The only problem with swimming in the download pool is that it completely rewires your gaming habits. Sampling upwards of ten games every week is like stepping back into that mythical past when you'd come home with a bagful of cheap games (or, more likely, a C90 cassette rammed with the latest pirated gems).
Back then, games had to impress you immediately. There was no time to wait for a slow-burn intro. No time to mess around learning complicated control schemes. You were already impatient enough as it was, what with hideous loading times. Designers cut to the chase, and knew they had to grab you in those first few minutes, or you'd move onto something else fairly swiftly.
Sometime after the PlayStation launched, that all seemed to change - seemingly forever. We all got increasingly sucked into playing sprawling epics, and demanded lavish production values. Happily, the growth of the download scene has proven beyond any doubt that there's room for both approaches to flourish side by side.
As for me, though, my tolerance for average big-budget games is at an all-time low. There was a time when I'd happily lap up most half-decent boxed games - but no more. Give me a handful of brilliant, inventive, instantly playable download titles any day.
- PSN (PS3) / $9.99 (Coming soon to Europe.)
- iPhone / ú0.59
Some of you want nothing more than to stack things up and just keep on stacking. You should come over for dinner sometime. The more destructive types, though, I hate you with every fibre of my being. You just can't wait to ruin a tense game of Jenga, can you? Honestly.
Cast as the cuddly mediator in the great stacking war, Super Stacker likes to wave peace signs to both camps, allowing you to either play the constructor who piles shapes gently on top of one another, or the dude who enjoys knocking stuff down.
Adapted from Sparkworkz' popular Flash game, this vastly beefed-up and revamped PSN version shares a lot in common with recent WiiWare title Art Of Balance - albeit with a little more variety for your sheckles.
In Stacker mode, you're given a number of shapes and must pile them all up as quickly as you can and make sure they don't fall over. Simple. Elsewhere, Present Stacker mode puts a small twist on the theme, tasking you with piling the shapes up to a specified goal. Unstacker, meanwhile, has you blasting away dynamite blocks to coax a single block down to a designated area.
As you progress through the skill ranks of each mode, you'll endure increasingly complex tasks, forcing you into desperate improvisation that gets ever more frantic the further you go.
Played out against madcap backdrops and jolly tunes, Super Stacker is an instantly likeable puzzle title, and its forthcoming arrival on the European PSN Store will be well worth the wait.