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Panic! Zombies! More Zombies! Picross! Shrines!

There's so much depressing gaming news at the moment you'd think the entire market was collapsing. If it's not a developer going bust, it's another year-on-year decline in the retail sector, or deepening losses leading to redundancies. It's pretty grim reading.

The problem is, we're only hearing part of the story. So much of the good news goes unreported - partly because the big data gatherers have yet to find ways to catch up with how much things have changed.

If a new indie studio is busy selling hundreds of thousands of copies of their latest mobile game, the chances are we won't hear about it, and it's the same non-story whether you're talking about PSN, WiiWare, Xbox Live, Steam or the App Store. That's partly because most people are very protective of their figures - especially the organisations in charge of running the stores.

But at a time when certain sectors are growing beyond belief, this smokescreen is incredibly unwelcome and most likely masks a lot of the good news about the true picture of gaming spend.

Hearing that fewer people are buying games in shops is hardly news. The market is evolving at a breakneck pace, and the fatigue of the current generation of consoles is there for all to see. But outside of that old world, the picture appears to be very different. It would be nice if we could call upon some accurate data to back that up.

Meanwhile: games!

OMG-Z

  • PSN Minis: Free to PlayStation Plus subscribers.

As someone who has to play about three zombie-related games per week, you'll forgive me for tutting and sighing like a stroppy teenager when another one lands on my desk.

Mowing down countless shambling zombies is one thing - but setting off chain reactions of exploding zombies is possibly one of the best ideas ever.

All you need to know is that "for cool and unimportant reasons", Redfield City's army of the undead literally explode when shot. Under normal circumstances, this would make clearing the streets of drooling beings rather simple, but this is video gaming we're talking about. Since when is anything straightforward?

1

Splash damage.

With all but one of your team having been wiped out, you arrive at the epicentre of the outbreak inexplicably short of ammunition. What this means, soldier, is that you have three bullets to deal with the undead horde, and have to set off chain reactions to rid the streets of this menace.

If you've ever played old-school iOS charmer Sneezies, Laughing Jackal's latest works in a similar fashion; the splash damage of the explosion causes those in the vicinity to also explode. But not all zombies are created equal, and some have more explosive energy, while others loose off a few rounds of their firearm in their death throes.

The upshot of a good performance is money, and once you've got enough of the stuff you can set about buying upgrades that, for example, give you more bullets or inflict more damage. Others, meanwhile, grant you more explosive zombies, or increase the radius of their acidic ooze, which generally makes it easier to make a big bloody mess.

All of this adds up to a monstrously addictive quick-fire affair that utterly nails what on-the-go handheld gaming should be about.

9/10

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