Remakes, rip-offs, subtle twists. There really is no secret recipe to making a great download game, as this week's ragbag collective amply proves.
On the surface, none of the five titles put under the microscope this week look like anything special, and you'd be dead right to shrug your shoulders at the prospect of a couple of puzzle titles, a diving game, a Castlevania clone and a board game remake. Yeah, big deal.
But once you actually get around to playing them, it's abundantly clear how much effort has gone into making every one special in its own sweet way. Dive manages to outdo Endless Ocean at a fraction of the price, while Piczle Lines outdoes most puzzle games at no cost at all. And if you can resist that one, you're probably just immune to fun.
Dive: The Medes Island Secret
- WiiWare / 1000 Wii Points (Ł7.00)
When Ringo Starr sang "I'd like to be, under the sea, in an Octopus's Garden in the shade," he probably didn't imagine Mr Octopus and his fishy mates could be such utter cocksacks.
Far from being cuddly peace-loving creatures of impossible natural beauty, all this lot want to do is nibble on your fleshy parts while you go about your treasure-hunting business. Not cool.
Essentially a modern-day update of Spectrum classic Scuba Dive, the idea is to explore the ocean floor and scoop up as much booty as you can while trying not to get killed by vindictive aquatic life.
Despite its initially playful and "relaxing" charm, where you mainly focus on conserving your air, about four levels in Dive decides that the gloves are off and proceeds to slap you around like a cat toying with a barely-alive mouse. Jellyfish, spiky plants, puffer fish, sharks, hideous cave-lurking tendrils and giant bloody octopuses all consider you fair game, lining up to take turns to feast on this foolish morsel paddling around in the blue.
But hey, we all love a bit of punishment-reward in our videogaming, don't we? Especially when the rewards let you dive even deeper. And we all know what's down there, eh?