Game of the Week

No country for old monkeys.

Here's what we were picking from: Out This Week.

This is a momentous week for European gamers. Two years after its release as a DS game in the US, four since it saw the light of day in Japan and over 12 since the series was first conceived... Air Traffic Controller arrives on our shores!

You may remember it as Air Traffic Chaos, the game which almost ruined Christmas for me two years ago. "Air Traffic Chaos is... a basic, bizarrely unglamorous, stern and unloving mistress that you just cannot bring yourself to leave, to stop wanting to please," I wrote back then.

"The extras, options, and number of stages are a slap in the face, the rewards pitiful and the pain great, but you won't care; and you'll spend dozens of hours compulsively playing it, more than you will many other more lavish and entertaining DS games. I struggled for a long time to come up with a reason for this, but it might be as simple as this: Air Traffic Chaos is, basically, terribly, perfect."

Perhaps it would go down better as a 59p iPhone game than a 25 cart, but gaming masochists everywhere (and we all secretly like a little punishment now and then, don't we?) should buy this ridiculously compelling and exquisitely tuned game anyway.

Also showing up late in Europe, albeit only by a few months, is the expansion to the thinking man's 2D fighter, BlazBlue: Continuum Shift. Matt rates it, and there's nothing he doesn't know about this stuff.

The other trend this week is for retro compilations, which we're all for, as long as they treat the source material with care. Prince of Persia Trilogy was a disappointment, not so the lavish and excessively charming Sly Collection, which has the added benefit of featuring overlooked classics you might have missed. Rectify that straight away.

Super Mario All-Stars 25th Anniversary is more of a known quantity and its component parts are already available for download, but that's no reason not to celebrate these foundation stones of the medium. "The best ever packaging (in my opinion), the best ever advert, with its depiction of an entire planet craving the return of its dungareed hero, and the best ever incidence of product placement in a Fred Savage movie," noted Christian with appropriate solemnity about Super Mario Bros. 3.

All in all, considering it's the first week of December and the Christmas release rush is officially over, there are lots of great, albeit slightly old, videogames to buy in the shops this week. And one of these old games is also brand new.

Donkey Kong Country Returns

It has been a great year for the 2D platformer a genre that was missing, presumed dead just a few years ago. The rise of the download game saved a dying art, with brilliant indie crossovers Super Meat Boy and Limbo exploring its creative extremes, as well as saving a dying character with the last-gasp revivalism of Sonic 4.

Nintendo's history of Donkey Kong

Nintendo's got the characters, the confidence and the pedigree to slap these games in a box and ask full price for them, and we're not going to argue nor, going by the evergreen sales of the two New Super Mario Bros. games, is the buying public. Resuscitating Rare's Donkey Kong Country SNES games was the task it set Metroid Prime studio Retro, and in a word, they nailed it.

"It's so reminiscent of the original titles you can almost forget this credit crunch nonsense ever happened, and pretend you still live in a world where going to the shops on Sunday is a novelty, saying 'Psyche!' is acceptable and a long and successful career lies ahead for Chaka Demus & Pliers," said Ellie 'did I mention I got 101% on the original' Gibson, awarding a 9. "The illusion would be complete if Cranky Kong didn't look so much like Vince Cable."

Too much nostalgia this week? Maybe, but old games and old genres shouldn't have to die, and gaming needs to stop trying to bury its past or it'll end up in therapy. Let's hear it for the good old days.

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