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The 9 best XBLA games

Top games you can download on your 360

Xbox Live Arcade has always been the place to go for a cheap entertainment fix but with the quality of downloadable games really rivaling retail releases now seems as good a time as any to check out Microsoft's downloadable service.

Here's our guide to the nine best titles available on the platform...

'SPLOSION MAN
As amusing as a man on fire could possibly be, 'Splosion Man is one of the most frantic and fun games to hit XBLA. This puzzle platformer sees our hero imbued with explosive powers and the cost of a little bit of his sanity.

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Who needs sanity when it gives you the ability to blow up on demand anyway?

This 'explosive' power can be used to launch 'Splosion Man into the air, the trick is to time your blowups to bounce off walls, dodge obstacles and steer clear of clichéd platform hazards like acid lakes, crushing walls, and laser beams to reach the end of a whole host of fiendishly designed levels. It's a challenging experience but a ton of fun and an additional co-operative mode means that 'Splosion Man is a steal at 800 MS points.

BIONIC COMMANDO
Reinvigorating an old IP can be a precarious business but Capcom were bang on the money bringing Bionic Commando back into the public eye with BC: Rearmed.

Playing as Nathan 'Radd' Spencer you must make use of his trusty bionic arm to swing through levels in a manner that would rival Spidey himself. A lack of a jump button means your bionic arm becomes as indispensable as life support to Spencer, who will meet a grisly end if you can't learn to be king of the swingers.

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Bionic Commando Rearmed not only faithfully recreates the original but improves on it heavily: be it the great visuals, the kick-ass soundtrack or the inclusion of multiplayer modes such as local co-op. Forget nonsensical plot about 'wife-arms', this is the definitive Bionic Commando experience.

CASTLE CRASHERS
Castle Crashers is living proof that side-scrolling beat-em-ups aren't dead yet. The combat is a simple affair - switch between light and heavy attacks as well as magic to ensure the bad guys suffer a horrific death.

To aid you on your quest you have access to a wide array of weapons ranging from the normal swords and axes to the slightly absurd lollipops, with each providing stat buffs and penalties. Like most side-scrollers, where the game truly shines is when playing with friends and Castle Crashers offers both online and offline options allowing chaos to spew forth with a crazy amount of stuff happening on the screen at one time.

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Castle Crashers can be beaten in a few hours but with more characters to unlock as well as tons of weapons to collect, this is a game that you will undoubtedly want to play again and again.

BRAID
Braid is one of those rare arcade titles that received almost as much attention as a full-priced blockbuster. The puzzle/platformer hybrid won praise for its clever use of time manipulation mechanics and its bittersweet finale.

You play as Tim, an unlikely young hero searching for the Princess who has been abducted by a horrible creature. It sounds familiar, but the way the cliché-sounding fairytale story is told and presented means the game provides something entirely new.

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In this platformer time is definitely on your side and not just for preventing deaths, the power and what you can do with it varies from world to world. One world allows you to create bubbles to slow time and another allows you to create a doppelganger as an assistant to solving tricky puzzles, this means that the time mechanics never feel stale.

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