While it’s always good to be up to date with the latest games, sometimes gaming can be quite a financial burden – with new games costing around £40 a pop, it’s easy to get swamped when trying to keep up with all of the new releases. But for when £40 seems like a little too much, that doesn’t mean you need to stop gaming. There are a number of gems out there, all just waiting to be played for under a tenner. Sure, they’re cheap – but most of them I would consider amongst the best classics out there. So here are my top ten games for under £10
10. Street Fighter Alpha 3 MAX – PSP
Portable fighters are something rarely done well – often watered down from their console counterparts, or tricky to handle. While it’s true that it’s almost always better playing on a console, fighters are good for short bursts of gameplay when on the move. Street Fighter Alpha 3 MAX is a great port of Alpha 3, the 2D graphics working well on the PSP screen, and with a ton of characters it’s easily one of the best fighters on the PSP. Definitely worth being part of any PSP owner’s collection.
Street Fighter Alpha 3 MAX can be found on play.com for £9.99
9. Sonic the Hedgehog Classics - XBLA/PSN
If you haven’t downloaded Sonic 1, 2, 3 or Sonic & Knuckles already, I’d ask why not? If you’ve never even played Sonic, I’d ask where you’ve been for the last couple of decades. Still, there’s no doubt that the Sonic games are timeless classics, and for only 400MSP a pop (240 for Sonic & Knuckles!), they are excellent for low-cost titles, with pick-up and play gameplay, and will keep you coming back for more. The only reason that they’re not higher on my list is that there’s a high chance you’ve already got them.
The Sonic games can be found on XBLA and PSN for around £4 each.
8. Prince of Persia: The Forgotten Sands – Xbox 360, PS3
Who says cheap games have to be downloaded or portable? While XBLA and PSN are brilliant for cheap gaming, that doesn’t mean you can’t get hold of some full games at equally cheap prices. Prince of Persia: The Forgotten Sands returns to the Prince from the PS2 POP games, with his time-manipulating powers - and some new elemental powers to boot. The title’s gameplay delivers, although it’s a little short – however, at a bargain price you’ll still get a decent bang for your buck. A Wii version is also available, but as it is a completely different game I can’t vouch for its quality.
Prince of Persia: The Forgotten Sands can be found on Xbox 360 and PS3 for £9.99 on play.com
7. Pinball FX 2 – XBLA
Zen Studios are a bit misleading with this one, advertising the “Full Game” of Pinball FX 2 as a free download on Xbox Live Arcade. This isn’t strictly true, however, as it’s simply the hub for the Pinball games that you get for free – you can sample a timed version of various pinball tables they have for sale. However, at 200MSP per table, you can easily get a nice selection for less than £10. Unfortunately some of the tables must be bought in a set of four, but there are a decent selection of individual ones up for download (such as Excalibur, and Street Fighter II Tribute). FX2 is an excellent pinball simulator, with great visuals and realistic physics. Even better, each table notifies you of your friends’ scores and challenges you to beat them as you go. Definitely addictive, “just one more go”-type gameplay and it’s easy to expand your collection over time. Since you can test any table before purchasing, you really can’t go wrong as you know exactly what you’re buying.
Pinball FX 2 is available for download on XBLA, with each table at 200MSP or 800MSP for the 4-table collections.
6. StarCraft + Brood War Expansion – PC
I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again – StarCraft is a great RTS. It’s straightforward, addictive, and has plenty to do. With the Terran, Zerg and Protoss races all offering a balanced, yet unique style of gameplay, there’s a lot of fun to be had with the game. StarCraft II has been released recently, but to be honest the original has everything you need, and even better – it’s pretty much guaranteed to run smoothly even on a cheap Netbook. StarCraft is my favourite RTS, and it’s a bargain title, too.
StarCraft (including the Brood War expansion) can be found on both amazon.co.uk and play.com for around £5
5. Brütal Legend – Xbox 360/PS3
Things are really heating up now – we’ve had some awesome titles but it only gets better from here. Brütal Legend (or Brutal for those who don’t want to mess around with strange characters) is truly an epic game. Featuring the talent of Jack Black (and plenty of celebrity musicians including Ozzy), the game is a tongue-in-cheek adventure in a world formed by the essence of metal (and by that, I mean the music type, not girders). The real brilliance of the game comes in the envisioning of the world, the humour, and the soundtrack. While gameplay does consist partly of free-roaming around the excellent landscape in Eddie Riggs’ car and battling opponents, don’t be fooled - it’s not advertised well that the game has some pretty heavy RTS style sections, which involve building up a stage and various metal-related troops to take down the opposing stage. It might not be everyone’s cup of tea – but still, the characterization, the world and the music make this game unforgettable.
Both the PS3 and Xbox 360 versions of Brutal Legend can be found on amazon.co.uk for £9.99
4. Castlevania: Symphony of the Night – XBLA
When I think of Castlevania, Symphony of the Night is perhaps the first that springs to my mind. A platformer/RPG, Symphony of the Night stuck to its 2D roots on the PS1 while most developers turned to 3D titles. Following the vampire Alucard, the game involves exploring Dracula’s vast castle, fighting bosses, collecting weapons, items and relics as you go. With a lot of secrets and items to find, as well as multiple endings, it would take a long time to truly discover everything Symphony of the Night has to offer. Supported by one of the best soundtracks of its time (if not of all time), Castlevania:SOTN is one of the series’ best games.
Castlevania: Symphony of the Night can be found on XBLA for 800MSP
3. Assassin’s Creed II – Xbox 360/PS3
Assassin’s Creed was an average game, and while it can be found for under £10, it’s good points were a little spoiled by repetitive gameplay. However, Assassin’s Creed II took the fun parkour and assassination elements from the original title, and fleshed the game out into a vibrant and enjoyable game. Following Ezio as he trains to become a master assassin, the game gives the player free-roam over several regions of Italy. With a good story, plenty of side quests, new armour and weapons to obtain, and even a small town that you can upgrade, Assassin’s Creed II has lots to do, and would be a must-buy even if it wasn’t available for a measly £9.99.
Assassin’s Creed II: Game of the Year Edition (Xbox 360) can be found on play.com for £9.99. The PS3 version of Assassin’s Creed II can also be found for under £10.
2. Mass Effect – Xbox 360
If you’re looking for a game to keep you busy, Mass Effect may be the one for you. I was initially unsure what to make of the game, but it’s definitely one that grows on you the more you play. A sci-fi RPG with 3rd Person-shooter style combat, Mass Effect gives you the opportunity to take your own crew of humans and aliens into space to fight an enemy that threatens every species in the galaxy. Although I’m not a huge fan of Star-Trek style sci-fi, Mass Effect does a great job at dialogue, with compelling characters and a decent plot. While the game’s main story can be beaten rather quickly, the sheer amount of side-quests available fleshes the game out into something much larger. With dialogue offering different choices, and being given the opportunity to make several important decisions as the game runs it’s course, Mass Effect really gives you the feeling that you are playing through your own storyline. Better yet, the choices you make carry on into Mass Effect 2, which is also a brilliant game (although not quite reaching that under £10 mark just yet).
Mass Effect: Classics Edition can be found on both play.com and amazon.co.uk for £9.99, and includes the Bring Down the Sky DLC.
1. Final Fantasy VII, VIII, or IX – PSN
Final Fantasy games are renowned for being some of the best RPG’s out there – and there’s a reason for that. With good stories, lovable characters and exciting battle systems, the games offer exciting storylines that have a good length, and plenty of things to do on the side. The three PS1 titles, VII, VIII and IX are all available on the PSN store, and better yet, downloading them will allow you to use them on both the PS3 and PSP systems with no extra cost. While they’re definitely worth playing in their own right, the added portability factor really sweetens the deal, making for some of the best portable games money can buy. Which one you get really depends on personal taste – many regard VII as the best in the series, following Cloud’s battle against the psychotic Sephiroth, while I personally prefer the more medieval style of IX, with its lovable characters and mix of humourous and serious content. Either way, all three games are guaranteed to keep you busy for a good 30+ hours at least, and much, much more if you really get into it.
Final Fantasy VII, VIII and IX can be found on PSN for £7.99 each
So there you have it. Got a craving for some gaming but a lack of cash? There’s always something good you can find without having to splash out on something brand new.