- Xbox Live Arcade/PSN - £7.99
- Coming soon to WiiWare and Minis.
The days when jolly circuit racers like Mashed could rub shoulders with the elite in the new release racks are long gone - and more's the pity. But what's perhaps more curious is how few developers have bothered to pick up this baton in the download space; something that makes TNT Racers' unheralded arrival all the more welcome.
Sticking doggedly to the beloved template, you line up with three other racers and blast around a track, trying to leave your opponents for dust via sneaky power-ups, weapons and plain old dirty tricks. Get far enough ahead and you'll knock out your opponents one by one, and scoop the round. So far, so familiar.
But rather than leave players to sit out the round when they get knocked out, the Shadow Race feature allows them to return in ghost form and earn points for whatever mischief they can cause.
Numerous modes also add a smidgen of variety to the mix, but not much. Sometimes you'll want to focus on accumulating points to win the round, other times you'll need to consistently try and get to the front of the pack, while occasional time trials and obstacle course challenges pad out the campaign modes.
Ideally you'd want to play multiplayer, of course, but the lack of any discernible online community makes that a fairly distant prospect right now. More likely, the game will work best in local multiplayer with four players battling their way to supremacy on the sofa. As a homage to past glories, Keen Games has done an admirable job. All you need is a Friday night, some old friends, gallons of beer and a gigantic pizza and the past is yours.
- WiiWare - 500 WiiWare Points (£3.50)
Some games are way more fun than they have any reasonable right to be. Take Peakvox's latest contribution to WiiWare. For a game that looks, for all the world, like an unhinged at-tempt to create the most garish, nauseating pile of eye-vomit the world has ever seen, it's curiously entertaining.
At first, Viral Survival comes across as little more than a hapless Snake knock-off. You move a blob of DNA around a violent orangey-yellow ooze, trying to add as many blobs of DNA to your strand as you can while avoiding the viruses swimming around. Should you so much as brush past the baddies with your head, it's Game Over and a swift reminder of your online score ranking.
The more you play, the more the Pac-Man element comes into play, as you wait patiently for the hypodermic needle pick-up to arrive so that you can turn the tables and gobble up your relentless pursuers in one swift act of retribution. You can also set off homing missiles and buy yourself some time before it all gets completely overwhelming.
Fortunately there's a little more to it than merely Pac-Snake, with five variations on the theme to keep you amused. Progressive mode, for example, ups the stakes by moving you continually, while Zoom 128 tasks you with collecting 128 DNA strands in the quickest possible time. Elsewhere, Horde puts the focus on your ability to nudge homing missiles repeatedly, while the utterly insane Shooter mode fills the playing field with bugs and dares you to hold out for as long as possible.
Despite its throwaway appearance, Viral Survival is probably the only WiiWare game released so far this year that warrants a second glance. That's not saying much, admittedly, but if you've got 500 points knocking about, you could do a lot worse.