All right -- I admit I have spent more than twenty-five cents on the games I am about to mention. Call me the master of hyperbole, except for the fact that the title is already taken.
Xbox Live's Community Games section is, for lack of a better way to put it, a tangled mess. Apart from checking out a couple of 'hot list' groups, one has to do a metric truckload of careful reading and demoing to find the gems. Frankly, I think panning for gold has a higher rate of return -- and not simply because one is spending money while the other is (potentially) earning it.
We bought a puzzle game called Poker Squares not long after the Community Games feature launched, and we picked up Ye Olde Dice Game to avoid pulling out actual dice if we want to play Yahtzee. I bought the first part of the three-dimensional adventure game Mind's Eye of Jupiter, and while there was a good bit more repetitive grid searching than I anticipated, I am okay with the two and a half dollars I spent on the game.
That same night, I also purchased Light's End, which has one of the more intriguing premises of my recent gaming experiences. Microsoft classifies it as roleplaying, but while its graphics hearken to classics like the NES Final Fantasy or Chrono Trigger, its focus on shifting playable characters and apparent lack of combat stand in defiance of that description. The absence of puzzles (apart from figuring out who needs to talk to whom) stands in contrast to the traditions of the adventure game genre, so what remains? The title's website describes itself as story-driven, and I think that is the best place to put it. Light's End takes the idea of interactive fiction past the borders of Hotel Dusk - Room 215 and the Phoenix Wright series. By the way, go find Hotel Dusk if you have yet to play it. I can wait.
I downloaded the trial of Kodu Game Lab to experiment. I have no great aspirations of game design, but an idea or two has floated through my head, and this might give me a way to put them into virtual form without spending two years refreshing my C++ skills.
Game well, and may your expeditions be free of claim-jumpers.