Bit.Trip VOID (WiiWare)
The 3rd in what looks to be an enduring series that really epitomises what I love best about WiiWare: small developers putting out interesting little titles that would probably not see the light of day as disc releases. In this one players use the analogue stick on the nunchuk to manoeuvre a black void about a playfield whilst little white and black dots stream by like flocks of birds. You want to collect the black dots and avoid the white ones. The more black ones you collect the more your score increases, though your void will also increase in size making it difficult to avoid the white dots that will penalise your score and take you closer to the Nether zone (as in previous Bit.Trip games doing well gets you more complex music and background visuals; messing up strips these away and ultimately ends the game).
There are checkpoints in each of the levels which makes this game a bit more accessible than the previous two entries, but that doesn’t make it any easier. There’s a lot of dots to collect (and avoid) and other than the control stick your only other weapon is the ability to proactively shrink your void to dodge the white dot onslaught. I can only look forward to the next “trip” from Gaijin and wonder if these guys can keep delivering the quality!
We’ve been waiting for this seemingly forever in Europe, but it’s well worth the wait. It’s a horror puzzle game that feels like it could have come from any era and has a solid mechanic based around creating light paths through shadow-covered rooms to move from a starting point to the exit. You need to collect items like slingshots (for shooting out windows) and interact with objects on the playfield like computers and light switches to get through the monster-infested dark places that will instantly kill you should you stray from the path you create. The setting is a high school and your protagonist is trying to find his girlfriend who will phone you from time to time.
There’s extra items to find and getting all the phone calls will get you some kind of bonus so the replay value is definitely there. Changing views for projectiles and the different controls for different items can feel a little awkward, but overall it’s a great little game and a welcome addition to the service. Definitely worth checking out.
This was an early WiiWare release and to be honest one I had totally skipped because it didn’t look that interesting. I like a good puzzle game, but this seemed too aimless for me. The only reason I bought it was to use up the spare 700 points I had laying about so I could cash in a big points card, but I’m glad I did because it’s a nice little game. Popping bubbles is deceptively easy, but you’ve got a timer rapidly counting down that initially seems like it will never run out, but in time chaining bubbles whilst avoiding misses or popping penalty-bearing skull bubbles becomes more difficult. There’s a never-ending zone-out mode where you can pop bubbles as a form of self-hypnosis or you can go for high scores on worldwide leaderboards or spam your Wii friends with your bubble-busting prowess. Nice job guys!
Bosconian (Virtual Console Arcade)
Another arcade classic from our friends at Namco. Bosconian is a seminal release: one of the first games to feature voice sampling (though garbled to amusing effect), one of the first games to offer the ability to continue and one of the few shooters to allow players to travel in any direction in a defined multi-screen playfield. There’s a radar handy for finding the starbases you’re tasked with destroying whilst avoiding enemy ships. It’s a great game and definitely worth picking up.