Monthly, the Hawk gives you the good, the bad and the ugly of the whole Xbox Live Marketplace content. To end this year, let’s look at the best (and worst) arcade titles.

Overall, 2011 has been a great year. Although we didn’t get a game breaking the 90 barrier in Metacritic, we did get a lot of excellent titles, including what I consider the Braid of this year: Bastion. An innovative design and an unique approach to game narration once again show us that a great game in our arena does not need to cost $60 (at least the Spike awards did nail this one).

As I stated on another article (Marketplace Delights #3), the year began well for the Arcade titles. Ilomilo, Torchlight, Beyond Good and Evil HD and Full House Poker were joined by other great titles: NBA Jam Fire Edition, Orcs Must Die!, Radiant Silvergun, Dungeon Defenders, From Dust to name a few. We got some great prices as well, so you can really get a great return of your space bucks. There are also expensive ones (on the $15 border) but they are excellent as well (Street Fighter 3, anyone?).

We gave welcome to some good old classics, including Guardian Heroes, Boulder Dash, Half-Minute Hero, Mortal Kombat, Burger Time, Space Channel 5 part 2, and the still alive Sonic CD. And as it’s always the case, the crap was not far behind: Ghostbusters, Battle: Los Angeles (and the movie-to-videogame dilemma keeps going on!), Dungeons and Dragons: Daggerdale (how can they botch a D&D game like that!) and Star Raiders (my beloved game of the 80’s for the Atari VCS and Atari computers got a terrible development for the current console generation – ARGH!!!).

Microsoft has given us some good offers for most of these titles (recently there was one for both Bastion and Street Fighter 3, as well for Mortal Kombat and Marvel vs. Capcom 2 on last Thanksgiving). In some cases you’ll have to keep on the lookout if you want to get your hand on one of your preferred titles.

I know some of you have doubts about using Metacritic as a leverage (stated before as well). Unfortunately, if you look closer to the review system inside Live, we will find too many holes: no game approaching the 5 stars yet; lowest score for a game being 3.16 (Ghostbusters with a 3.82?!?); with millions of members and the game most voted for only gets 39,000 votes; these are the kind of criteria that leaves us doubts about the internal rating system. As players we have to do our part and help the community get their best on a purchase by voting for our preferred games.

So which ones are the recommendations from yours truly? Here they are:

For those looking for the best savings: Sonic CD, Beyond Good & Evil, Outland and Bangai-o are the ones to get

If price is not a concern, then these are a must in your library: Insanely Twisted Shadow Planet, Dungeon Defenders, From Dust, Orcs must Die, Toy Soldiers: Cold War, Iron Brigade, Street Fighter 3, Bastion and Joe Danger (I know the Trials HD camp will yell that their game is much more real, but the fun factor is completely set on the new contender)

On the mixed bag I put Radiant Silvergun, Guardian Heroes, Warhammer 40K: Kill Team and Iron Brigade (Trenched)

Do yourself a favor and buy Trine 2. If you like puzzle games with a special twist, or loved Blizzard’s The Lost Vikings, this graphical tour-de-force IS your game (and it’s multi-player!). I gave it the award of the best game of 2011 that you’ll play on 2012

It has been a wonderful year for the Arcade crowd. Kudos to those developers that really outdid themselves by bringing us some great titles.

On behalf of yours truly and the team of WouldYouKindly, have a great holidays, and our best wishes for 2012.

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