The low down on download

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Remember that new game smell? the unwrapping of the plastic seal, the little leaflets jammed inside that you mearly glanced at. Would you miss all that if it were no more?

I’ve no doubt “full” retail games will be around for a long time yet, but it is scary to think that in the summer of 2008 I’ve spent more cash and interest on downloadable games then I have time spent in smelly game stores.

So why is this? well for starters, the summer months are pretty bloody awful for retail games. For money making reasons game company’s like to release all of their games at the end of the year, at the same damn time. So while the end of year is an amazing time for us gamers to try and rush through all our games, staying on top of the “cool food chain” by showing up on outr friends list as playing the “in” game at the time, it makes for a lonely hot summer playing over old hat. There is however a change in the current thanks to the power of the interwebs. Because unlike 20 billion dollar retail games, smaller game company’s like Pixel Junk can put a game together in a few months and because they’re cutting out the middle man, can put the game up pretty soon after it’s finished.

So what games are worth checking out? well, Live Arcade and PSN both have a decent catalogue of games already at their disposable, but this summer really saw both services spike with great content.

Geometry Wars 2

One of the first games to kick of the summers blockbuster downloadable games was Geometry Wars 2. The first game was described as the XBox 360’s “Halo” in terms of a launch game, so no pressure for Bizarre to deliver an even better sequel then.

While the game stays very true to it’s big brothers roots (move with the left stick, shoot with the right) it’s the 6 new modes that set it apart. Along with the integrated friends leader boards, improved visuals and offline multiplayer, for 800 points there is alot of game here for your buck.

Pixeljunk Eden

When ‘Pixel Junk’ released their first game on PSN ‘Pixel Junk Racers’ nobody would ever have thought a few months later they’d go ahead and release a game solely about swinging around the garden of eden.

PixelJunk Eden, the company’s third PSN game to date sees you playing as a “Grimp”, a small creature that maneuvers itself by jumping from and attaching itself to plant-like structures. While that sounds easy, it’s the Pixel (¬ ¬) perfect swinging and jumping the game demands of you that creates the games challanges.

While the likes of Geo Wars 2 and Stardust HD both offer a more old school/traditional approach to downloadable games, Eden really is offering you something mind bendingly different.

The game is priced at €7.99 (£6) (a demo is also available)

Braid

Take Mario, add two table spoons of Prince of Persia, a bucket load of hardcore puzzle solving and you leave to cool.

Braid, this years ‘Portal’ apparently (then again, I’m hearing that alot these days) puts you in a platform world, gives you time controlling powers, and then rips away every bit of knowledge and skill you thought you ever had to play games. The game works similar to ‘Sands of Time’ in the way that, when you die you can reverse back time to correct your error. However, the game also uses time to have you perform the crazyest puzzle solving, jumping and leaping about you’ll ever have the pleasure of heart attack enduring.

Braid is not for everybody (And for 1200 points you’d better well like it) it is however, one of the most interesting and quirky downloadable games to hit the arcade. More of this please.

Castle Crashers

Developed by The Behemoth, ‘Castle Crashers’, is the company’s second console game. Having worked on ‘Alien Hominid’ they’ve returned with a 4 player side scroller, playable locally or over LIVE.

The game sees you take control one of four Knights, each with unique powers. If it’s anything like ‘The Behemoth’s’ previous work, Castle Crashers will offer a hardcore, but comic like experience.

The game launches this Wednesday on Live Arcade for 1200 points.

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