What's new on the wire this week...
WiiWare -- One new game, 3D Pixel Racers, which has a really neat retro/modern art style. The cars are made up of 3-D pixels, what we used to call voxels back in the days before it was clear that polygons were going to rule. So everything looks like it's built out of square Lego blocks, but the lighting and shading looks very modern and naturalistic. I have no idea how it plays, but I really like the look.
Wii Virtual Console -- Nothing here this week.
DSiWare -- It seems like Nintendo's focus for downloadable content is shifting to the handhelds. The DSi gets four titles that are also available on the 3DS. Extreme Hangman 2 is, yep, a sequel to the popular stick-figure hangman game, rated E10+ for cartoon violence (which seems a bit lenient, actually, having seen a clip of a stick-figure hanging man choking and writhing while the player tries to guess letters.) AfterZoom purports to use the DSi/3DS camera as a microscope, but all it really does is zoom way in on whatever you're looking at and then superimpose animated "microbes" on the image; if it inspires some real learning, I'm all for it, but I hope it's clear to youngsters that it's just a toy. Puzzle Fever is a puzzle game with Tetris-like pieces that must be fit onto the board in a specific configuration. Just SING! 80s Collection features songs that will get stuck in your head for days, though these karaoke tracks don't feature the original artists.
Nintendo 3DS eShop -- In addition to all the DSi games above, 3DS owners also get the Game Boy Baseball title, and the original Game Boy Game & Watch Gallery, with (semi-faithful) original and updated versions of four classic Nintendo handhelds; the GBA game later on was more accurate, but these designs are still good for a quick play. The 3DS also now has its very own Netflix player, so subscribers can stream movies and TV over the web.
XBox Live Arcade -- The Summer of Arcade is nearly upon us, but a few relatively hype-free titles arrived this week just the same. Ms. Splosion Man should be worth checking out -- the original fun (and difficult) platformer from 2009 definitely merits a sequel. Boulder Dash XL ought to please old-school fans who miss Rockford and his boulder-dodging diamond hunts; I was pleasantly surprised to discover that it's from the original Boulder Dash publisher, First Star Software, founded in 1982 and still in business. Warhammer 40,000: Kill Team brings the original Space Marines to the 360 in a colorful, fast-paced twin-stick arcade shooter.
PS3 on PSN -- Nothing new for the PS3 this week; apparently the recent flood of games was just catchup from the lengthy, security-driven PSN outage a few months back.
PSOne Classics -- Zzzzzzz. With so many great PSX games published for Sony's original, very successful system, it seems odd that more publishers aren't scraping up a few extra bucks from the back catalog here.
Steam -- Just kidding! I'm not even going to TRY to keep up with the PC downloadable gaming world. But it's yet another sign that gaming is moving into the digital realm for distribution as well as expression.