Bliss Island

Key events

12th March 2008

Xbox Live Arcade Roundup

12th January 2007

Bliss Island

PomPom Games' Michael Michael

Talking the Michael.

PomPom Games is possibly the most platform agnostic of all developers. Since the launch of Space Tripper as a downloadable PC title, the mostly two-man design team (Michael Michael does the art, Miles Visman handles the programming, while audio specialist James Drabble is also a regular collaborator) has spent the best part of a decade working on everything from the original Xbox's fledgling Live Arcade service to the iPhone. PomPom's games have even been ported to exercise machines - not a device with a particularly vocal fan-base.

PSN update: Killzone 2 demo tops bill

PSN update: Killzone 2 demo tops bill

Plus: Burnout Paradise, DLC, wallpapers.

A bundle of new stuff has appeared in the PlayStation Store, including a playable Killzone 2 demo.

It's likely to be in high demand, but we're downloading it right now and there don't appear to be any issues. Unless you live in Germany, of course, where the demo will not be released. Sorry, Germans.

Also out now is the Burnout Paradise Ultimate Bundle, priced at GBP 29.99 / EUR 34.99. For that you get the full (and excellent) game, all the free updates and the Party Pack. This is a new add-on which introduces a pass-the-pad mode for up to eight players, new challenges, and enhancements for the modes, visuals and vehicle dynamics. The Party Pack is available separately for GBP 7.99 / EUR 9.99.

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Xbox Live Arcade Roundup

Xbox Live Arcade Roundup

Bliss Island and Brain Challenge.

With that Wii-chasing price drop now confirmed, it's clear that Microsoft is aiming its 360 Arcade package right between the eyes of the family market. No doubt some are already clenching their fists and scowling about casual gamers and how they're ruining games and grumble grumble swear. Personally, I couldn't give a toss about the bane of casual games. Pretty much all the early classics of gaming, the basic templates of which are still in use, were casual by definition. I mean, imagine people wanting to play games just for fun. The fools!

With that in mind, this week's Live Arcade update provides two games designed to appeal to this audience. Neither do much to help my pro-casual argument, both being largely inessential, but their flaws lie more with lack of inspiration and make-do design, neither of which are unique to the casual end of the gaming spectrum. So there.

Bliss Island

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Thinking and puffing on XBLA this week

Brain Challenge and Bliss Island.

Gameloft's Brain Challenge and Codemasters' Bliss Island are tomorrow's Xbox Live Arcade downloads, priced at 800 Points (GBP 6.80 / EUR 9.60) and 400 Points (GBP 3.40 / EUR 4.80) respectively.

Bliss Island

Bliss Island

Like Temptation Island but no one's bothered. (Oh.)

Despite the success of Net Nanny, the Internet continues to turn everything upside down, all day long, often in front of the kids, and just as often against the odds. Instead of lining their copper pairs with gold, the ubiquity of broadband has sent phone companies into a mad panic. Instead of drowning among the proles, our maligned TV heroes have been reborn as cyberspace heroes. And instead of relegating simple games to the hyphenated subdomain of anonymity, it's proven a springboard to wider fame, whether it's Cloning Clyde on Xbox Live Arcade or, as we see here, Codemasters' attempt to wrestle money out of office time-waster Bliss Island by sticking it on the PSP.

A collection of nine mini-games (or perhaps ten - but more on that later), Pom Pom's com-pom-pilation, as I like stammering it, is about pointing with the analogue nub and pressing X or circle to direct puffs of air. So directed, these precise puffs fire fluffy balls at flowers, fire fruity balls into the mouths of hungry monsters, fire fluffy balls into billiards, fire fluffy balls into brick invaders, fire fluffy balls at musical crustaceans, fire fluffy bees around a racetrack, and fire fluffy balls through platform, stone-stepping and floaty side-scrolling fluff-courses. It's somewhat fluffy, and the kitsch graphics give it the look of a sort of weird, anthropomorphic mophead-mutant Pixar film, albeit one done by one of those crap studios who can barely spell "John Lasseter" let alone lick his boots. But I digress.

Obviously it's still not clear what it is, despite my describing everything you ever do in it, but that's actually deliberate. See, the tasks themselves are very simple, but they don't half faff around with the instruction. For example: "Hoshi enjoys the challenge of smashing the bricks as they crash down the side of the mountain. Use Hoshi's puffs of air, to move the brick ball in the direction the arrow is pointing. Don't let the brick ball fall off the bottom! Use the brick ball to hit the brick invaders. Destroy three of the same coloured bricks in a row. Don't let the bricks reach the bottom of the screen! Don't hit the angry bricks! Otherwise it's a strike and three strikes it's game over!"

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PSP heads to Bliss Island

Or vice versa.

Codemasters is set to bring Pompom Software's Bliss Island PC game to PlayStation Portable this winter, adding wireless multiplayer modes to the popular mini-game compilation.