Despite serving downloadable content since 1995 with the Satellaview, Nintendo still hasn't got a handle on how to best present and promote games that don't come in boxes. Nowhere is this more apparent than in the curious scrubland of DSiWare, the company's digital distribution platform for the latest iteration of its ubiquitous handheld.
In addition to the confusion that comes from the service's region-specific stores (which last week resulted in Q-Games' Dylan Cuthbert finding out his game Reflect Missile had gone on sale in America via Twitter) Nintendo's promotion of titles on the service is negligible, leaving gamers in the dark as to which games are arriving when, or why indeed they should care when they do turn up. Despite this, or rather because of it, there's a thrill to be found in panning for gold amongst the digital dross, one heightened when you do discover treasure.
Starship Patrol is treasure, a jewel of a game obscured by the plain rocks that surround it. Q-Games' second title for DSiWare, it forms an excellent companion piece to Reflect Missile, once again trimming away the superfluous fat of its influences while assuming an understated, minimalist aesthetic to deliver an elegant, engaging package. This time the developer takes on the divisive fixed-path Tower Defence form, in which you use funds to place fixed turrets onto a game board and then watch as your arrangement fends off wave after wave of enemy attackers.