Version tested: Xbox 360
Editor's note: As you may have noticed, internet gaming is inconveniently big and untidy, with new digital distribution channels springing up all the time. Where it was once just Steam and Xbox Live Arcade, we now have to worry about the App Store, PSN, WiiWare, Xbox Indie Games channel, DSiWare... These days, all the cool kids have their own digital distribution racket. Good content is harder to find, and from the perspective of a website like Eurogamer, it's now more resource-intensive to cover a smaller cross-section of games as a result. Whoops!
That's no excuse for not doing it, of course, so we've decided to embrace the fact it's not practical to write big individual reviews of absolutely everything, and that it's also not useful to you if we wait around for ages and then round up a bunch of old games. To this end we're going to experiment with multiformat digital download roundups, and former Eurogamer.net editor and downloadophile Kristan Reed is going to write them. To kick off, er, here's a roundup of a bunch of old stuff. Look out for more soon.
- Developer: Mommy's Best Games
- Format: Xbox Live Indie Games
- Price: 80 Microsoft Points (£0.64)
One of the more impressively polished efforts to hit the Xbox Live Indie scene, Shoot 1UP is an enjoyable twist on the classic top-down shmup for a mere 80 Microsoft Points, which is less money than you probably spend on a can of Coke (unless you're like Tom and drink 14 a day).
Notable for being yet another videogame to sport a female boss with disturbing projectile-emitting gazongas, it manages to entertain for the requisite 15 minutes thanks to the novelty of allowing players to utilise their entire fleet of ships on the screen at once.
Rather than rely on standard power-ups, you tread a risk-reward tightrope as you elect to either spread your fleet's firepower across the screen with the right trigger, or contract them into a narrow column and minimise your exposure to enemy firepower.
Destroying enemy waves periodically grants you extra lives, but rather than going into storage they instantly join in the fight. Avoid enemy fire for long enough and up to 30 ships will be available to you, granting you a vast column of devastation. Its technically impressive, too, with a chaotic early-nineties SWIV vibe without a hint of slowdown.
Unlike most Xevious-inspired shooters, the presence of four difficulty levels ensures that it's instantly accessible right from the off, though the kind of players who go to bed dreaming of exploding sprites are also well catered for.
With a two-player co-op mode and branching paths across all five stages, it'd almost be rude for shooter aficionados not to destroy the mechanical-tentacle hybrid forces responsible for your pain.
- Developer: Gaijin Games
- Format: WiiWare
- Price: 600 Wii Points (£4.20 / €6)
Almost five months after its release overseas, the third Bit.Trip title finally joined the European WiiWare ranks last week, and is another deeply unhinged voyage into the realms of chiptune rhythm-action.
Presented with its trademark nod to late-seventies retro simplicity, the idea this time is to control a single pixelated black 'void' with the nunchuk stick and negotiate the environment as waves of blocks sweep onto the screen from all angles.
There's one simple rule to progression: swallow up as many of the incoming black blocks as you can while avoiding the white ones. Every black block you collect increases the size of the void, making it easier to collect subsequent blocks while also making it tougher to avoid the white ones.
The trick is knowing when best to stab the A button and contract your void, and when to let yourself get fat and hoover everything up before it whizzes out of reach and scuppers your combo multiplier. Hit too many white blocks and you'll wind up inhabiting a soundless black-and-white otherworld until you redeem yourself by collecting enough black blocks.
With three increasingly taxing stages to barrel through, it quickly becomes as much a brutal test of pattern recognition as adaptive reaction speed and sheer rhythmic instinct. And just like the other two Bit.Trip titles, the difficulty curve will bloody the noses of anyone not blessed with the requisite insect powers of twitch reaction time and knack for committing patterns to memory.
With typically insane bosses to face, it's fortunate that checkpoints allow you to make a modicum of progress - but even then you'll likely be in for a rough ride. Up to three friends can also help out and control a void of their own, but this doesn't make it easier, it just twists the game into something else altogether.
The inability to upload high-scores is a minor disappointment, but otherwise Bit.Trip Void is an unqualified success, and for 600 Points from the Wii Shop it's well worth investigating.