Me Monstar Hear Me Roar
- PSN Minis - £3.99/€4.99, free to PS Plus subscribers until 2nd August.
Eat. Grow. Win. It's a mindset that a growing portion of our Super Size Me society appears to be entirely comfortable with, and it's the gluttonous conceit behind Cohort Studio's eat-'em-up.
On each level, you begin as a slight blue-skinned beast on a mission to become big enough to consume everyone around you. Doing so involves a mixture of canny melee moves and a continually scooping up all the 'dreams' that float around the environment.
On a basic level, the more you eat, the bigger you get. But while bigger monsters lumber around, you have to continually boost and barge your way around, shout to stun, and lay into them with your punch attack whenever the opportunity presents itself.
What the game lacks in subtlety, it makes up for with brash energy, slick production values and surprisingly moreish mechanics.
Working your way up the food chain involves a fair bit of button mashing, sure, but once you gain access to the chargeable attacks and nauseating power-ups (such as the self-explanatory chunder cheese and the flame fart attack of Napalm Chilli), an unexpected layer of strategy makes it more entertaining than seemed possible early on.
As a freebie to PlayStation Plus subscribers, Me Monstar Hear Me Roar is a cackling feast of projectile-vomiting silliness to while away an hour on, but you might balk at having to actually pay for it. Man. When did we all get so tight?
- PSN - $9.99. EU release date: August 10th, price TBC.
- NES version available via Wii Virtual Console.
Despite being aged 138 and serving in both World Wars, Spelunker is one of the few platforming hits of the past to have completely passed me by.
Massive oversight or lucky escape? Coming at it without 20-20 hindsight, it's hard to say with any certainty, but one thing's for sure: Tim Martin's fondly remembered platformer has aged with all the grace of a horny, crack-addled pensioner.
Experienced 28 years after its release, Spelunker is saddled with some of the most spiteful, antagonistic mechanics in the long, glorious history of platform gaming. While Bounty Bob and Donkey Kong still feel a joy to play today, this feels like a relic best forgotten.
Death is literally everywhere, with every tiny infraction resulting in petty, unnecessary punishment - and progress requires a steely commitment bordering on the obsessive.
Contempt for the player spews forth from the opening seconds, with unforgiving jump mechanics designed to turn perfectly innocuous-looking leaps into death traps.
Even with the new 'Rope Assist' switched on (an option you can employ to negate one of the more hateful causes of death), you'll still contrive ways to be caught in the splash damage from a bomb, or fall into a pit, or catch falling debris from passing bats, and so on. Even the scrolling system appears designed to irk.
I'd say you get used to it, but only in as much that a torture victim gets used to being electrocuted in the testicles after a few hours. You will make progress. Eventually. But at what cost? How important is that full head of hair to you?
And the less said about Irem's regrettable HD 'makeover' the better. With all the artistic panache of the my-first-game detritus that washes up on the Xbox Live Indie channel on a daily basis, it's actually a pleasant relief that you can switch it all off and play it in NES-style block-o-vision. Strangely, it also feels slightly more playable in its pixelart form, not to mention an order of magnitude more charming.
If, by some weird quirk, you're masochistic enough to actually enjoy unremitting punishment, then there's cause for celebration, with 100 levels, four player local co-op and six player online play to tuck into. You certainly can't fault it for content or additional features.
I realise that, for some, criticising an old 'classic' is tantamount to sacrilege, but no game should ever be beyond reproach. Regardless of how great it was considered back then, Spelunker HD is the kind of shoddy remake best ignored. The download scene is hardly short of platforming fun, now is it?