Portable Shrine Wars
- DSiWare - 200 DSiWare points (Ł1.80)
It's nice to include wilful nonsense like Portable Shrine Wars now and then. Not because it's necessarily any good (it isn't), but because it's fun to wonder out loud how on earth things like this ever get off the drawing board.
As part of GameBridge's never-ending, barmily experimental GO Series, Tom Create's cheerful effort focuses on the Japanese summer festival tradition where dozens of people carry a huge portable shrine on their shoulders called a 'Mikoshi'.
To take the bizarre practice one step further into the surreal, Portable Shrine Wars pits you against teams of Mikoshi carriers in a race that has more than a shade of It's A Knockout to it.
For the initial part of the race, you guide your Mikoshi up the screen trying to build up speed, and doing so involves running into any stray carriers that may have been barged off their respective Mikoshi. The more carriers you have, the faster you'll go.
And as if barging a gaggle of opponents around the place wasn't chaotic enough, you can leap high into the air and try to flatten them instead, or elect to launch your carriers like missiles to smash up anyone in front of you.
As well as having to leap across bottomless pits, you also have to take care of giant festival bosses by repeatedly stomping on them. Obviously.
But despite its hugely endearing premise, the dizzying, chaotic novelty soon turns into a muddled scrimmage where success tends to be measured as much in luck as in skill. If you've got two quid to burn, pick it up and laugh for five minutes - otherwise, just watch the trailer. It does much the same job.
- 3DS - Ł3.60
Everyone should have a copy of Picross in their life, even if it's a monochrome relic from a time before the internet came along and fried our fragile minds with unending filth.
When Nintendo revived Picross for the DS in the noughties, we loved it pretty much to death, and got all excited about Slitherlink at the same time. But the problem with such patient, probing puzzlers is that it's hard to make such graphically bereft titles look or sound sexy.
Assuming you've never been treated to its all-consuming brilliance, the idea is to reveal a picture hidden beneath a grid. Along the top and down the side of the grid are lists of numbers that tell you how many of the squares need to be coloured in, and from a process of elimination you can gradually fill each one in.
To add a game element, a secondary 'goal' is to solve each puzzle in the quickest possible time. A clock ticks down from 30 minutes, and for every mistake you make, you're docked a couple of minutes. That's Picross in a nutshell.
Unlike some games you could mention, Mario's Picross doesn't exactly suffer in the light of technological advancements over the intervening years. If anything, developer Jupiter nailed it the first time - and the only thing that's aged is the person playing it.