Fret Nice (PlayStation Network, Xbox Live Arcade)
Sort of like LocoRoco meets Vib Ribbon? Run side-scrolling style and defeat enemies with rhythmical chain attacks that your character (or you with a guitar controller) unleash with perfectly-timed button presses. Like Vib Ribbon, the iconography you rely on to know which buttons to press isn’t very intuitive, here corresponding to their number of eyes, antenna and limbs. Awkward and kind of frustrating, I like the LocoRoco-ish art style and the oddly customizable player characters but it’ll require a hefty price cut to get me to buy.
Darwinia+ (Xbox Live Arcade)
For as indescribably perplexing as everyone made it out to be, I found this game to play like Pikmin only sometimes you can directly attack enemies and most of the time they ambush you and spawn out of nowhere to ruin your best laid plans. Clever or just cheap? It’s pretty at the least, trippy and full of demoscene love but I quickly deleted it from my 360.
Castlevania the Adventure ReBirth (WiiWare)
I actually bought this one but it’s such a short and feature-free game that it might as well have been a trial! Classic 8-bit Castlevania gameplay (and graphics) guaranteed a challenge that I wasn’t all that crazy about but was prepared for thanks to some pre-purchase coverage. Apparently it’s loosely based on a Game Boy Castlevania title but has been augmented to be almost unidentifiable. There’s a couple neat ideas that would warrant a second playthrough like access to alternate routes but I couldn’t get past the health-sucking maze of death with enough energy to reach Dracula, let alone finish. Retired within a week.
Lazy Raiders (Xbox Live Arcade)
I’m a sucker for games that let you use your Xbox Avatar, mostly because I’ve spent real money dressing up my virtual Shawn and any time I can use him in a game I feel a wee bit more justified. Lazy Raiders lets you flip and slide your pretend persona around a series of 3D mazes, not unlike a marble in a wooden puzzle box. The game looks fantastic since it’s locked in a 2D view with nice details and lush lighting. The physics feel nice too as you rotate the world and even flip it around like a coin to access a dark alternate version of each stage to find collectible treasures. I was pretty close to buying it but decided to wait for a sale at which time I still didn’t bit but, dammit, I wish I had right now!
Metal Gear Solid: Peace Walker (PSP)
I would just like to reiterate for the umpteenth time: the PSP does not have enough buttons or a comfortable enough layout for a serious 3D action game, especially a Metal Gear Solid title. I had my fingers wrapped up like a pretzel just trying to pop out from cover and I couldn’t even pull off the final CQC maneuver they showed me in the tutorial. It looks gorgeous and I really want to experience it but this is the absolute last place I’d ever want to play a game that focuses on the patient study of plodding soldier patrol paths. Please, Kojima-san, port this to XBLA or PSN ASAP, KTHX!
Final Fight Double Impact (PlayStation Network, Xbox Live Arcade)
“HE HE HE, Mister Haggar!” There’s no denying my love for Final Fight and this version — with for-real Achievements and separate in-game stat tracking rewards — is probably as much love as the brawler is ever going to get. It looks flawless, includes silly visual tricks to emulate the arcade machine and it even comes with the equally-loved Black Tiger on the flipside of the great user interface. You’d really think I would’ve bought it but I was still invested in Deadly Premonition at the time.
Part Deux brings us up to The Now and it’s coming tomorrow and then I think I’ll be caught up!