Calling occupants of interplanetary craft.

It's easy to get jaded as a games journalist. If you think you play a lot of games, think how many games the average reviewer gets through. And think about what it's like to have to play games to deadline, worrying how you're going to come up with another devastatingly clever and unique piece of insight that will distinguish your review from all the others out there. Think about getting so many free games that if a game doesn't amaze or astonish within about ten seconds it's on to the discard pile, never to be played again (or, if you're less scrupulous, on to eBay for a quick buck). Imagine playing so many games that you can only see Gears of War as yet another underwhelmingly brown/grey gruff-voiced third-person shooter, or Shadow of the Colossus as just a boring sequence of tediously lengthy boss battles.

Yep, it's easy to get jaded as a games journalist. So when a game like Contact comes along, a game fizzing with ideas and bristling with a smart postmodern attitude, it's actually pretty exciting. It starts with the manual, which is laid out as if it's a weblog - so it comes complete with a 'VirtuaDiary' (sample quote: "It seems a device called the 'DS' was able to pick up my signal."), a 'Fun Survey', and knowing references to memes. It continues with the opening menu, which resembles a close-up of a keyboard's function keys, and it persists throughout the game with all sorts of clever intertextual references, and continual acknowledgement of the fourth wall.

Indeed it's so clever you'll probably need to look up words like 'intertextual', 'postmodern' and 'semiotics' over on Wikipedia just to understand how clever it is. Even if you don't, you'll surely get the reference to the Genji meme when you're told to hit a boss's weak point for massive damage, and surely you'll spot the sly digs at the Microsoft Windows autoupdate feature. Heck, there's even a whole island of electronic games and the nerds who play them called Habara (almost Akihabara, see?). There's not been a game this entertainingly knowing since Bangai-O, which is almost what you'd expect a game developed by the same whacked out developer as Killer 7.

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Europe loses Contact

Until February, that is.

Rising Star has confirmed that Nintendo DS RPG Contact won't be with us in Europe until February.