Best Console Video Games Enjoyable in One Hour
March 10, 2011 12:25 PM   Subscribe

What are the best recent console video games that can be enjoyed in an hour or less? I'll be at PAX East this weekend, and since I don't own a console newer than a Gamecube, I'd like to spend some time at the Console Freeplay. They have a library of dozens of modern consoles and thousands of games that you can borrow for an hour at a time. Lots of the big games require at least a few hours to get anywhere in the story. What doesn't? What are the best casual or semi-casual games from this generation that I can enjoy in an hour?

Any genre. Any console. I'll probably be with some friends so multi-player games might be better than single-player, but I'm open to both.
posted by Plutor to Sports, Hobbies, & Recreation (22 answers total) 7 users marked this as a favorite
By "any console" I mean in the most recent generation: XBox 360, Playstation 3, Wii.
posted by Plutor at 12:26 PM on March 10, 2011

Boom Blox for the Wii. It's best multiplayer.
posted by fairytale of los angeles at 12:32 PM on March 10, 2011 [1 favorite]

The first hour of Bioshock is one of the best hours of gaming this generation.
posted by 2bucksplus at 12:32 PM on March 10, 2011

(available on Xbox 360 or PS3)
posted by 2bucksplus at 12:32 PM on March 10, 2011

Portal, obviously.
posted by BitterOldPunk at 12:36 PM on March 10, 2011

Extra points for games that aren't available on PC. I've played Portal like seven hundred times. I've also played Bioshock.
posted by Plutor at 12:42 PM on March 10, 2011

an hour of katamari would be a blast.

if any XBLA, WiiWare, or PSN titles are available there would be a lot to do there in an hour.
posted by nadawi at 12:42 PM on March 10, 2011

Last year, the consoles weren't hooked up to the Internet. Not sure about this year, but I'd be kinda surprised.
posted by Plutor at 12:47 PM on March 10, 2011

I bet you could definitely enjoy an hour of ilomilo. It's a quirky puzzler, and cute to boot. Works well single player or local co-op, FWIW.

AFAIK, that one is exclusive to the 360, and Windows 7 phones.
posted by mrhaydel at 12:50 PM on March 10, 2011 [1 favorite]

Wario Ware.
posted by ignignokt at 12:50 PM on March 10, 2011

Drats, kinda forgot that ilomilo is XBLA. My bad.
posted by mrhaydel at 12:51 PM on March 10, 2011

Also, one hour's worth of LittleBigPlanet or LittleBigPlanet 2 would be enjoyable on all accounts.
posted by mrhaydel at 12:52 PM on March 10, 2011 [1 favorite]

The level design in Super Mario Galaxy and Super Mario Galaxy 2 are just plane fun and innovative (e.g. being able to walk completely around a spheric planet or planets that have shifting gravitational forces). You won't get very far into the story, but then again no one plays Mario games for the story.
posted by mmascolino at 1:17 PM on March 10, 2011 [1 favorite]

Lack of XBLA/PSN is killer - lots of gems there that fit nicely into your time span. I think your desire for "casual" experiences is going to be at odds with wanting console-only experiences. Most of the casual stuff that's good makes it to the PC pretty rapidly these days or is XBLA/PSN exclusive. Plus, all the really interesting design work is on XBLA and PSN. Full price titles are (in my experience) rarely as compelling, particularly judging by a $/interesting experiences ratio. So maybe this is not particularly useful, but I skimmed through a list of recent-ish releases and pulled out stuff that might give you a decent short-timeframe-experience.

I liked Halo:ODST and think it's worth playing a half hour of just to see a moderately different approach to the genre. Such a stagnant design space in general, but ODST does some interesting things that will pretty quickly become apparent. Wouldn't say the same about Reach, though.

If they have Bulletstorm, that would probably be a useful experience for similar reasons (although reviews tend to suggest that it doesn't necessarily blossom until you spend more time with it).

Brutal Legend is worth a look. I thought the demo was super excellent, and I forget how good the next 30 minutes of play are. But that's distinctly console and Different.

Fable 3, maybe? Like all RPGs, though, it starts too slow to really get that much out of it.

Oh - perhaps try out Alan Wake or Heavy Rain? I haven't played either, but my impression is that both attempt to do storytelling in an unusual way. Obviously not going to get much of the overall story, but might be illustrative.

If you haven't played anything from the God of War series, it's worth spending some time with one of them. I've only played the first, but it's definitely genre-defining and interesting.

Little Big Planet (mentioned above) is a great suggestion. Probably the most casual of the kind of games you'll find in their library, plus it's multiplayer. XBLA games tend to have great local multiplayer options too, but it's much rarer in the world of AAA console games.
posted by heresiarch at 2:44 PM on March 10, 2011

You Don't Know Jack has just been released for the current lineup of consoles, and is The. Best. Game. Ever. (aside from maybe Rock Band)

It is hilarious, designed for multiplayer, and each round is about 10-15 minutes.

If they have it, and you don't play it, than you will make puppies cry.
posted by markblasco at 3:36 PM on March 10, 2011

Marvel vs Capcom 3 (came out last month), if they have it, and if not then Marvel vs Capcom 2. Easy way to blow an hour and just have sheer, unadulterated fun!

Rayman Raving Rabbids "shake your booty" minigames if you want to dance and look like a fool doing it.
posted by misha at 3:57 PM on March 10, 2011

The combat in Bayonetta is so much fun that it can be enjoyed in an hour. Hell you could do a whole stage in that time

Ditto riding the range in Red Dead Redemption and shooting some animals
posted by Lovecraft In Brooklyn at 4:11 PM on March 10, 2011

Halo too. 5 minutes of Halo 3 sold me on an XBox

Gears of War is supposed to be amazing mechanically. Crackdown, though you need to upgrade your jumping first
posted by Lovecraft In Brooklyn at 4:14 PM on March 10, 2011

I've also heard good things about the latest Donkey Kong Country game for the Wii. I bet that would be a good one that works well for short play spurts.

Nthing Super Mario Galaxy and Super Mario Galaxy too.

Red Dead Redemption is a great suggestion as well.
posted by mrhaydel at 5:05 AM on March 11, 2011

The recently-released Bulletstorm is fun and quick play.

I would disregard the Red Dead Redemption suggestions here if you're only going to have an hour or so to play. The first hour is a lot of "tutorial" and not a lot of action. Gorgeous to look at, but not a lot of fun for pick-up-and-play.
posted by kuanes at 5:39 AM on March 11, 2011

If they have unreleased titles available, look out for Earth Defense Force: Insect Armageddon. It's not by the developers of the original series but it may still be good nevertheless, and as long as you're used to dual-analogue third-person shooter control schemes it's as pick-up-and-play as it gets.
posted by Bangaioh at 6:30 AM on March 12, 2011

Thanks for all the suggestions.

I ended up spending more time with Little Big Planet 2 than I really expected (although I wish there were a skip-the-cut-scenes mode). And had a hell of a good time on the Kinect. You Don't Know Jack was awesome as well (although we should have done it when the room was less packed and therefore the hilarious dialogue would have been audible). And then this morning I sat down and played Split/Second for like 2 hours before the place got busy. That has exactly the right amount of realism and complexity for a race game.
posted by Plutor at 6:08 PM on March 13, 2011

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