Yet again, the best download games available this week end up being the cheapest. It's been a running theme for some time, but it seems that precious few of the games that demand more of our money are any good. Often caught in a tricky middle-ground between being not boxed product material, but being too expensive to develop to warrant throwing out at an impulse price, it's a graveyard for all but the very best.
Download discounting is everywhere right now, with numerous high-profile offerings including Alien Breed Impact and the entire Sam & Max range (including the still-fresh season 3) slashed in price.
It's hardly surprising. When you see truly great games going for 59p, who would take a punt on something 10 or 15 times the price unless it was absolutely brilliant? As someone tasked with wading through all manner of mediocrity, it's surprisingly rare to come across much worth bothering with above the £2 mark. And yet with so much dross released on PSP Minis, WiiWare and DSiWare at well above that level, you have to wonder how anyone's selling anything when there are so many quality alternatives elsewhere at a fraction of the price.
The sun is shining, the sky is blue, what better than to crack open a can of beer, forget about the football, and kick back in a lazy chair in the garden with this week's line-up of downloadable games. It's not a vintage collection this week, though, with a few dead-certs turning out to be rather limp, and interesting curiosities turning out to be little more than that.
But if you've got a PC or Mac, then one game you absolutely must not miss out on is the excellent Puzzle Dimension, developed by the brilliantly named Doctor Entertainment. Formed by a small team of veterans culled from the likes of IO, Starbreeze and DICE, these Scandinavians have come up with one of the most brain-bending 3D puzzle games you've ever seen. Save yourself the pain and misery of the World Cup and pick sunflowers while training your brain in the art of spatial visualisation instead.
Doing roundups of downloadable games is like being zapped back 20 years to a time when all games were this unpredictable. Released from the tedium of 18-month PR drip-feed, you're free to experience the element of surprise that used to accompany all videogames: a surprise that can cut both ways. Sometimes, the most instant games can turn out to be the most dull, while others - like Sam & Max - you expect to be formulaic, but end up confounding your expectations entirely. And then there are horribly confusing titles which turn out to be the most satisfying of all. The moral of this week's story? Never judge games by first impressions. You're probably wrong...
Zombie Panic In Wonderland
WiiWare / 1000 Wii Points (£7 / €10)