- iPhone / £0.59
It always seemed a distressing waste of talent that Denki spent the best part of the past decade slaving away on digital interactive TV games (our favourite: Barbie Luv Me 3 Puppy Tricks). It's a bit like finding out that one of your favourite songwriters writes jingles for daytime quiz shows.
But following swiftly on from last month's marvellous Denki Blocks port, the road to redemption for the Dundee-based 'digital toy company' continues with the release of another tempting retro-flavoured morsel for the iPhone.
Doffing its battered cap to the granddaddy of them all, Pong, the idea of this lovely throwaway is to try and bat away blocks as they rain down from above. With its visual style designed to emulate the soft phospor glow, curvature and scan lines of a black-and-white TV, you're zapped right back to the sights and sounds of the seventies. The only things missing are Grange Hill, a packet of Spangles and an imminent power cut.
Played out to an audio backdrop of hypnotic blips and bloops, the game initially only drops one block at you, but the longer you keep it in play, the smaller it gets. It kicks up a notch as more blocks enter the fray, necessitating a focused approach as you gamely attempt to slide your bat left and right to postpone their disappearance.
With three-minute, five-minute and endless modes to battle against, there's not exactly much to experience (DEnki does admit it's a "microgame"), but OpenFeint support ensures that you'll be obsessing over your online ranking whether you like it or not.
- PSN (PS3) / £9.99
You know how it is. One minute you're a grumpy art thief, the next you're washed up on a tiny tropical island surrounded by the hungriest sharks the world has ever seen.
So what do you do? Well, you certainly don't build a boat or search for the secret submarine or probe the mysteries of The Dharma Initiative (what a waste of time that would be).
Rather less obviously, you find some dude called Marley (oof) to build you a helicopter from driftwood and palm trees and go around picking up fellow unfortunates like some sort of aerial Crazy Taxi cabbie.
OK, so the premise is about as sturdy as the wooden chopper, but Bearded Ladies' riotous little offering proves diverting over the course of its 20-level campaign. Played out against strict time limits, the idea is to fetch and carry each passenger safely to their destination while juggling various other assorted goals, such as refuelling the local bar with barrels of rum, or stopping the locals from drowning.
Although there's a certain chaotic charm about it (especially the frenzied split-screen duels), the inherent repetition quickly has you raising an eyebrow at its rather off-putting price tag. For a tenner, you'd expect a lot more.
Ancients of Ooga
- Xbox Live Arcade / 800 Microsoft Points (£6.80 / €9.60)
Continuing the current Xbox Live Arcade hot streak, NinjaBee's puzzle-platformer is yet another reason to forget all about the fact that there aren't any decent boxed releases for the next couple of months. Forgotten already? Good, let's press on.
Said to be something of a spiritual sequel to Cloning Clyde, this unapologetically bananas offering has you guiding a tribe of Ooganis through routinely bizarre environments, where eating your friends and then puking them up is considered socially acceptable. They'd get on well with England fans.
Faced with a procession of switches, ladders, pressure pads, wheels and bits of machinery to operate, you'll spend much of your time rounding up the required number of buddies to open up the next chunk of the environment.
With its twisted humour and mutated style lending a pleasantly Oddworld vibe to proceedings, this is a crafted effort for those of us with a tendency to mutter that they don't make 'em like they used to. Apparently they do.