Almost every child who owned a Nintendo has fond memories of their favorite 8-bit games.
One of my favorite Nintendo games was “Excitebike,” a motorcycle racing game. It let you design your own track, complete with the ability to place jumps and obstacles on the creation.
Like any old Nintendo game, though, “Excitebike” had its limitations. The lack of memory space on cartridges created a lack of depth in most games.
My fond memories, however, of that game were rekindled when I played “Trials HD.” The downloadable game, available on Xbox Live, doesn’t put you in a race against computer-controlled racers. This game forces you to race your motorcycle against the clock through a course littered with ridiculous obstacles and jumps. Much like “Excitebike,” players can also design their own course. The game also has skill competitions, and it measures your best marks against that of your Xbox Live friends in both the races and skill competitions.
“Trials HD” is one of two standout releases over the past few months on Xbox Live that harken back to the days of two-dimensional Nintendo games.
The other is “Shadow Complex,” which is a side-scrolling adventure game that features shooting and platforming elements. Everyone probably has their favorite platformer from the Nintendo days — I loved “Contra” — and “Shadow Complex” takes elements from all of them and combines them into the best downloadable game of the year.
These games don’t measure up to some of the better standalone games released this holiday season, but they are significantly less expensive, and they pack a nostalgic factor that mainstream releases don’t offer.
Both Microsoft and Sony release downloadable games nearly every week over online services. But these two really shined, and more standout games will continue to be released this way as more developers embrace the downloadable option.
So while you’re out shopping for last-minute Christmas gifts, remember that two of the better options can be downloaded.