It might be enjoying the extra daylight of a full review elsewhere, but it's worth dwelling on the joy of seeing neglected classics like Beyond Good & Evil 'remastered' in HD for the download generation.
Unlike SEGA's bizarrely shoddy treatment of its Dreamcast titles (to date), Ubisoft deserves enormous credit for bothering to cast a backward glance at a title that would have otherwise slunk into retro obscurity. Seeing such an enduring gem of game generate such excitement the second time around makes me wonder what other games from generations gone by warrant a similar second chance - apart from ICO and Shadow Of The Colossus, obviously.
System Shock 2 immediately springs to mind, as does the original Project Zero. Hey, how about Amplitude and Frequency, or Gregory Horror Show? And wouldn't it be nice if Capcom could bring us an HD Resident Evil 4 while we're at it?
Before we get sucked into a vortex of our own wistfulness, here are some new games that you might quite like to play. I did.
It's not usually a good sign when you spend the first five minutes with a PC game messing around with configuration settings. But then the penny dropped: it's supposed to look like it was made by Revolution Software in 1993.
After that little embarrassing oversight, there was something oddly evocative about settling down with Joshua Neumberger's loving homage to adventuring's glory days. Suddenly I'm juggling floppy disks, a pile of (unread) college text books, and I'm entering a dystopian future armed with a fluff-ridden mouse with which to probe my unfamiliar surroundings.
Gemini Rue gets things right from the off by virtue of set piece intrigue, inclement weather, sharp writing and half-decent voice acting. And unlike most modern day point and clickers, it doesn't hold your hand at every opportunity.
Somehow, pacing the rain-drenched planet of Barracus by night without much of a clue what to do didn't matter. I was 20 again, with all the time in the world to figure out what to do with my lock pick and communicator. I wanted to find out about Delta Six, and why he's lost his memory, and how to get him free, and I wondered why more games don't try to rip off Blade Runner.
If you're done with all the remakes, and hanker after an adventure that remembers exactly the way things were, Gemini Rue demands your attention.
- WiiWare - 800 WiiWare points - £5.60 - Trailer
If you expected Commander Video: The Dating Simulator, I wouldn't blame you. But as much as Gaijin Games wanted to break away from making yet more Pong Rhythm Action, the allure of super pixelated hand-jiving funk evidently proved too strong.
Now onto the sixth (and final) dose of Bit.Trip madness, the team has essentially come full circle, with what serves a companion to the original Bit.Trip Beat.
Once again it's all about defending your honour in a world constructed of pixels larger than your own face. Restless formations of these chunky missiles appear from the left hand side of the screen, and it's up to you to swat them back from whence they came in time to a insistent chiptune soundtrack. So far, so similar.
Mastery of your 'paddle' relies on your ability to tilt the Wii Remote to-and-fro with metronomic precision, and such is the exacting nature of this trial by rhythm, you may want to ensure the wrist strap is firmly attached lest you launch the controller at the TV in the full fury of incessant failure.
But as ultra hardcore as Flux remains, concessions have finally been introduced, such as checkpoints, and the ability to select each mission at your leisure. New features such as two player co-op, new power-ups and enemy types also help freshen up a formula that, this far down the line, feels like it has run its course. Still, it was fun while it lasted.
It's not often these days that a game demands your attention almost solely because of the way it looks, but, then again, few platform puzzlers have ever been as unfairly pretty as CreaVures.
Boasting a kind of nocturnal fluorescence last seen in those gobsmacking forest scenes in Avatar, it barely matters that the 15 mildly challenging side-scrolling levels aren't all that engaging. Your visual cortex will be far too busy wallowing in the velvety opulence on show throughout, as you gradually restore life to a dying forest via the magic of precision jumping and kleptomania.
During your adventures, you'll perpetually need to swap between characters to make the most of whatever the environment throws at you. At first, Bitey and Pokey are the stars of the show, with Bitey offering a tail for his pal to climb on, while Pokey can scare off enemies with the spines on his back, and create makeshift ladders into the bargain.
As you work your way through, Zappy, Rolly and Flick add their unique abilities to the mix, and matters gradually get more interesting as you figure out how best to traverse the gorgeous terrain. More often than not, though, the game feels hobbled by irksome jump and swing mechanics, and merely getting around always feels far more of a faff than it probably should.
But if you're of a forgiving nature and want to bathe your eyes in magnificence for a few hours, who are we to judge?
- PSN - $14.99 - Trailer
- EU release late March/early April. Price TBC.
- Coming soon to PC/Mac and PSP.
It's all gone dragony around here all of a sudden. Dragon Age 2 is almost upon us, Dragon's Lair has been (unwisely) ported to PSN for the hopeless nostalgics, How To Train Your Dragon continues to surprise everyone by actually being genuinely good, and now Big Sandwich Games wants us all to fry meddlesome ingrates and steal all their riches. With a dragon.
In what amounts to a gigantic real-time strategy spoiler party, you wait for idiotic humans to collect resources and build villages and castles, and then proceed to swoop down, breathe fire over them, scoop up the winnings and head back to their lair, cackling maniacally.
After a while, the humans start to shore up their defences, and take great pleasure in lining up knights and archers outside. Blunder in carelessly, and you'll end up having to scuttle off back to HQ to heal, and lose your hard-won booty in the process.
So, with score-chasing concerns, (and, later, fellow dragons to compete against) Hoard evolves into a curious strategy-shooter hybrid, when diligent use of power-ups and racking up your multiplier becomes all-important. You also have the delightful option of capturing squealing princesses and holding them to ransom (also present in a dedicated princess ransoming mode), while also roasting any daring thieves that try to make off with your gold. Cheek.
With its immediate sense of fun and slick controls, Hoard hooks you in right from the off - whether in campaign mode or competitive multiplayer - and it's also a formula with a surprising amount of depth. Terrorise a town without laying it to waste, and the populace will actually send you gold for your merciful benevolence. Harsh but fair, just how we like it.
- PSP - £8.79 - Trailer
Are we over Tower Defence yet? No? OK then, well here's another minuscule variation on the overused formula for us to rip apart in the most polite manner we can muster.
This time, we're not fighting zombies, oh no. Or popping balloons. Or even crunching big stompy robots. We're facing an evil sorcerer with apple jelly for brains. Bear with me.
In his desperate desire to raid a castle, he sends gigantic squishy insects and wobbling monsters that, apparently, can be dissuaded from being nasty by firing sweeties in their general direction. You probably know the rest.
So, yeah. You plonk down the appropriate turrets, you hoover up the currency and sloooowly build up a massive arsenal in order to take down the oncoming procession. Absolutely nothing new to see here, but lots of it if you've go the stomach for the fight.
It all looks suitably colourful and jolly, but without a single crumb of a new idea to differentiate it from the seventy four thousand better (and cheaper) TD games waving frantically in your general direction, it's hard to see why you'd pick Castle Rustle out from the crowd. Game Factory has at least distinguished itself by coming up with one of the most forgettable games of the year. Well done, I guess.