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The Essential PlayStation Network Game List

This week we return to the essential downloadable games of this generation, shining light on the newest titles that no gamer should miss.

Last year we outlined some of the best games across the life of the major console download services, with an eye towards including the important early games on the service as well as the latest and greatest hits. This week we're taking an updated look at each platform, adding in all the great titles that came out since last year. We'll start with PlayStation Network.

Launching almost two years after Microsoft rolled out its XBLA service, the PlayStation Network has had a lot of ground to cover in order catch up to its main rival. Thanks to developers like Jenova Chen and Hello Games, who have openly praised Sony's support for smaller studios, the company has earned the reputation of being an ally to independent developers interested in riskier and more artistic projects. Sony's lack of a maximum file size for DLGs helped bring some impressive titles to the platform in its infancy, and cemented the notion that developers face fewer restrictions on the PS3.

While the PSN library still might not be as robust as Xbox Live Arcade's, there are plenty of innovative and entertaining titles worth playing. If you checked out this list last year, jump to the last page to see what's new, and don't forget to share your favorites in the comments below. Come back tomorrow for the next group of downloadable games. 

Super Stardust HD
Developer:
Housemarque
Release Date:
June 2007

One of the early PSN games, this twin stick shooter quickly became Sony's answer to Geometry Wars. However, Super Stardust HD's roots run considerably deeper than Bizarre Creations' shoot 'em up: The Stardust series started with its titular debut on the Amiga in 1993. This HD sequel wowed PS3 owners with 1080p graphics that ran at a rock steady 60 frames per second, regardless of the screen-filling chaos that could erupt at any second. Super Stardust HD featured several different gameplay modes and two-player local co-op, all at a more than affordable price tag, causing this under-promoted title to sell more than 25,000 copies in its first week of sale.

Everyday Shooter
Developer:
Backbone Entertainment
Release Date:
October 2007 (Also on PC)

Developed solely by its designer Jonathon Mak, Everyday Shooter is one of the first titles that helped establish PlayStation Network as a platform for artistic indie games. Sony snagged the rights to publishing Everyday Shooter after seeing the game at the 2007 Independent Games Festival. Everyday Shooter took home the prize for Design Innovation, thanks to shooter-based levels that play out like interactive songs: Every enemy you destroy creates musical notes that harmonize with the instrumental background music. Each level has its own visual style to match that stage's song, creating wildly different gameplay experiences that shouldn't be missed.

Echochrome
Developer:
Japan Studio
Release Date:
May 2008

Another title that became popular with the art crowd, Echochrome is a puzzle game inspired by the optical illusions of M.C. Escher. Players must guide a wooden mannequin to its goal by shifting the camera perspective to manipulate the environment. For example, rotate the camera until a foreground object obstructs the view of a hole in ground, and the mannequin will pass over it as if the obstacle no longer exists. Echochrome's mind-bending gameplay is complemented by its stark white art style and classically-inspired soundtrack created by composer Hideki Sakamoto.

Elefunk
Developer:
8bit Games
Release Date:
July 2008

If you're a fan of puzzle games that are as challenging as they are eccentric, Elefunk is right up your alley. The goal of Elefunk is to build bridges across a variety of gorges and chasms, and test their durability by having elephants stomp across them. Despite the light-hearted presentation, Elefunk has been criticized for its steep learning curve (not to mention its distinct lack of funk). However, if you enjoy the simple thrill of creating structures and watching them fall down, you'll be more than pleased with this charming puzzler.

PixelJunk Eden
Developer:
Q-Games
Release: 
July 2008

Q-Games is a developer that has consistently delivered great downloadable games for PSN under its PixelJunk moniker. While its first two titles, PixelJunk Racer and PixelJunk Monsters, were solid offerings, PixelJunk Eden entranced players with its intriguing control scheme, arresting visuals, and addictive gameplay. The PixelJunk Eden Encore expansion packed gave gamers an equally compelling reason to return to the quirky platformer, with new levels and gameplay mechanics.

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