One of the surprisingly addictive and great features of the Xbox 360 has been Xbox Live Arcade, Microsoft's download service that lets you purchase smaller, digitally distributed games direct from your console. A handful of these games have been updated versions of arcade classics, but there are plenty of interesting original games, as well. Unfortunately for those of you without any sort of broadband Internet connection, there hasn't been any other way to get these games. But to address this, Microsoft has released six Xbox Live Arcade games on a disc under the name Xbox Live Arcade Unplugged Volume 1. It's a good collection for two types of people. If you don't have an Internet connection (and if you don't, how are you reading this review?), this is the only way to get these games. Or, if you have your Xbox hooked up but haven't purchased any of these six games, you can now get all six in one shot at a slight discount.
Of the six games included, the best of the bunch is Geometry Wars: Retro Evolved. This dual-joystick shooter was the game that made the download service make sense, and it's still fantastic. But the package is well-rounded, so if the nerve-wracking action of Geometry Wars isn't your thing, the puzzle game genre is covered by Bejeweled 2. You've also got a puzzle-action hybrid in the form of Wik: Fable of Souls, a few parlor games with Hardwood Backgammon and Texas Hold 'em, and the charming strategy game Outpost Kaloki X. Most of these games work fine in a single-player environment, but without an Xbox Live Gold account, Texas Hold 'em's weak poker artificial intelligence isn't much fun for long, and Hardwood Backgammon is better against another player, as well.
The way the disc works is quite simple. Rather than install the games to your hard drive or memory unit, they run right off of the disc, but the games show up in your list of available Xbox Live Arcade games, just like the downloaded ones do. It's unfortunate that you can't install the games to the hard drive and toss the disc aside, but then that would probably just lead to people passing the disc around.
If you don't own any of these games and you'd like to, this collection is a good way to get them at a bit of a price break. But if you already own one or two of these games, you'd probably be better off cherry-picking games you like off of Xbox Live Marketplace instead of rebuying games you already own.