Best Casual Games for the XBox 360?
January 5, 2009 8:49 AM   Subscribe

XBox 360 casual(ish) game recommendations?

Santa brought an XBox 360: woohoo! I've got the "traditional" game selection covered, but could use some advice on the current "best of" when it comes to the casual / "pick it up and play for 15 minutes" selection.

Right now my short list looks something like this:
Puzzle Quest
Beautiful Katamari
Bomberman Live
Braid (not sure if it really makes sense to call it "casual", but it has somewhat of the "pick up" sensibility)
Geometry Wars

(I may dig on Rock Band, but need to actually try it first..)

I'm coming from not having done any console gaming in decades (Colecovision anyone?) , but the occasional FPS/RPG on the PC. So something like Katamari works for me even though it's perhaps old hat for folks who went through all the iterations on the PS.

This thread was helpful, but I'm specifically interested in the 360 platform (that is to say, I'm not interested in answers that start with "get a Wii" :))
posted by kanuck to Sports, Hobbies, & Recreation (26 answers total) 18 users marked this as a favorite
I've been having a great time with Castle Crashers lately—think Golden Axe gameplay meets Adult Swim art design. Short levels, easy to play for short stints.

The new Bionic Commando update, BC: Rearmed, is great fun if you don't mind the classic platformer hardness that they kept intact from the original.
posted by cortex at 8:58 AM on January 5, 2009

If you haven't played Portal on the PC, it's on XBox Live Arcade now, and can definitely be picked up and put down in 15 minutes. Plus it's awesome.
posted by uncleozzy at 9:00 AM on January 5, 2009 [1 favorite]

The following are all on XBLA, have been highly rated, and have demos so you can try before you buy:

Portal: Still Alive
Castle Crashers
Lumines Live!
A Kingdom for Keflings
posted by mattholomew at 9:20 AM on January 5, 2009

There's an odd little title on the Xbox Live Arcade called MLB Stickball - a lot of fun, with none of the intensity of more hardcore baseball apps.

Guitar Hero and Rock Band are exactly the games I use in the situation you're describing - I need to play something but only have 10-15 minutes. They're perfect for that.

Braid has a "pick-up sensibility" at first, but after about an hour, you'll find yourself canceling appointments. And looking up cheat information on the web. DON'T GIVE UP ON THIS GAME. The ending is incredible.

Since you mentioned FPS, you should get a copy of The Orange Box. It's all kinds of awesome, and the Half-Life games let you save whenever you want.
posted by jbickers at 9:21 AM on January 5, 2009

I am not sure if Gears of War 2 fits your casual game definition but the game is sooo damn good and sooo damn easy to pick up, and sooooo short to finish that I thoroughly recommend it....I have an xbox 360 and I have only picked it up this year to play 3 games somehow this one made it to the list.
posted by The1andonly at 9:23 AM on January 5, 2009

Seconding Puzzle Quest, Portal and Castle Crashers.

Braid was great, but I'd agree with your assessment that it's not so casual.

A Kingdom for Keflings is a quick little resource management/city building game.

Hexic 2 is another puzzle game you might try.
posted by rewil at 9:24 AM on January 5, 2009

Age of Booty from the XBLA. Real Time Strategy game of pirates and booty. Each game is on a small game board and takes about 6-15 minutes to play. Coop and competitive play.

I played a lot of BioShock in 15-30 minute chucks. Boot it up, explore a few rooms, save, and head to work.
posted by yeti at 9:25 AM on January 5, 2009

Are you familiar with the Burnout series? If not, check it out...I have Burnout Revenge and it's a lot of fun to jump in, beat a few missions, and put it down. Burnout Paradise is the latest in the series and there's a demo for it (and possibly Revenge) on the Marketplace.
posted by Diskeater at 9:32 AM on January 5, 2009



Also, seconding Gears/Gears 2 (at least the multiplayer) as a fun short gaming experience. The campaigns are fun too, but are going to take you longer. And if you like Gears, you'll love Left 4 Dead.
posted by longdaysjourney at 9:38 AM on January 5, 2009

I think taking the time to try out Rock Band before buying is a good one. It has a pretty steep buy-in and if you don't like some part of it, the expense will frustrate you.

Or you could end up like me and spend a seemingly endless amount of cash and time on the game. Full RB1 kit? Check. RB2 kit? Check. Cymbals? Check. New bass pedal? Check. Mic stand? Check. Homemade Overdrive Pedal? Yeah. 300+ songs? Oof, yeah. Beat the Tour? Yes. The Endless Setlist? Did it Saturday. Mad Catz Bass? Yep. Seriously considering spending 300$ on a fancy drum kit? If only we were not buying a house.

And so on and so on. But we tend to have people over to play once a month and I play for a few hours a week on average.

If you play and find guitar is more your thing than drum or singing, then I encourage you to pick up Guitar Hero II. It'll be really cheap but is still pretty fun. GHIII went off the rails, which made me stick with Harmonix and give Guitar Hero: World Tour a miss.
posted by robocop is bleeding at 9:40 AM on January 5, 2009

Seconding Rez.
Sid Meier's Pirates is good fun too!
posted by ianK at 9:46 AM on January 5, 2009

Saint's Row 2, while nominally a long-scale sandbox game a la GTA, is absolutely chock full of dozens of minigames, ranging from injury faking in a busy intersection to heli assault missions to gunning down enemy gangs on a drug run to causing civil chaos in a flame-proof firesuit, etc etc etc.

They're all super fun, totally replayable, and easy to get to once you've put a few hours into opening up the game world. (Only a few - the game dishes out the goods pretty quick.)
posted by Aquaman at 9:55 AM on January 5, 2009

Castle Crashers is way fun.

Settlers of Catan is a great implementation of the boardgame, with a good AI and online play. There's also a version of Carcassone, though I haven't tried it.
posted by mkultra at 10:21 AM on January 5, 2009

Sites like MetaCritic are awesome for finding this kind of thing.
posted by blue_beetle at 10:25 AM on January 5, 2009

I haven't played the Xbox version, just the old PS2 one, but I must recommend Culdcept Saga. It's kind of a geeky niche game, but it's awesome. Picture Magic the Gathering crossbred with Monopoly. Perfection. For me, at least.

The ability to play Culdcept online would be one of the few things that could persuade me to get an Xbox. However, I got the PS3, so my die has been cast.
posted by yellowbinder at 10:26 AM on January 5, 2009

posted by speedo at 10:35 AM on January 5, 2009

There's also a version of Carcassone, though I haven't tried it.

I have. It's pretty good and has helped my kitchen-table play immensely.
posted by robocop is bleeding at 11:15 AM on January 5, 2009

Civilization Revolution does a fine job of boiling the Civ experience into short and fun sessions.
posted by aldurtregi at 11:33 AM on January 5, 2009

Beautiful Katamari, if you're not sick of the Katamari formula yet (I'm not)... Boom Boom Rocket is a great little (10 songs) XBLA rhythm game.

For what it's worth, if you have a Circuit City nearby, the orange box is only $15 this week.
posted by bookwo3107 at 11:46 AM on January 5, 2009

Katamari is definitely the win.
posted by arimathea at 12:47 PM on January 5, 2009

If you like simple puzzle games, I've gotten a stupid amount of pleasure out of Zuma.
posted by faunafrailty at 12:49 PM on January 5, 2009

I'm going to have to go against the popular opinion on Rock Band being a great 15-minute game, but it may be due to differing circumstances. I live in a big-enough-for-husband-and-wife-but-still-relatively-small apartment, and the X360 resides in the living room. Because of that, all RB equipment must be put away when not in use. For me, it's just not worth dragging even the guitar or microphone out and messing with the cords(have the wireless drums, but they still have to be dragged out) unless I can devote at least a full hour to the game. If your living space will allow you to not have to fiddle about getting everything out and putting it away again, then it may be a good pick-up game for you.
posted by owtytrof at 1:33 PM on January 5, 2009 [1 favorite]

Carcassone is great. i love ticket to ride for another board game to xbla experience. for a good co-op game i like lego star wars (buy the deluxe version with all 6 episodes). i've played the demo of castle crashers and plan to get the whole game soon. portal is good, although it makes me dizzy.

save zuma for the PC. less frustrating and more rewarding. although i still can't get past fucking level 9.
posted by nadawi at 10:45 PM on January 5, 2009

Response by poster: Already have the Orange Box on order, though I think of it overall as more of a "traditional" rather than casual gaming experience. Looks like a lot of goodness in XBLA, though the browsing/search experience is mediocre at best, hence why this thread has been so helpful. Already got the "hardcopy" versions of Catan, Carcassone and Ticket To Ride, which reminds me I need to throw another board game night..

Thanks all! I'm gonna get me some Microsoft Points and start the downloading..
posted by kanuck at 2:52 PM on January 7, 2009

with carcassone in specific, i find the xbla version great for the simple fact of not having to do all the damn setting up and counting yourself. catan, personally, is better as the table top but still damn fun on xbla. i've played more hours of ticket to ride than i'd like to admit in public. i need to start playing online.
posted by nadawi at 12:48 PM on January 12, 2009

Great topic. I'm getting started in that area also. Peggle and Rez are great, but Mr. Driller Online was a bad purchase. XBLA Mr. Driller is not as good as the Dreamcast version.

I also like the demo of Go! Go! Break-Steady, which has a style like Jet Grind Radio, but is a rhythm game combined with Zuma. 3-on-3 NHL looks good, also, and I'm impressed so far with Wik: Fable of Souls. I love that you can just get a bunch of demos. Here are some more I have on deck: Bionic Commando: Rearmed, Poker Smash, Mad Tracks, Arkanoid Live, and Boom Boom Rocket.
posted by irv4oh at 8:45 AM on June 5, 2009

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