As the winter nights continue to draw in like an overzealous pencil with a fondness for punctuality, and the Christmas change jangling around in your pocket threatens to burst the lining and shower your shoes in chilly metal on a busy commuter train, the UK budget labels are poised to take advantage in the next few months with a mixture of high quality and commercially successful relics - and a few you'd probably do best to ignore.
Mastertronic, first, sends word that its PC Gamer Presents... and M.A.D ranges are set to get a boost in February. The PC Gamer Presents... range, which only inducts games that have scored more than 80 per cent in the UK edition of the magazine, says hi to the oft-underrated Prisoner of War and the rather excellent original TOCA Race Driver. M.A.D, on the other hand, which holds up 100,000 full-price sales as the bar for inclusion, welcomes Commandos 3, Warlords IV: Heroes of Etheria, and Wildlife Park Gold.
If you're more of a PS2 fan though... you might like to check out the vast PS2 Platinum label, as Xplosiv's Q1 releases are a mixture of the unexciting and the fairly obscure. Headliner Bad Boys II, even at £19.99, is little more than a passable Kill.switch clone; Spin Drive Ping Pong is a tenner less but nothing we've read about it answers the question "Why should I buy a table tennis game?" satisfactorily; which leaves another tenner's-worth, Gunbird Special Edition, which seems to be a compilation of two shoot-'em-ups that will probably have fans in hysterics but might well pass the rest of us by.
Still, coupled with Sold Out's February offering at £4.99 (Command & Conquer Renegade, ChampMan Season 00/01, Zeus, Ski Park Manager, Space Tripper and Haegemonia), it's quite possible that you'll find something to tickle your wallet. Assuming you haven't already blown the lot on one of the many, many pre-Christmas releases that we're even now struggling to comes to terms with.