Review: ilomilo (XBLA)

UPDATE: This review has been updated with purchase information to coincide with ilomilo‘s launch today.

Now then, what can be said about ilomilo? Breaking it down to its purest form, the game is a puzzle-platformer of sorts with fantastic graphics. Expanding on such simplicities, ilomilo is a divine creation filled with the kind of quirky madness and creativity that is sorely missing on the Xbox 360 of late. I won’t hide my shameless admiration for this game nor will I cover the few flaws if does contain but in this review, I’ll do my best to explain just why I think ilomilo is a wonderful triumph.

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The best games of 2010: Heavy Rain

This is an easy choice for me. Heavy Rain was so very different to other video games and treated its story as if it were the star instead of using it to justify game mechanics. Add to that some frankly stunning graphics and a true feeling of choice with every action you do having a purposeful effect on the narrative. There were a lot of mentally challenging scenes that presented me with mature adult situations, the likes not common in gaming. Do I kill an unarmed lunatic? Or drink a vile of poison for the final clue to the whereabouts of my kidnapped son? And how does someone react when watching a child drown because of the incompetence of adults? The best and most touching moment was taking control of Ethan Mars after picking his boy up from school. A scene that could have so easily have been the epitome of boredom became like a test for my own fatherly instincts, making sure my kid is fed and trying to discuss the death of his brother. And as quick time events go, Heavy Rain doesn’t do the usual button-press sequences. The process you’re going through to get the playable characters to respond tries to be representative of real life. Mars’ awkward traversal of an electrified maze is mirrored on the PlayStation pad by a finger-bending combination of button presses making the inclusion of QTEs a necessary one. All this brilliance, only sullied by a peculiar wrap to the story, had to make it into my top games of 2010.

The best games of 2010: Limbo

PlayDead Games didn’t just make a brilliant puzzler, they made an artistic masterpiece. Yeah, I know, the whole ‘games are art’ debate again but seriously, just look at Limbo and play the disturbed whimsy inside. A lot of love went into this game and is proven by its endearing art-style. Like a creepy shadow puppet theatre, Limbo relies on subtle contrasts of black and white creating a frightening world, thick with atmosphere and haunting audio. Not a word spoken or phrase read yet the game has a lot to say and features hints of a story that lets players come up with their own interpretation. And whereas continuous auto-saves feel like a cheat for other games, the structure of Limbo revolves around it, urging you to try every option and worry not about death. The flow between the challenging puzzles and the journey you take is seamless and addictive, never once becoming stale or forced. One of the XBLA greats for sure.

Review: Super Scribblenauts

To say that Super Scribblenauts is a true sequel to 5th Cell’s 2009 genius but flawed puzzler would be a bit of an exaggeration. The developers themselves refrained from giving it a numerical title but instead claim it to be a superior version of the original. And for all intense purposes, it is just that. Though in some weird twist of fate, Super Scribblenauts may have rid itself from the bigger problems of its predecessor but also lost a bit of the charm too.

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Chu Chu Rocket iPhone trailer

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One of the first online games from Sega was the ludicrous Chu Chu Rocket that pitted up to four mouse wranglers to save their stylised rodents from some hungry cats. Last month the game was announced for all iDevices and today Sega have released a trailer (via The Sixth Axis) showing the kind of madness iPhone and iPad gamers can expect.

The only date Sega have given Chu Chu Rocket is late October, which is now, so keep an eye on the App Store for its immanent release.

Quick review: eBoy FixPix (iPhone)

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One of the most famous and pixel artists, eBoy, has made a name for himself in all forms of medium and as his art shows, he clearly likes video games. Catering for an artistic audience, his move into the gaming scene had to be as creative as it was beautiful and his iPhone App, eBoy FixPix is exactly that. It’s a modern day puzzle game using the iPhone’s motion-tracking innards to fix his broken images. By broken I mean images that appear to be multilayered with those layers subtly or dramatically unaligned. By rotating the iPhone in various angles, these layers move independently until you hit that sweet spot and the image is complete. Separating the images in this way exposes detail that wouldn’t normally be seen in the pic. A minor gripe is how you can find yourself in some very weird positions trying to line up the images and sometimes the accuracy of alignment is rather strict. A few puzzles looked as if they were complete but were not until a moved my phone a fraction to hear the retro victory music played after every successful puzzle.

FixPix contains 100 levels (or images) in one continuous stream. Once you complete a pic you move onto the next without being able to replay that level until you finish the game and start all over again. It wouldn’t normally be a problem but when you play with a group of friends – something I found to be really enjoyable with FixPix – the completionist in me wanted to solve the puzzles my friends had done rather than being forced onwards. And the art on show is fantastic so the option to saver these at a later date would have been nice.

But that aside, £1.19 for a unique puzzle game with some fantastic artwork with pittance to pay when you and a group of friends can have so much fun. It’s been out for a few months so there’s no need to wait, grab yourself a copy of eBoy FixPix and get fixing!

An outstanding experience that goes above and beyond expectations.

All aboard, ChuChu Rocket heads to iPhone and iPad

If you can think of one game from Sega’s line of unappreciated Dreamcast titles that would be perfect for this generation of touch devices, what would it be? No not that one but ChuChu Rocket! Yesterday was the Dreamcast’s eleventh anniversary and with it came news (via Slide to Play) that Sega’s multiplayer marvel would be heading to iPhones and iPads in late October.

If you’ve not played it before, ChuChu Rocket is a puzzle game that can be played alone or with up to four players who have to try and coerce 100 mice into the safety of a rocket by means of directional arrows. Each player has a coloured arrow and are awarded points for the number of mice make it out alive as there are also bi-pedal cats lumbering around the 100 maps, 50 levels and 25 levels. Local wifi and Bluetooth allows for the game to be played with friends with it taking full advantage of Apple’s new Game Centre functionality. Trust me, ChuChu Rocket is mental and terribly addictive too so be warned because you may not be able to put it down!