Version tested: PC
A bumper roundup this week, as we sprint through a brace of releases on every platform from iPhone to PC, and every genre from block-puzzler to FPS. There are some classic games too, although in true download fashion, they might not be the ones you expect. But hey, we need predictability as much as we need a hole in the physical media of our heads. Read on!
- WiiWare / 500 points (£3.50 / €5)
Imagine the abject infuriation of being put back to the start of a song every single time you got a note wrong in Guitar Hero. Well, that's how Gaijin Games rolls with its demonic platformer, which tasks you with guiding Commander Video safely over more than 50 hazard-strewn environments.
Presented in Bit.Trip's typical seventies retro chunkiness, Runner starts off all jolly and innocuous with a spring in its step and a chiptune song in its heart, before gradually removing its mask and revealing the cantankerous grimace that lies beneath. Like Canabalt and The Impossible Game before it, you're sent sprinting off on an unstoppable rhythmical journey, and left to focus on collecting gold and making sure you don't snag yourself on an obstacle or fall down a hole.
With the simplest controls possible, you can either jump, kick, slide or launch yourself via springboards, but within a handful of levels the game turns the heat up and leaves absolutely no margin for error whatsoever. The slightest mistimed jump or fumbled kick, and it's back to the start with you, sonny.
Such unapologetic punishment all becomes part of its masochistic appeal, of course, and before long you get sucked into an obsessive loop, desperate not to be beaten. In the end, though, this is Gaijin Games we're talking about; no matter how much you try to like it, the price of 'winning' will be spending the rest of your days gently rocking in the corner.
- iPhone and iPod Touch / £2.99
And the winner of the 'About Bloody Time Too' award goes to Dundee-based developer Denki for finally getting around to bringing its classic GBA puzzler to the iPhone.
Once described as "a Tetris for the 21st Century", there's a beautiful design simplicity that belies some of the most fiendish block-sliding puzzle design you've ever encountered. Unwittingly tailor-made for touch-screen play, its transition to Apple's handset is a real cause for celebration.
If you've never encountered the game in its many forms before, it's all about reuniting same-coloured tiles by sliding them around a simple environment. The problem is, when you move one block, all the blocks on the screen move in the same direction - unless they're obstructed, that is.
With so many ways of getting yourself in an impossible situation, the trick is to try and think a few moves ahead to figure out a cunning route. As Denki itself admits, some puzzles are like defusing a time bomb, and others like lock mechanisms: one false move and the whole plan can fail. But with more than 100 intricately balanced puzzles and insanely smug Master Challenges to shoot for, this is a game that demands pride of place on your iPhone.