beautiful puzzle games on the market, Trine 2 also happens to be one of the most fun to play with friends. Focusing on cooperative play between three unique characters who each bring their own abilities to the mission, Trine 2 is a rich fantasy filled with vibrant color, chuckle-worthy humor, and smart design.
I Am AliveDeveloper: Ubisoft ShanghaiRelease Date: March 2012 (XBLA), April 2012 (PSN)Format: PSN, XBLAThe scariest thing is feeling powerless. That's the theme that drives the excitement and tension of I Am Alive, a unique twist on survival/horror that has a man navigating a disaster-strewn city in search of his missing family. With limited resources and ever-present danger from survivors and the surrounding environment, the game proves that using your wits can be just as fun and thrilling as a gun, assuming the game manages to make you believe you're in real danger at every turn.
SkullgirlsDeveloper: Autumn GamesRelease Date: April 2012Format: PSN, XBLAIt's rare that a worthwhile new fighting game franchise arrives on the scene, and nearly unheard of that it shows up as a download title. However, that's exactly what happened with Skullgirls, a tournament quality fighter filled with bodacious anime-inspired girls, creative move sets, and tight, responsive controls. It's well worth a look for players ready for something new in the world of games that focus on beating up your opponent.
Check back tomorrow when we’ll have a brand new Essentials list chronicling the best in mobile gaming.
Email the author Matt Miller, or follow on Game Informer.