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One of the best Xbox Live Arcade games is Steam right now

Sam Cawley

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One of the best Xbox Live Arcade games is Steam right now

Featured Image Credit: DigitalDNA Games LLC

Steam is a treasure trove of games, past and present, meaning there’s always something new to play provided you know where to look.

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These could be the latest AAA offerings like Helldivers 2 and Palworld, a batch of free indie games, or older titles you fancy revisiting. Speaking of old titles, Steam also features several games that made their debut on the Xbox Live Arcade, a digital store for the Xbox 360 that’s since been discontinued but is remembered fondly for its many hidden gems, one of which is CastleMiner Z.

Take a look at CastleMiner Z below

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If you’ve never played or even heard of CastleMiner Z let me assure you, you’re missing out. The best way to describe it is Minecraft but with guns, which doesn’t sound as wild now as it did back then, especially with games like Palworld taking well-known formulas and spicing them up with firearms.

CastleMiner Z was part of the Xbox Live Indie line-up, and you could get the full game for a mere £5. Don’t let its cheap price tag fool you though, it was a fantastic game and well-worth a visit nowadays on Steam, especially since it’s still the exact same price as it was years ago.

Like Minecraft, players start their adventure with nothing to their name, in an open world that’s teeming with danger. It begins as your standard zombie-survival affair really, many of which are wandering the overworld and will attack you on sight, becoming even more dangerous at night time. Players will search for supplies, harvest materials and craft whatever they need for the long road ahead, even a base if you fancy hunkering down. Where it differs is you won’t be crafting swords and bows, instead you’ll be able to craft an entire arsenal of weaponry, from handguns, to assault rifles all the way to RPGs, and some even more advanced weapons later down the line. A nice touch that’s unfortunately not present in the Steam version of the game, was you could play as your Xbox Live avatar on the Xbox 360 version. This turned the game into a strange, proto-Fortnite in a way, as Halo spartans, Gears Of War soldiers, Elder Scrolls knights and more could play together and survive, it sounds silly now but at the time that was the closest you could get to those games crossing over outside of fan creations and the odd Xbox advert.

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CastleMiner Z-  Credit: DigitalDNA Games LLC
CastleMiner Z- Credit: DigitalDNA Games LLC

Now as I’m sure veteran players will know, the real goal of the game was to embark on a pilgrimage to “ore world,” also known as “ore city” or just about any other name people had for it. This was essentially an endgame location you end up in after travelling a certain distance, filled with some of the most dangerous enemies in the game, but also some of its shiniest rewards. As the name implies you could find all of the game’s ores in this area, including the rare diamonds, which were abundant in this part of the map. Collecting the precious materials would allow you to craft laser guns, which were the strongest weapons in the game and absolutely essential for surviving that far in. I mentioned how the zombies were the enemy type in the game, but they’re also easy pickings for the majority of players. The real challenge lies in fighting off dragons and demons, slightly more rare enemy types but way more powerful. If you died all the way in ore world you’d be sent right back to spawn, and there wouldn’t be an easy way to get your stuff back if you didn’t know exactly where you perished.

CastleMiner Z-  Credit: DigitalDNA Games LLC
CastleMiner Z- Credit: DigitalDNA Games LLC
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I used to play CastleMiner Z with my friend group at the time, and we’d spend hours building up an enormous base with a huge stash of weapons. We’d make up our own storylines, missions to complete and generally tried to survive as long as we could, which quickly became a challenge once you started running out of ammunition.

It was a lot of fun then and it’ll be just as fun now, especially since the Steam version has added more content to the game since its Xbox Live debut.

While it’s obviously not up to the standard of a AAA release, it’s really not trying to be. The graphics are pretty dated and the gameplay loop isn’t as exciting as other survival games currently on the market, but what CastleMiner Z always excelled at was lighthearted fun with a group. It’d be a great game to play nowadays if you just want to talk about life with your friends whilst blasting dragons with laser guns, and even years and years after its initial Steam release it still has a very positive rating on the platform. You can grab the game for around £5, and you can buy four keys for the game for £10 if you plan on playing the game with friends, which is great value.

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CastleMiner Z-  Credit: DigitalDNA Games LLC
CastleMiner Z- Credit: DigitalDNA Games LLC

It’s just a shame it’s now only available on PC. You’d hope given how it was one of the most popular games on the Xbox Live Arcade that a port could be made for the Xbox Series X/S , and maybe one day it will. Bringing it back to Microsoft’s platform and giving players the chance to use their Xbox avatars again would be a major blast of nostalgia for a lot of people. It’d also be worth bringing it to the PlayStation 5 too, perhaps even getting some crossplay servers going so everyone can play at the same time.

All in all CastleMiner Z is worth a go for just about anyone, and you’d be a fool to not give it a try when it’s so cheap on Steam. Get a few game keys for yourself and some friends and load up a survival world, it’ll be fun I promise.

Topics: Xbox, Xbox Series S, Xbox Series X, Microsoft, Steam, PC

Sam Cawley
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