For various boring reasons, I haven't actually had a phone line or internet connection since 4th August. As the chap in charge of two sets of digital gaming roundups per week, you might imagine that this would present something of a problem.
A few years ago, this would have resulted in world-ending inconvenience, gnashing and wailing and trips to irritated friends. Luckily for all concerned, a combination of mobile tethering, extreme data rationing and the odd trip to a none-the-wiser Wi-Fi equipped deli pulled victory from the jaws of defeat and here we are. You wouldn't notice the join.
Meanwhile: games. While everyone bangs on about Deus Ex, and I wait patiently for the opportunity to play it, this week is like your average Carling Cup line-up: a few benchwarmers mixed with some future stars getting back to fitness. Final score: 2-2 after extra time (3-2 on pens to the good guys).
- PSN - Ł5.09
- Previously released on PSN Minis.
For reasons that will almost certainly never become apparent (partly because I'm making this up), a bunch of developers had a secret meeting a while back and agreed to see who could produce the best Qix-inspired game of all.
Well, all bets are off, because Laughing Jackal's cube-based reinvention trumps the others by a considerable margin.
The idea isn't to simply 'land-grab' a single piece of territory like all of its rivals, but to do so across all six surfaces of an entire cube. In all other respects, it works as you'd expect, with most of your focus on avoiding the attention of an unpredictable cluster of squares that prowls around each side of the cube.
If you can reach another edge without being hit, the area drawn fills in and contributes to your overall target. If you reach your target (usually 70 per cent), you'll move on to the next stage. Easy.
Except that it's pretty far from being as straightforward as it initially appears. Worse still, in the game's Arcade mode, you have to complete the fifth stage of each chapter before you're deemed to have 'completed' it. It's punishing, but that doesn't stop it from being murderously addictive.
Other modes, such as Time Attack, merely put you under pressure, but Score Attack and Line Attack force you to take even more risks than usual as you gamely attempt to rack up combos. Elsewhere, the 50-stage Challenge mode turns the simplest task into a mild one-more-go obsession. And then there's the ingenious addition of co-op. There's even seven-player deathmatch for crying out loud. I've got a word limit, you know.
The heroic thing about it all is that Laughing Jackal manages to reinvent Qix in a way that has evidently been completely beyond Taito for the past 30 years. And if that's not a fitting tribute, I don't know what is.