Goodness me, children. Will you stop fighting? In the red corner we've got Nintendo claiming that game development is stifled amidst the tens of thousands of cheap downloadable games out there, and in the blue corner we've got those Rovio upstarts claiming that traditional console games are "dying".
I'm fond of food-based comparisons when it comes to the download game revolution, and here we have the downloadable industry marching in like fast-food chains while the snootier established restaurants grumble about the unwelcome competition invading their turf with their inferior offerings. As ever, what succeeds comes down to a clever mix of quality and marketing, so if the respective sides in the market could just get on with making good games and stop needlessly rubbishing their rivals, that'd be just grand.
- Minis - £3.99
- Previously released on iPhone and iPad (as WackyLands Big Boss)
When it comes to the venerable scrolling beat-'em up, context is evidently about nine tenths of the appeal. Were WackyLands Boss just another tale of a heavy-set soul hell-bent on smashing up anything dumb enough to stray into its path, the chances are your eyes would have had a sleepy glaze before the first level was over with. Put me in charge of an entirely customisable boss monster, though, and I'll seemingly play through any amount of repetitive rough-and-tumble nonsense that's asked of me.
At its heart, there's very little to it. You're trudging left to right, either stabbing furiously away with the fast attack or trying the slower but more powerful version. Occasionally you'll try to roll up to your aggressors to avoid their projectiles and unleash one of your rechargeable special attacks, then carry on until the boss battle conclusion.
Like so many of Chillingo's nuggets, it's gaming confectionary – a sort of brief sugar rush that just makes you hungrier. Who can resist new unlockable garbs when every one has some sort of definable impact on your ability to smash things to a bloody pulp? Not me.
By the time you're half a dozen levels in, its casual, throwaway appeal starts to give way to something improbably hardcore. Somehow you start to care more than seems credible. Those upgrades start to matter, and the outcome of the battles becomes less of a foregone conclusion. Damn you Fair Play Labs and your time-thieving ways.
- Mac App Store - £0.59
- Previously released on iPhone and iPad.
There's only so much fun to be had jumping between walls, right? Wrong. Somehow the inherent monotony of smashing yourself repeatedly against brickwork doesn't get in the way of spending literally hours trying to do the same thing over and over again.
For reasons that never come to light, Backflip Studios dares you to guide a little ninja to previously unimaginable heights. Where's he's trying to get to or what he's running from is by the by. All you know is that you might as well jump. Go ahead and jump (jump!).
Standing in the way of your leap-based glory are a bunch of meanies, each specifically placed to send you plunging into the abyss. Some of them can be sliced out of the way by merely jumping at them as you leap across, while others have to be avoided. Such are the challenges that face today's ninjas.
If you manage to slice up three of the same enemy in a row then you'll barrel everything out of the way at super speed and inch towards the elusive high score that much quicker. But trying to avoid enemies while aiming for others is often a risky enterprise, and the game quickly develops into a furious balancing act that gets under your skin.
With four equally enslaving levels to face, Ninjump Deluxe is a sweet surrender of your free time.
Williams Pinball Classics
- PSP - £11.99
- Also available on PS3, Wii, 360
If practice makes perfect, then how does one account for my unfathomable awfulness at anything to do with pinball? [Er, lack of practice? – Ed] Whether real or virtual, my talent for ensuring the ball evades the feeble flap of my defences is unsurpassed, and, with crushing predictability, System 3's 10-strong collection of Williams' finest tables proves that mastery of this curious pastime still eludes me.
Assuming that your luck with the silver ball is better than mine though, Pinball Classics offers theoretically good value for your £11.99 – especially if you're old enough to have played the original tables, mostly released during the 1980s.
Without that encyclopaedic knowledge of the subject matter, though, you're left with a clutch of challenging tables that don't scale down especially well onto the PSP's screen, largely because of resolution limitations. You can flip the screen vertically to make the most of the screen real estate, but even then you'll be peering through the fuzzy visual reproduction to pick out what you're aiming for half the time.
With various other superior versions out there on other formats, hardened pinball veterans are better off getting their score-chasing thrills on systems that can do justice to the subject matter. The ageing PSP just isn't quite up to the task.
- Xbox Indie - 80 Microsoft Points (£0.68)
Whoever said that they don't make 'em like they used to obviously hasn't frequented the Xbox Indie Games channel lately. For those of you who like your RPGs wistful and retro-flavoured, you're positively spoiled for choice.
Bonded Realities tries to win your heart by setting its adventures within the fevered imaginations of a bunch of kids at nursery/daycare. With only a few rubbish toys and a sandpit to keep them occupied, the game quickly transports them (and therefore us) to a land of adorably silly 'monsters' and treasure for the taking.
Of course, it all adds up to a flimsy excuse for some basic turn-based combat from the 16-bit era, but it's no less likeable for its lack of sophistication. It won't stop you spending hours dungeon-crawling to take down the sleeping dragon, and doing your best to level up and gain useful new powers.
With its hand-drawn visual style and feel-good vibe, Red Crest Studio's lo-fi effort gets the thumbs up more out of sheer, effortless charm than anything, but sometime's that's just fine.
- WiiWare - 500 WiiWare Points (£3.50)
- Previously released on iPhone
Steering a thin line through a scrolling cavern while tapping out dubstep beats is the kind of game specifically designed to make you ponder what you're doing with your life.
There you are with your game face on, studiously tilting the Wii remote up or down to make the errant line do its thing, while simultaneously trying to prove to developer Different Cloth that you've still got the groove. It's exactly this kind of abstract nonsense that got us all into this mess in the first place.
We wouldn't blame you for wondering what the point of bringing this much-admired but poor-selling iPhone game to WiiWare. As an example of experimental indie cool, it worked brilliantly, but you'd never imagine devoting precious spare time to it in the comfort of your own living room.
But if you can get over the fact that it's twice the price of the iOS version, Lilt Line is an unexpected treat. The tilt controls lend themselves perfectly to the Wii, while the presence of actual buttons makes the game a far more playable prospect. Cool as it undoubtedly was, having to tap the screen to the beat often threw you off course at inconvenient moments, and there are no such issues here.
With those frustrations eliminated, Lilt Line feels like the finished article on Wii, and for those of you seeking purist pursuits to a backdrop of neighbour-troubling tunes, £3.50 is a small price to pay.