Spelunky; Inversion; Beat the Beat: Rhythm Paradise; Outwitters – Review shorts

A quick-fire review summary of some of the titles we've been playing over the last couple of weeks.

Spelunky

Spelunky brings 8-bit style platforming to Xbox Live, courtesy of Derek Yu, and it’s easy to see his passion for all things retro shining through. A charming platformer channeling both Indiana Jones’ whip-cracking panache and Mario’s precision jumping, it’s essentially an update of an obscure Pitfall-influenced game from the 1980s that featured the titular Spelunker exploring wild caves in search of treasure.

Here the story is much the same – choose between four disparate but equally cute adventurers (with more to unlock) and set off on an old-school journey to net yourself some serious gold. Using grappling hooks to climb and bombs to burrow, there’s a joyful simplicity that radiates from the design as you tear around the randomly-generated levels, dodging spikes, snakes, yeti and man-eating fauna like its 1991.

The game declines the soft options prevalent in contemporary gaming, refusing to dole out easily-won checkpoints in favour of starting you from the top. There’s also an exceptionally frantic deathwatch mode, although it’s perhaps too chaotic to hold your attention for long. Slightly quaint but completely loveable, the idea of excavating something archaic from a new release that still ends up a fair distance from ‘modern’ is a good one, and the dedication to gameplay as opposed to superfluous visuals or gimmicks is laudable.

Score: 4/5

By Sam Gill

Format: Xbox 360 via XBLA
Price: £10.20 (1200 MS Points)
Developer: Derek Yu
Publisher: Microsoft


Inversion

What goes up needn’t necessarily come down in Inversion, a cover-based first-person shooter which, via his “Gravlink” device, hero Davis Russel can control gravitational forces – enabling him to send enemies floating away, or else sending parked cars for example careering towards hostiles. The battlefield is similarly affected, with up, down, left & right quickly replacing each other as combat takes place along vertical surfaces and across ceilings.

A different approach to the FPS no doubt, though one which never quite seem either perfectly executed or implemented as battles – despite the gravity shifts – play out just as they would in any other shooter, while pitching cars or creating cover is so clunky as to be rarely worth the effort.

Score: 2/5

Format: PS3, Xbox 360
Price: £29.99-£34.99
Developer: Saber Interactive
Publisher: Namco Bandai


Beat the Beat: Rhythm Paradise

Ever played golf to a mambo or screwed the head on to a robot to electronica? Neither had I until Rhythm Paradise graced my increasingly disused Wii, reinvigorating my long-in-the-tooth system with a series of catchy tunes and downright addicting gameplay. the premise is a simple one, keep time with a series of increasingly complex beats to complete tasks consisting of anything from stopping footballs from interfering with a gopher’s date (yes, really), to competing in one of the most competitive bouts of see-saw I’ve ever seen. Clean cartoon visuals and sprinkling of multiplayer modes completing an experience bound to leave a smile on your face.

Score: 3/5

Format: Wii
Price: £34.99
Developer: Nintendo
Publisher: Nintendo


Outwitters

Developed by One Man Left Studios, Outwitters brings turn-based strategy to iOS, as you battle for control of the hegaxon-derived environments. Each turn, both players are allocated 5 points to spend, and balancing the allocation of these points is where the skill lies, whether flanking an opponent, attacking directly or creating more troops for your army as you fight across the crisply-rendered landscapes. Outwitters’ simple but addictive online league play supports up to five games at a time, although pass-and-play is available if you’re not connected to the net. Expect fine tuning in future updates as some minor bugs are fixed, but even as is it’s well worth picking up.

Score: 3/5

By Sam Gill

Format: iOS
Price: £Free
Developer: One Man Left
Publisher: One Man Left

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