There's no such thing as a quiet week in the wild world of downloadable videogames, but this week's schedule may have been the most crowded yet.
Not only did Nintendo decide to drop 10 free Virtual Console titles on its 3DS 'ambassadors' (too late for this week's edition, sadly), the Indie Summer Uprising on Xbox Live Arcade ensured a handful of interesting titles rubbed shoulders with the usual plethora of games issued elsewhere (look out next week for a full roundup of these).
And just to keep us on our toes, no fewer than four titles hit Xbox Live Arcade, on top of another five on PSN, and loads more via Steam and the rest. How do I keep up? Coffee. Lots of coffee.
On with the games...
Rock Of Ages
- Xbox Live Arcade - 800 Microsoft points - Ł6.80.
- Coming soon to PC and PS3.
Excuse me while I have a Def Leppard moment. On a Friday, it's the least that I can do to prepare your for the weekend frolics to come.
While I'm here, you might like to know about ACE Team's potty historically minded boulder-rolling fusion of tower defence and Terry Gilliam-esque visuals.
The grand idea - in amongst the madness - is to smash a boulder through your enemy's gates and ultimately squish their cowering body to death. Each level plays out broadly the same way, with an initial short period of setting up your defence towers, catapults, and, yep, roaming elephants.
Once your minions have built your boulder, you wind it merrily through a hazard-strewn environment, bounding over their defences, and gleefully rolling over fleeing civilians that get in your way. The more speed you build up en route to the gate, the more damage you inflict.
The process repeats a further two times, with another brief period of defensive meddling before rolling onwards once more.
But all too soon it becomes apparent that defences (on both sides) are woefully inadequate, and that victory essentially comes down to who gets the third strike in first.
The main problem is the ability to jump, and consequently how easy that makes it to dodge the defences. With all strategy out of the window, reducing the game to a simple race quickly drains all of the rich potential out of it. It's still fun, admittedly, and the 23 missions will keep most players going for hours.
And then there's split screen competitive multiplayer, but all the problems that blight the campaign mode apply here. Elsewhere, neither the race-based Skeeboulder multiplayer mode or the single player Time Trial prove interesting enough to make up for the game's shallowness.
With bags of charm and wry humour, Rock Of Ages gets off to the best possible start. You'll want to love it, but in the end, these are half-baked ideas that ought to have been put to better use. Ah well.