Dr Maybee and the Adventures of Scarygirl
- PSN Minis - Ł3.49/€3.99, free to PS Plus subscribers until 2nd August.
Scarygirl's not scary, she's just misunderstood. Like the shoegazing Goth you secretly fancied in sixth form, she usually warms up after the third Strongbow.
By that stage, she's bold enough to tell you about the mysterious, bearded gentleman haunting her dreams. Maybe it's exposure to The Eels. Maybe it's Harold Shipman. Whoever it is, it's up to you to guide this part-Octopus girl (hey, we've all got our issues) to Dr Maybee via the magic of beautifully illustrated platform gaming.
No yawning at the back. This is the first game in a while to make the misery of recharging and system-updating the never-ready PSP seem worth the nerve-shredding aggravation. (Or you could just play it on the PS3).
Based on the surreal Nathan Jurevicius graphic novels of the same name (which I'm embarrassed to admit I've never heard of), the game's wonderfully lavish visual style is undoubtedly its best trick. Like so many of the pretty things that light up our lives, it's mainly a means of distracting us from the unpleasant truth that there's nothing especially interesting going on underneath.
That doesn't mean that Dr Maybee and the Adventures of Scarygirl is a vapid exercise in simplistic kleptomania, but nor is it bursting at the seams with life-affirming innovation.
But that's OK. Sometimes it's just fine to bounce and swim through a strange and beautiful game world in search of random tat while avoiding the spiky things. Especially when it's free to PlayStation Plus subscribers. Suddenly that makes everything ok.
Tobe's Vertical Adventure
- PC Steam / Xbox Live Indie Games - Ł3.14 (currently 10 per cent off).
In my book of completely made-up facts, four-fifths of all download games involve jumping, and 23 per cent of all decent Xbox Live Indie Games are later released on Steam.
And with perfect synchronicity comes Secret Base's long-overdue PC port of its one-time Xbox Indie starlet. Released in the months leading up to our regular roundups, we overlooked this loving homage to old-school platforming and feel compelled to make up for this appalling lapse in judgement.
Like any retro platformer worth its salt it's all about the quality of the controls and level design - and disproportionately large-headed characters. Tobe's Vertical Adventure succeeds admirably on all fronts, with even the well-worn treasure-hunting vibe unable to derail the fun.
Throughout the 16 levels you painstakingly make your way down through trap-laden caverns, rescuing fluffy animals in search of the big treasure chest. But the second you find the treasure, the cavern starts to collapse around you, requiring a hasty retreat back to the entrance before you end up buried alive.
It's a simple formula, but one with enough charm and character of its own to warrant slapping down a few quid - if only for the chance to play it in co-op with a future lover. But like so many incompatible love interests down the years, your enjoyment on PC is blighted by slightly iffy joypad support and unintuitive button mapping - something the developer could fix in about five minutes if it didn't hate your face so much.
Failing that, just go forth and check out the Xbox version, grow your hair, put on Screamadelica, and wear some baggy clothes and the beatific smile of carefree youth.