Hamlet, or Last Game Without MMORPG Elements, Shaders, and Product Placement
- PC, $9.99 (www.alawar.com)
- Alawar/ mif2000
Vying for the longest and most irreverent game title of all-time, this quirky point-and-click puzzle-adventure comes to us from Russia. It blends the spirit of Zak & Wiki with a wonderfully implausible re-imagining of the classic Shakespeare play for added nonsense.
The evil Claudius has seized the crown and forced Hamlet's girlfriend Ophelia to marry him. But just as the valiant Prince Hamlet is about to exact revenge, a curious and nerdy-looking 'man from the future' arrives on the precise spot where Hamlet was standing. To avoid a rift in the space-time continuum, the new hero must avenge the death of Hamlet's parents on his behalf and then rescue Ophelia.
The gameplay connotations for this are hilariously tenuous, but that is, of course, a large part of the title's appeal. It unfolds over series of single-screen puzzle-strewn environments and each one presents you with a deliberately obscure set of absurd problems that you must prod at impotently until something happens.
With only a simple cursor arrow at your disposal, progress usually involves little more than poking things in a semi-logical order until the man stops snoring and goes fishing. Or something. And while this probably sounds hopelessly dull to the uninitiated, grizzled point n' click veterans will drink in the madness.
Fortunately, if none of it makes sense within a few minutes, the game eventually offers you the option of asking for a hint to quell the rage - but even that might not be enough for certain challenges. Presumably designed for mouse input, some of the time-specific tasks at hand prove utterly impossible when attempted with a trackpad, so buyer beware.
With 25 crafty challenges to pick your way through, Hamlet... Is a fine way to while away a rainy Sunday. Play it after a John Walker retrospective for maximum wistfulness.
Monsters (Probably) Stole My Princess
- PSP Mini
As you might have gathered from the game's informative title, your princess has (probably) been stolen by monsters. Naturally, the only course of action is to chase the little buggers down lest they feast upon her delectable remains.
Set over five levels, this simple-but-charming platformer puts you in charge of the disarmingly egotistical Duke, as you bound around in perennial pursuit of monsters who may (or may not) be holding the hapless princess captive.
In what amounts to a relentless chase, the task at hand amounts to little more than swiftly ascending between platforms as quickly and accurately as possible. With a modicum of precision, you'll eventually catch up with with your target and have an opportunity to inflict damage by double-jumping into them. Pull this off three times before they reach the top of the level and they crash spectacularly to the ground, leaving the Duke standing imperiously over their spattered torsos.
As a secondary aim, you can also attempt to build up the highest possible jump combo by deftly hopping between platforms without touching the same one twice. As soon as you foul up, the combo count is reset back to zero and so the process begins again. Although it's not a major concern in the game's story mode, once you start focusing on the 18 Score Attack levels, it's essential to not only take down the monster as efficiently as possible but try and rack up a giant combo into the bargain.
Brimming with character and a knowing wit, Monsters is almost an essential purchase. With a focused appeal, and an immediate, addictive set of mechanics, this is (probably) the best PSP Mini game to date.