- DSiWare / 500 points (Ł4.50 / €5)
If you've wondered why no-one's ever made a brick-breaker RPG, you might want to poke your nose around MotionTwin's DSiWare effort.Taking Nolan Bushnell's ancient Breakout template to demented extremes, it promises an insane 25 million levels, and, presumably, the chance to plumb depths of OCD you never thought possible.
On a mission to find your way back to Earth, you find yourself in the centre of a gigantic intergalactic map, with each square representing a level that you can choose to tackle. To make things somewhat more exciting than the average Arkanoid/Breakout clone, each stage is absolutely awash with different power-ups - some 26 are available in total, one for every letter in the alphabet.
As the trailer conveys rather well, the sheer volume of power-ups which rain down turns AlphaBounce into a frantic affair. If you hit the right combination of power-ups in sequence, the whole level erupts in a thrilling explosion of psychedelia.
Sometimes, though, the exact opposite can be true, and clearing levels can descend into a monotonous war of attrition as you patiently bat the ball back to the remaining bricks, partying like it's 1976.
The problem with having so many stages is that making concerted progress is absolutely interminable. Now and then you'll pick up a permanent power-up that you can bolt on, such as a missile, but collecting each and every one will involve reserves of patience that are disproportionate to the entertainment on offer.
When it's firing on all cylinders, AlphaBounce can be a riotous diversion; full of inventive ideas and bold scope, the potential's clearly there. But rather than make a tight, focused design that continually entertains, MotionTwin waste far too much of your time.
The Will Of Dr. Frankenstein
- WiiWare / 500 points (Ł3.50 / €5)
Some games seem specifically designed to sap your will to live. Foisting one pointless task after another on poor little Frankie, Enjoy Gaming's WiiWare effort feels like a curious social experiment to test the unquestioning complicity of the average player.
A heavily cut-down version of a US-only Wii title, The Island Of Dr. Frankenstein, you play the cheerfully gormless young 'un, Frankie, on a mission to collect five million pointless objects for no particularly good reason.
Transported back in time (appropriate, given that it looks like an N64 title), you find yourself wandering incessantly around a floating island in search of five pieces of a machine. But to do so, you have to run a seemingly unending procession of trivial errands. Get so-and-so's hat. Dig up a cooking pot. Unearth some treasure. Go and murder 17 puppies with knitting needles.
OK, I lied about the last bit, but it would probably liven up a game where you spend most of your time continually sucking up little cloud-like 'Vaporite' critters with your 'Steampack' vacuum cleaner and trying not to cry. Sometimes you need them to be able to dig things up, other times you have to do it simply because someone told you to, or because, gasp, the red Vaporites are dangerous and we must vanquish them to protect the island.
If any of this were fun in any way, you might forgive its tenuous premise - but as it stands, being governed by the Will of Dr. Frankenstein is the Chinese water torture of videogaming.