It's interesting to observe the tactics of Sony and Microsoft in promoting their respective motion gaming technology. While Microsoft tries to position Kinect as something akin to a full console launch, Sony has taken an altogether less aggressive stance.
It shows in the games released to date, with Sony happy to utilise numerous cheaper downloadable PSN titles to showcase its Move tech, games like Tumble, Flight Control, Beat Sketchers, Funky Lab Rat, Deadstorm Pirates, and, shortly, Echochrome II all proving to be highly entertaining.
But there's a complete lack of Xbox Live Arcade titles using Kinect. Has Microsoft deliberately ring-fenced the launch period for boxed games only, or are developers simply less inclined, at this early stage, to commit?
- PSN - £7.99
'Tis the season to be lardy, ommy nommy nom, nom nom nom nom. And getting into the spirit of intense festive gluttony, Bristol's own FluffyLogic lets us imagine that we're smashing up the Christmas High Street and chowing down on the moronic procession of zombie shoppers.
At least, that's how this gleefully chaotic monster-stomper played out in my head after an afternoon of being manhandled down Oxford Circus. The reality is rather less likely to get them on the front page of the Daily OMG, sadly.
Played out in a beautifully intricate comic-book style, Eat Them lets you use one of the ready-made monsters to smash up the sins of urban life or set about fashioning your own creature of the damned.
Unlocking all the new parts, though, involves steadily earning them from good performances in each of the mini-missions on offer. These test your levels of destructive resourcefulness within strict time limits.
Spiritually similar to Midway's eighties arcade classic Rampage, the idea is to continually smash up as many buildings as you can, while also keeping one eye on your vitality meter. Scoop up fleeing humans as you go and your energy tops up, but with the police and the military determined to spoil your fun, it's a tough balancing act.
Sometimes the formula twists slightly, with the task focusing on, for example, helping prisoners bust out of prison or a simple checkpoint race. For the most part, mind you, it's smashing for smashing's sake, and therefore entertaining in short bursts, but a bit mindlessly intense over the long haul.
Give me any excuse to look like a futuristic knob jockey and I'll grasp it with both hands. Sure enough, this 3D-ified, Move-enabled edition of PC indie darling Auditorium services my needs admirably.
If, like me, you missed out the first time around, an explanation of Cipher Prime's high concept 'music puzzler' is definitely in order.
The idea is to try to reconstruct all the tracks of a song by directing and reflecting coloured soundwaves to the appropriate receptacle. On each 'level' you have a source everything flows from, and by carefully placing discs around the place, you can influence where this flow ends up.
At first, it's all very simple and intuitive. Each disc has a directional arrow on it, and directing the flow correctly involves little more than basic trial and error. But once the game starts increasing the number of discs in play and the number of coloured meters to fill up, this initially calming affair starts showing its teeth.
Unfortunately, therein lies the problem. With its strict linearity preventing you from trying out songs in the order of your choosing, it's a little too easy to get snagged on one in particular. Without even basic hints on offer, you can end up faffing around to no effect for ages.
Still, if you've got the spatial aptitude for it, Auditorium is a swoonsome way to show off wand-waving 3D to your confused house guests.
Asteroids Do Concern Me
- Xbox Live Indie Games - 80 Microsoft Points (£0.64)
Every lazy desk jockey in the world has doubtless ploughed countless unblinking hours into the time void that is the Helicopter Game. Well, guess what? Those years of stern-faced practice needn't go to waste, and you can finally show the world your finely honed one-button gaming skills.
Released as part of the thoroughly commendable Indie Game Winter Uprising season, Evil Robot Logic's game insists that facing an endless procession of asteroids should not prove to be a concern.
But it would be wrong, obviously, because avoiding these gigantic rocks proves to be an exacting task, with gravity constantly tugging you towards imminent one-hit death. With only a thruster saving you from certain doom, you must constantly judge how much gas to apply. Overcook it by the merest fraction and you'll either smack into the ceiling or snag the nearest boulder hurtling towards you.
So, there's nothing to it, fair enough, but that doesn't stop it from being one of the most infuriatingly addictive Xbox Indie games around. It even tries to offer a smidgen of extra value by allowing you to toggle the backgrounds, including the amusing-but-eye-gouging Double Rainbow mode, complete with flying unicorns but sadly not featuring commentary from everyone's favourite acid casualty Now that would have made it a must buy. As it is, it's merely disproportionately addictive throwaway nonsense.
Bomberman Live: Battlefest
- Xbox Live Arcade - 800 Microsoft Points (£6.80)
- PSN - £7.99
- WiiWare - 1000 WiiWare Points (£7.00)
For a series boasting more than 80 variants, the chances are that you'll know whether or not you like Bomberman's maze-based bombfest by now. For me, extended sessions are more like ritual humiliation than entertainment, but that's largely down to how much I suck at it.
Completely un-shockingly, this follow-up to the 2007 release doesn't tinker with the classic formula too much, adding a few new rather superfluous new modes, collectibles and features for the die-hard followers to enjoy.
For the uninitiated, it's a formula that hasn't dated a jot. It's still the same chaotic game it ever was, where you try to snag your opponents in your blast radius before they do the same to you. Part luck, part judgement, it's almost sickeningly compulsive; despite being perpetually tormented, you'll always come back for more.
Some might consider this feature-laden edition to be the ultimate version – that is, if you value the ability to play with your Avatar (on the XBLA version, at least) or like the idea of team play modes like Capture The Flag and VIP. Some might also get off on new costumes or the new cluster bombs or laser bombs, but I'd wager that they probably need to get out a bit more.
The truth is that Hudson's perennial classic is still best played in its original form without the associated fluff, so if you've held out for the last 27 years, perhaps it's time you succumbed to being continually blown into little chunks by your friends.
- PSN - £7.99
If only Sony Japan had roped in Rolf Harris for this one. The hyperventilating cuddly Aussie certainly knew how to combine music and marker pens to memorable effect, but I guess he didn't really crack the lucrative Asian market. Sad times.
While we ponder the future of Rolf-based videogames, this latest downloadable Move effort gets on with the important business of showcasing the creative flexibility of Sony's glowing wand.
Playable over a range of modes, the most engaging from a gameplay perspective is undoubtedly the 12-stage Challenge Mode, where the idea is to try to paint over sections of a template in time to the music. The more accurate your painting, the better the score.
Beyond that, much throwaway fun awaits. Paint challenge tasks you with trying to paint as much of the screen as possible within a time limit, while Line challenge involves drawing as long a line as possible within 15 seconds without touching the sides of the screen or the line itself. Meanwhile, in the join-the-dots Rainbow challenge you must dodge the various shapes littering the screen.
In terms of multiplayer, Theme Battle gives you 30 seconds to show how bad you are at drawing, while Four-Frame Relay gives you a chance to create your own comic strips and upload them to Facebook.
For those with infinite patience and actual artistic skill, then Creation Mode might offer some entertainment, giving you the chance to show off your talents, or, more likely, import pictures to daub obscenities over.
Beat Sketcher, then. A classic case of 'fun with tech demos'. Can you guess what the score is yet?