News From the Downloadable Front

I’d like to present a couple of nice downloadable console games that have recently been released. Here’s a quick run-down:

  • Geometry Wars: Retro Evolved 2 (Xbox 360): For those who don’t know, Geometry Wars is a multi-directional shoot ’em up with a limited playfield. It’s controlled Robotron-style: the left stick moves the ship, right stick fires in the chosen direction. Geometry Wars is known for very hectic gameplay, with tons of enemies swarming around your ship, and you’re basically always on the run, trying not to hit anything. This newest incarnation of the game introduces a lot of new game modes, most of which are really addictive, like Pacifism, where you can’t shoot but instead try to lead swarms of enemies into exploding gates. Or King, which defines random circular zones on the level, which are the only places that you can use your weapon, while at the same time, enemies can’t penetrate the circle. After a while, the zone closes and you have to somehow get to the next one unharmed. Geometry Wars is a shmup played for high-score, and it definitely shows in this version. The next highest score of your friends are always being displayed, challenging you to try just one more time to beat there scores. The multiplier can now be increased by collecting geoms from destroyed enemies (an element taken from Geometry Wars Galaxies on the Wii) and it stays when you lose a life. The graphics are highly stylized, psychedelic and abstract. Add to this a fitting techno-soundtrack with dynamically applied low-pass filters in certain game situations and you have a whole-hearted recommendation from me.
  • Braid (Xbox 360): This one has already been all over the net, and I came to the party kind of late. At first I wasn’t very interested, but then I gave the demo a try and was instantly convinced. It’s a very artsy game, with hand-painted graphics and an environment that’s constantly animated in a very dreamy and painterly fashion. In principle, the game is a platformer that requires you to solve puzzles (quite literary), but with the added twist that you can reverse time at any point in the level. Accidentally fell into a pit? Press X and you’re on the platform again. Missed that evil killer bunny popping up from the ground? Rewind and try again. This an excellent feature, because it makes playing platform games a lot less frustrating. You basically can’t die. However, there’s a lot more to this feature, since it’s a crucial element in solving the (for me at least) really difficult puzzles in all the different levels. Later worlds add more elements, like a shadow version of yourself that replays your last actions after you rewind, or a ring that you can lay on the ground and that slows down time around it. Once again, you should really give this game a try. It’s a unique gaming experience that’s well worth the money. You can check out this gameplay-video of world 2 (warning: spoilers!)
  • Defend Your Castle (Wii): This is a very simple casual game with a high grade of addiction. Your paper-cut castle has to be defend from stick-men attacking constantly from the left on the screen. All you have to do is pick them up and throw them in the air with the Wii controller. That’s the whole game, really. Well, of course you can also upgrade/repair your castle after each round, investing the money you earned by killing stick-men. Upgrades include a pit that converts stick-men to soldiers of your own colour, which you can then use as archers, explosive experts, sorcerers or handymen that repair your castle as it’s being assaulted. The game sports an analogue look (hand-written menus, clouds made of cotton etc) which is really refreshing and funny for a while at least. Of course it’s very repetitive, but I think playing it with one or more friends will make it a nice party game.

I think it’s great how downloadable games turn out to be some of the most interesting and innovative games of this current console generation. Being a collector myself, I was very sceptical of downloadable content at first. I really like to have a box for my game to place it on a shelf. However, if this is now the only way for independent developers to release unique new game concepts, so be it. I’ll be glad to support them.


Leave a Reply

Enter this code