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What's next for downloadable games?

Revisit your misspent adolescence with a conversion of the popular side-scrolling 1992 game, "X-Men Arcade."
Revisit your misspent adolescence with a conversion of the popular side-scrolling 1992 game, "X-Men Arcade."
  • Digital game distribution continues to grow, thanks to new titles and smartphone apps
  • "Gemini Rue" is a sci-fi point-and-click adventure set in a dystopian future
  • With its bosses to battle and its puzzles, "Bionic Commando Rearmed 2" is old-school fun

Editor's note: Scott Steinberg is the head of technology and video game consulting firm TechSavvy Global, as well as the founder of GameExec magazine and Game Industry TV. The creator and host of online video series Game Theory, he frequently appears as an on-air technology analyst for ABC, CBS, NBC, FOX and CNN.

(CNN) -- From the Nintendo 3DS's ability to grab titles on demand to the increasing popularity of retail sites like Steam and, downloadable games will be everywhere in 2011.

The days when you had to visit your local store, buy a title and insert a disc into your console to play a game are long gone.

Thanks to new episodic titles ("Back to the Future," "Jurassic Park"), popular indie PC games ("Minecraft," "Recettear") and a growing range of smartphone apps and console-exclusive downloads, digital game distribution continues to grow.

Whether you're playing on your PlayStation 3, Wii, Xbox 360 or mobile handset, here are five new and upcoming titles that exemplify the expanding breadth of what online game downloads have to offer.

"X-Men Arcade" (PlayStation Network/Xbox Live Arcade)

Revisit your misspent adolescence with a conversion of the popular side-scrolling 1992 arcade brawler starring Cyclops, Wolverine, Nightcrawler and other comic book favorites -- before they became movie icons.

High-definition multiplayer cartoon action for up to six players takes top billing, as you use fists, laser beams and super powers to bludgeon Magneto's crew of villains, including Juggernaut, Pyro and The Blob.

"Gemini Rue" (Wadjet Eye Games)

A sci-fi point-and-click adventure set in a dystopian future that's drawn comparison to genre classics like "Beneath a Steel Sky," this retro-futuristic, film noir-flavored tale harkens back to PC gaming's early '90s heyday.

It's available February 24, and anyone who owned an Amiga or IBM-compatible should appreciate its nostalgic pixel graphics and "Blade Runner"-style vibe.

"Full House Poker" (Xbox Live Arcade)

Arriving on the heels of interactive game show "1 vs. 100" comes Microsoft's next multiplayer social gaming experiment, which makes online poker tournaments possible for up to 30 players.

Texas Hold 'Em showdowns, staffed by avatars, can be played for virtual chips, with hidden surprises -- including new tables, decks and outfits to unlock -- and the ability to compete against professional players.

"MotoHeroz" (WiiWare, RedLynx)

Following upon the success of popular speedster "Trials HD," developer RedLynx hopes to bridge the gap between side-scrolling platform hoppers and arcade racing with this candy-colored interactive rally for up to four players.

Offbeat physics set the stage as you compete on more than 100 levels, with daily competitions, online leader boards and, oddly enough, single-player story options. These should provide a ready excuse to put pedal to the metal.

"Bionic Commando Rearmed 2" (PlayStation Network/Xbox Live Arcade)

This game picks up where the last downloadable mix of combat and grappling arm-powered action (and 1988 NES game) left off, adding a jump button, items to equip (love the grenade launcher!) and enhanced graphics.

With puzzles to solve and bosses to battle, it should provide old-school fun for anyone who's ever dreamed of playing a disgruntled cyborg.


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