On the download
Blockbuster games don't always hit retail shelves. With game makers now making titles available for download at lower prices, there are a number of non-traditional purchases for owners of any gaming system. Plus, if you get desperate for something new after an all-night gaming binge, they don't require a 4 a.m. drive to Wal-Mart. Here are four to consider adding to your gaming budget.
"1942: Joint Strike"
System: PS3, Xbox 360
Price: $10 or 800 Microsoft Points
The latest in the long-running shooter series gives a new life to the classic top-down arcade game. Joint Strike feels like a revamp of the coin-op 1942 game, but the updated graphics and ability to play cooperatively online puts it firmly on the modern game map. Players fly one of three WWII-era super-planes against hordes of ships, planes, tanks and helicopters. Nerves of steel and more than a little arcade twitch skill are required for mastery.
"Geometry Wars 2"
System: Xbox 360
Price: 800 Microsoft Points
Keeping with the shooter concept, Geometry Wars 2 is the psychedelic grandson of Atari's ancient classic Asteroids, filled with a large assortment of polygon enemies and special challenges. The game boasts six single and multiplayer modes, increasing the chances of finding a mode that'll be personally addictive. It's visually chaotic - to the point of distraction - but what's even more challenging are the co-op modes and online leader boards.
Not interested in shooting alien polygons or aircraft carriers? Sony's Pixeljunk Eden is a nice, nonviolent alternative. This minimalist game pushes players to re-grow their garden of Eden using a simple pixel-like character, which jumps and swings from the game's plants collecting pollen to unlock nearby seeds. It takes a little time to get the hang of the game's controls, but once you master them, the entire garden can be yours. There's no multiplayer option, but rankings can be tracked among friends.
"Strong Bad's Cool Game for Attractive People, Episode 1: Homestar Ruiner"
System: Wii, PC
Price: $9.95 or 1,000 Wii Points
If you don't know who Strong Bad is, head over to HomestarRunner.com, where you'll be introduced to the long-running Flash animated series' breakout bad boy and his universally wacky humor. Homestar Ruiner is the first episode in a line of more traditional point-and-click adventure games designed by Telltale, and they really nail the series' self-parody. Despite its family-friendly feel, this is aimed at teens and adults.