It's been three whole weeks since we last had the chance to cop a sly feel of the mobile gaming sector. You can blame E3, the deluge of PSN releases and the launch of the 3DS eStore/eShop/eByGum, but you categorically cannot blame me.
Call it avoidance, call it coincidence, or just plain bone-idleness, but the download scene took an almighty hit during E3. Microsoft turned off the tap for two consecutive weeks, Nintendo seems to have all but given up on WiiWare and DSiWare, and Sony's initial PSN comeback flood has reduced to a trickle.
PSN, we really missed you. Week after week of hopeful expectation that Sony would resume service went by, and nothing but sullen messages about maintenance. But it's back! Back! [We know, it's been back a while now, but this article got held up by some glorified meeting in America. -Ed.]
Wouldn't it be nice if I could just talk about how great the eStore games are, how competitively priced they are, and how Nintendo has learned important lessons from the past? But sadly, I'd be leading you astray.
To keep us on our toes this week, Microsoft decided to turn off the Xbox Live Arcade pipe. And with the PSN Store remaining offline until yesterday, you might think that it's all tumbleweed in download-ville. Well, as Dave Gahan might roar, wrong.
No sooner have I hit 'send' and filed another excitable mobile roundup, I've got people ranting and raving about the next great mobile classic that I should definitely, totally cover.
You might have noticed that we don't tend to bother looking at retro reissues when we compile each week's roundup. For one thing, most of you probably already know whether you want to buy them in advance; you've either played them or your mates have spent years going on about them. Besides, Retro Sunday is there to service those with nostalgia issues.
Is this the best time ever for video games? As someone who reviews 10 games a week, and tries out plenty more, I've almost started to take for granted that there will be a minimum of two or three truly great games out. At that rate, over the course of a year, you're looking at as many as 100 great games that are worth spending money on - and that's just in the downloadable gaming scene.
With PSN still out of commission, and Nintendo seemingly holding back games for the upcoming launch of its 3DS eStore, it might look like a bit of a dry week in the scorched pastures of download gaming - but seek and ye shall find.
Yet again I find myself in the position of having an incredible number of interesting mobile games to review - and not enough space to cover them all.
One of the most noticeable things about 2011's release schedule is the stunning decline in the number of boxed products to review. Outside of the obvious big name candidates like Portal 2, Brink, Virtua Tennis 4, Operation Flashpoint Red River, Mortal Kombat and Lego Pirates of the Caribbean, it's tumbleweed out there.
For the last four years there's been a metronomic precision to the release of a new iPhone, and now is usually the time that the rumour mill goes into overdrive as the tech blogs try to suss out what form the next iteration is going to take. But not this time.
Two weeks on, and still no sign of the PSN outage coming to an end. Knocking two platforms out of the download equation has obviously had a pretty noticeable impact on the number of games we have to cover over that period; normally we'd find at least one PSN game to cover each week, and probably a Mini as well.
Another day, another Bank Holiday. Seriously, how many bloody holidays do these banks need? How about actually taking less than a week to clear a cheque. That would be nice, wouldn't it?
It's probably just as well there's a Royal Wedding going on right now, if only to drown out the media hubbub surrounding Sony's monumental PSN security breach.
You lot owe me big time. While most of you have been outside enjoying this unfeasibly unseasonal hot weather, I've been slaving away over hot gadgets to seek out all that's important in the world of mobile gaming. It's a dirty job, but someone's go to do it.
Now that there's several years worth of quality download content in the respective archives of Sony, Nintendo and Microsoft – not to mention the various PC and Mac services – it's harder than ever to make a substantial impact.
A week down the line, I can safely say that I'm a big fan of Sony Ericsson's Xperia Play. It's comfortable to play, I've got no complaints about the screen at all, and it's big enough without feeling too bulky.
When a game as good as Might & Magic: Clash of Heroes HD comes along, it does make you recalibrate your price expectations of other games. It doesn't happen that often, granted, but when it does, it's hardly surprising that some of the old-school thinkers in the industry worry about the kind of precedent it sets.
Please charge your glasses for the arrival of Xperia Play. It might not be the most awesomely powerful smartphone ever seen, but it has the one thing I've been hankering after ever since I started covering the sector back in 2008: buttons.
The sun's shining. The sky is blue. That can mean only one thing: it's time to reduce your risk of skin cancer and sit inside and play games until your eyeballs bleed.
For the survival horror hardcore, a new Parasite Eve game has been a long time coming – 11 years, if you haven't been keeping up. Well, you can keep waiting, because The 3rd Birthday bears very little relation to the series that provides the game's sighing, whimpering lead character, Aya Brea. No wonder Square Enix has positioned it as a spin-off.
I've spent a large portion of the last week lugging my 3DS around wherever I go. Not because of the stunning quality of the games, you understand; truth be told, I'm not especially bothered about any of the launch titles.
It is really a year since the first Download Games Roundup? Already? If I'd known you were coming, I'd have baked you a cake.
If you're going to port a popular old game onto shiny new hardware, it's a smart idea to make sure said console can do it justice. Case in point - Splinter Cell: Chaos Theory, a moody stealth adventure where you guide sneaky old Sam Fisher around as he snaps necks and hacks computers in perpetual darkness.
Every week, the comments unfailingly ask for more Android game coverage. We're listening. This week, we've managed to up the quota to two titles - but the reality is most developers are still debuting their games on iOS platforms first.
Have you noticed an curious resistance to short, sharp, bite-sized videogames from people who were too young to have experienced them the first time around? It's an interesting phenomenon, but it makes sense.
It's probably no coincidence that Apple decided to launch the iPad 2 on the same day as Nintendo's 3DS, and as far as spoilers go it's an interesting one. On the surface, they don't compete and they offer very different things, but in reality both are likely to appeal to the same early adopters who must have everything the day it comes out. Such as myself.
Goodness me, children. Will you stop fighting? In the red corner we've got Nintendo claiming that game development is stifled amidst the tens of thousands of cheap downloadable games out there, and in the blue corner we've got those Rovio upstarts claiming that traditional console games are "dying".
In this era of annual sports updates churned out with metronomic regularity, it's rare for the latest version of anything to be greeted with the grand expectations that accompany big-name sequels in other genres. Whether it was a carefully plotted strategy or a consequence of shifting development to 2K Czech though, the near three-year wait for a fourth Top Spin has put us in the rare position of being quite excited about its arrival.