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.
This week there were way too many releases to do the download scene full justice, so we'll try to get to G-Rev's shooter Strania next week, as well as the likes of Dino D-Day (Dinosaurs! In World War II!), Dungeon Hunter and the various PSP Minis and DSiWare nuggets that invariably look rubbish at first glance, but turn out to be rather good.
So, queue up those downloads, draw the blinds and ignore the warmest start to April in living memory.
The Dishwasher: Dead Samurai creator James Silva may have only recently unveiled a sequel, but already he's told Eurogamer that plans for a third game are laid down.
Developer Ska Studios has lifted the lid on The Dishwasher: Vampire Smile, an Xbox Live Arcade follow-up to The Dishwasher: Dead Samurai.
The Dishwasher: Dead Samurai is a side-scrolling 2D beat-'em-up in which you, an undead samurai dishwasher, mash up various cuts of cyborg and zombies using a range of sharp implements. So far, so Xbox Live Arcade, but the impressive thing is that it has all been put together by one man: James Silva, winner of the Microsoft Dream Build Play contest. The more impressive thing is that he's done a better job than the majority of full-time developers making Xbox Live Arcade games. And not just in a patronising, "Aw, hasn't he done well?" sense, but in a, "If you worked on Watchmen: The End is Nigh, how do you f***ing sleep at night?" sort of way.
The key to this is the game's ultraviolent combat system and enemy design, which allow for a delightful range of combination attacks, juggles, weapon-switches and finishers, and a huge variety of scenarios upon which to practice them. At first there are the Feds, who fire the odd projectile and slap you about, but most of whom can be outwitted with Y-button thrusting strikes, triple-X-and-up block-breakers and downward-slashing aerial attacks. They're soon joined by Special Forces, who use the right-stick evade technique you also have, block more, and use grappling hooks to winch themselves into the sky and fire their guns diagonally downward, or drop an area-effect grenade. Then you get ED-209 homages, and masses of easy-meat zombies, and jetpack troopers with heat-seeking missiles, and worse.
With so many enemies and effects to pick through, things get a bit frantic, but there are enough visual and audio cues to quickly stitch together reactions and try and fold them into growing combos - stacked up by a cooldown meter in the top-right - without succumbing to their attacks, which is the tricky part. The Dishwasher certainly doesn't mind knocking you about, forcing you to stock up on health supplies and continue-heart pieces at the occasional weird-robot-head vendor thing, when you'd rather be investing the pickup currency in weapon upgrades and other specials.
Microsoft has announced that James Silva's The Dishwasher: Dead Samurai will be released for Xbox Live Arcade tomorrow, 1st April.
Good news, Internet! Those XNA community game trials that no one can figure out how to download will be available until midnight PST on Tuesday, 26th February.
So, many moons after the XNA (Xbox Nautical Acclimatiser) was first announced, we're finally getting to see the fruits of all those amateur coders, beavering away over a hot keyboard. Seven preview versions of XNA titles are available from the Xbox Live Marketplace, but will turn into smoke and be blown away on a fragrant breeze in just over two weeks time.
Microsoft has announced the winners of its Dream-Build-Play competition, and handed out publishing contracts to four community XNA-built games.