- Xbox Live Indie Games / 80 Microsoft Points (£0.64)
If you don't ask, you don't get. That was certainly the ballsy attitude of Nathan Fouts, who refused to release his latest title until Microsoft deigned to fix the Top Downloads list on its Indie Games marketplace.
Having gained his game plenty of attention in the process, it's nice to know he wasn't wasting everyone's time with cheap publicity tactics. Like Mommy's Best Games' much-admired Weapon Of Choice, Explosionade squeezes the 2D platform-shooter lemon until the juice runs down its leg.
Strapped into a chunky mech, you (and a friend, if you have one handy) bound around giddily, dispatching assorted irritants with the twin might of your directional laser and grenades, and occasionally activating a shield that appears to double up as a Zorb. Each of the 40 levels has an easily accessible manhole exit, and most of the fun comes from trying to speed-run them without copping damage in the process.
Although it's all over inside half an hour, for 80 points, Explosionade is an absolute steal. And thanks to the challenge room-style gameplay and online high-score tables, there's plenty of reason to go back, crank up the difficulty and do it all over again.
- PC (Steam) / £9.99
- Coming soon to WiiWare and Xbox Live Arcade
Some things are just better left in the past, buried deep underground in a trap-ridden sealed vault, guarded by denizens of the internet and Daleks. Things like Haunted House, in fact.
Credited with being one of the earliest examples of survival horror, Haunted House asked you to guide a disembodied pair of eyes around a spooky mansion, collecting keys, lighting matches and ferreting around in the perma-gloom while trying to avoid the attentions of the patrolling monsters. In 1981, this was revolutionary stuff. It had scrolling levels!
Nearly three decades on from its original Atari 2600 release, Atari and developer ImaginEngine have decided that the time is right to exhume the concept, and have come up with a loving homage that pays perhaps rather too much attention to the source material.
After regaling us with a tale of suspiciously old-sounding children and their hunt for their missing grandpa, the game quickly settles into a repetitive and moribund search for keys and locked doors. You'll scoop up discarded matches and candles en route and sometimes even discover journal entries and coins, but that's about the extent of the excitement.
Thanks to the complete absence of combat mechanics, you'll spend half your time swishing the mouse from side to side to shake off beastly spirits and hoping that no-one's listening to the manic heavy breathing sound effects. It's all a bit dodgy.
As well-intentioned as this remake probably was, the harsh truth is that the gameplay hasn't aged well. If you can stomach even a quarter of the game's 16 levels, you'll deserve a Medal of Honour for special feats of tolerance.
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