Dungeons & Dragons: Daggerdale
- Xbox Live Arcade - 1200 Microsoft Points (£10.20).
- PSN - TBA.
You could probably trot out a pretty accurate D&D video game review by plugging the words 'goblins', 'XP', 'barrels', 'attack', 'skeletons', 'button' and 'mashing' into a template.
Yep, all the gang are here, and they're in fine fettle for those of us needing another dose of dungeon-crawling. As usual, you pick your hero from four basic classes (Dwarven Cleric, Elvish Rogue, Halfling Wizard and Human Fighter), and head out to do the bidding of anyone offering a quest - and by 'bidding', I mean slaying the dozens of ingrates who dare to clutter the murky corridors.
Melee combat is of the real-time hack-and-slash variety, but reduced to its most basic form, with either a slower, more powerful attack, or a faster, less powerful one. If spells are your bag, it's the same deal.
That's not to say that Backstab's effort isn't enjoyable in its own mindlessly repetitive way; you'll feel that odd sense of satisfaction from scooping up all that lovely loot, and smash your way through every crowd with the same steely determination. You'll gain XP, you'll level up, you'll buy better weapons and gain better special attacks, but it's a well-trodden path that we've been down many times. Surprises are definitely at a premium.
Perhaps the main selling point is the presence of four-player co-op - especially given its online and local credentials. A bit of Gauntlet-style adventuring isn't something to sniff at, and far more enjoyable than button-mashing solo forays, where death results in having to replay entire missions from scratch. Nein, danke.
But with the excellent Torchlight only recently getting an XBLA release, and the equally entertaining Dungeon Hunter offering PS3 users an alternative, D&D: Daggerdale arrives with unfortunate timing - and at a price that doesn't readily lend itself to impulse purchases. While this is the very definition of 'solid' in every respect, it's only worth considering if you have some willing volunteers to play it alongside you.
- Virtual Console - 900 WiiWare Points (£6.30)
While my WiiWare gently sleeps, at least Nintendo has had the decency to keep the Virtual Console fires burning with the overdue release of Square's RPG classic.
Fact fans will know that it's now more than 16 years since Chrono Trigger sent Japanese and American audiences into wild paroxysms of desire on the SNES. For us indomitable, eternally patient Europeans, though, this represents the first opportunity to play the game on a home console. Just as well the Rapture was postponed for a bit.
But is it any good? Well, apart from the obvious fact that massive widescreen HD tellies are ridiculously unflattering to games designed for dinky CRTs, it holds up remarkably well - assuming you're already well-versed in the ways of 16-bit JRPGs.
Once you get beyond the obvious clichés, there's a good chance you'll love it for its endearing storyline, gorgeous art style, simple battle system and supply of hummable tunes.
And unlike a lot of similarly lauded RPGs, it has the decency to not take itself too seriously or bog players down with wearisome complexity. It hasn't appeared high up in numerous Best Game of All Time lists for nothing.
After waiting so long, we'd better get used to Chrono Trigger pitching up around these parts. With PSN and mobile phone versions arriving over the next couple of months, there will be no escape from its enduring allure.