- 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.