56 roundups and more than 300 games later, you could say that it's been an eventful nine months since we started to focus more of our attention on the downloadable games arena. But when we kicked things off back in March, little did we know just how many great games would fall into our laps.
And it's not just the high-profile Pac-Man Championship Edition DXs or the Limbos of the world that are up there with the best games released all year. Things like And Yet It Moves and Art Style Light Trax on WiiWare, or Apple Jack, Gravitron360 and Hypership Out Of Control on Xbox Indie, make us glad that we don't always have to rely on the publishing behemoths to get our kicks.
Time Machine: Rogue Pilot
- PSN (PS3) - £5.49 (free trial)
Who is this young Russian lady from the Stone Age? Why is she shaking her head at me with such consistent disdain? For not bothering to do my hair today? How does she know? God-damned spies.
More likely, this bob-cut iron maiden is just fed up with us for indulging in yet another match-three variant with such disproportionate zeal. To be fair, she's probably got a point; Lesta Games' take on the formula is nothing special, and yet there you are, still matching colours until hell freezes over.
It has absolutely nothing to do with either Time Machines or Rogue Pilots, although you do get to shoot. In this case, you try to create lines of three or more by lining up the reticule and modifying its colour to the one required, and then POW, the twin evils of explosive colour matching and point accumulation ensue. You may as well surrender now.
Worse yet, there are more modes than you can shake a perfectly coiffured bob at, including such perennial favourites as time limits and miscellaneous restrictions too numerous and boring to list within the word limit. Trust me on this.
The best part of all this Russian nonsense is the completely random appearance of mid-level interludes where, for no apparent reason, you have to find and shoot the seven objects in the scene that shouldn't be there. Sometimes, just to add to the fun, they look like they ought to be there, so you shoot them anyway.
Don't believe me? Go and download the free trial and "save our world from the great catastrophe". Just don't ponder too long on which catastrophe they're referring to.
- PSN Minis - £3.99
- Also available on iPhone and iPad - £2.99/£3.99
If you're one of those utter weirdos that hankers after watered-down first-person shooters with broken control systems, then we've got just the game for you.
When Gameloft foisted N.O.V.A. onto the unsuspecting iOS crowd a while back, at least you could argue that there was a point to it. It was one of the first games to take advantage of the retina display for a start, and also won bonus novelty points for incorporating gyroscope controls to get around the hideous camera issues that usually come as standard with mobile FPS games.
These features didn't disguise the fact that N.O.V.A. had about as much spark as a depressed eel, but at least you could factor in the price before you booted it out of the nearest window. Releasing it as a Mini merely amplifies its shortcomings tenfold.
For a start, the PSP's lack of a second stick means that we're back to controlling the camera and aiming with the face buttons, and reminding ourselves of how much fun the world was before the DualShock. Gameloft tries manfully to employ some sort of vague auto-aim solution, but you can only do so much.
But even if the controls did work properly, the level design and enemy AI are so stultifyingly generic that it feels like the last 12 years of game design didn't happen. On the plus side, they've taken out the multiplayer mode, so at least we are spared the misery of having to report on yet more life-sapping nonsense.