It's probably just as well there's a Royal Wedding going on right now, if only to drown out the media hubbub surrounding Sony's monumental PSN security breach.
Whatever the ugly truth of the issue, one thing is certain: the credibility of the whole download sector has been incalculably damaged by such a high-profile and significant intrusion. Across the board, an already nervous public is going to be increasingly wary of surrendering personal information to third parties – just at the point where it seemed like digital services had gained the public's confidence.
We all assume that protecting customer data is the absolute number one priority. Witnessing the scale of the problems at Sony instantly makes everyone question all the other companies that we routinely entrust our precious information with. Are they just as vulnerable? How can we ever be sure?
If anything good is to come out of all this, it's that it acts as a massive wake-up call to the world of e-commerce. How it goes about restoring this loss of confidence is another matter.
Meanwhile, here are some games you can buy with your credit card.
The Next BIG Thing
- PC & Mac, Steam - £29.99
Hands up who remembers Hollywood Monsters? Anyone? No, me neither. Unless you're a Spanish speaker who lives, breathes and sweats point-and-click adventures, the chances are that this obscure 1997 PC title slipped through your net.
But for the committed souls who have spent the last 14 years praying for a follow-up, your time has come. Pendulo Studios once again focuses on what would happen if horror movies' monsters were played by real monsters, withhilarious consequences.
Well, sort of. Let's not kid ourselves that The Next BIG Thing is fit to lace the boots of the genre's finest, but it's a pleasant, feelgood romp that knows when to drop in the odd barbed quip or brainteaser.
As with the original, the game focuses on two warring journos who are sent to cover an event held at a big mansion. In true adventure game style, nothing quite goes to plan, and the game contrives to throw up a bunch of roadblocks that inevitably require you to talk to everyone, scan for hotspots, pick up everything that's not nailed down, and combine objects to fashion new ones. No surprises there, then.
But although the gameplay never reaches beyond the formulaic structure, Pendulo has gone further than anyone in trying to emulate the lavish hand-drawn style of an animated movie. The results are never less than hugely impressive, and the production values are certainly leagues ahead of most of Telltale's comparatively budget offerings. If only the quality of the writing matched up.
For the most part, you're left plodding and prodding around a series of mildly engaging scenarios, wishing that a spark of wry creative genius could just kick it up a notch. As it is, the adventure diehards will appreciate The Next BIG Thing, but we all know how good this genre can be. This is another that falls just short.
City of Secrets
- Mac App Store - £2.99. Free Lite version available.
- Also available on iPad - £2.99 and iPhone - £0.59.
If nothing else, doing these roundups every week will improve your knowledge of the nether regions of the adventure scene. And look! Here's one about a mole on a quest to save a dog!
Like all those wistfully remembered adventures down the decades, City Of Secrets looks like it has all the ingredients you want: a nice line in a nonsensical storyline, crackpot characters, decent animation, lovingly crafted locations, an intuitive interface and wry dialogue a-plenty.
Unfortunately, it also features some of the things that remind us why adventure games fell out of the mainstream, with tedious fetch quests, aggravating scenarios and a spirit-crushing trash-sorting mini-game conspiring to gradually strip the joy out of it all.
On a good day, Aidem Media gets a high five for an often entertaining slice of comic-book fun. On a bad day like today, though, it gets a bunch of fives for conspiring to ruin something so promising.
Go Series: Tower Of Deus
- DSiWare - 200 DSiWare Points (£1.80)
We've already endured the chaos of 10 Second Run this year. I'm not sure it's strictly healthy for Game Bridge to keeping coaxing the rage gland like this.
If you actively enjoy heart-attack platforming at its most stressful, then be my guest. There are 40 levels of anger mismanagement to overcome in Tower of Deus, where the only goal is to get to the end before you keel over and die – that's you and the anonymous-looking dude you're controlling.
Your ascent to the top of each tower starts off fairly innocuously, of course. It's like a My First Platformer, where the game even considerately points out the perils of slippery floors and crumbling footholds. Bless.
But after luring you into its mildly engaging trap, it proceeds to kerb-stomp you time and time again like an incandescent Jack Bauer after a parking violation.
With every level come more time-sapping hazards and vicious geometry, and a perverse determination to not give in to a game that looks so horribly amateurish. What keeps me going? Creeping insanity? Nothing better to do? The masturbating lead character? Who knows.
- Xbox Live Arcade - 400 Microsoft Points
- All proceeds go to the Japanese Red Cross
There's certainly no shortage of aggravating Japanese platform games this week, as Cave becomes the latest to ensure the proliferation of inventive new swear words during your time with its game.
And just like Tower Of Deus, Nin2-Jump (as in Nin-Nin Jump) starts off delightfully benign and lures us in with its charming shadow-puppet premise.
Played out in front of an audience, an unseen hand guides a ninja on a stick across a series of simple two-dimensional environments, scooping up the required objects before diving into the level exit.
And so it goes, with a progressively more taxing run of levels demanding jumps of maximum precision and canny switch manipulation. Faff around too much, and you'll find yourself inexorably pursued, Bubble Bobble-style, by a Silent Hill escapee who will kill you to death if you don't get a shift on.
Eventually you'll get to smash up Mount Fuji or some other vengeful boss creature, and the whole thing cranks up a notch in a thinly disguised attempt to make you go prematurely grey. More complicated levels! Evil spiky hazards! Difficult-to-reach collectibles! Still, this is Cave we're talking about - the masters of Stress Gaming. What did you expect?
Trouble Witches Neo!
- Xbox Live Arcade - 800 Microsoft Points.
Oh Japan. There's been some demented anime in recent years, but has any of it been quite so unwaveringly pink and simpering as this surreal serving of side-scrolling bullet hell?
Described by the folk at SNK Playmore as "a game for shooting lunatics," it features ten "cute" (their words) maid-witches who barrel through the air (riding giant keys and such) shooting waves of magic bullets, while dodging a curtain of certain death. You can even use a magic barrier and turn bullets into GOLD. Imagine.
Neat novelties aside, of course, it's just another violent carnival of death. It's a familiar journey into wave upon wave of bullets. Big old bastard boss with obvious weakspot. Duck and weave and squeak through by the skin of your nasal hair or perish in eternal sadness. We've all played them, and you'll either revel in their restless spitefulness or crawl off back to your checkpoints and recharging health.
Beneath its fancy dress, this one's no different in that respect, so it resorts to weirding you out with its mid-level Pumpkin upgrade shop, with the most subservient maid voice ever uttered. If you can deal with the doe-eyed overload, then you'll also enjoy having the screen crammed with as many uncomplimentary bright-coloured enemies as possible. When SNK later comes out and admits that Trouble Witches Neo was designed as a social experiment, no-one should be surprised.
Amidst the unremitting chaos, there's something fractured to admire in Trouble Witches Neo, especially if you can drag a friend into some co-operative mayhem. At least download the trial, but maybe get into the spirit first by putting on some Elton John shades, wearing a pink wig and wolfing down a big bag of Haribo.