Your job is to guide a set of clockwork Mario characters towards gaudily lit exit doors while helping them avoid spiked pits and enemies.
To start off with, that means using the stylus to draw girders that create safe pathways for your tiny robotic wards, but soon enough you’ll be adding and removing trampolines, conveyor belts, cannons, teleport pipes and all sorts of other trickery, which is applied simply at first before getting a lot more obtuse. Later levels don’t just require you to know what moves to make and in which order, they also need you to time it all perfectly, although the learning curve is so finely judged you barely notice the complexity being cranked up. It does very little that is new, mostly content to recycle ideas from past Mario vs Donkey Kong outings, but it benefits from Nintendo’s customary degree of refined level design and you receive both formats (Wii U and 3DS) for one price.
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Helldivers is a twin-stick shooter, where one joystick manoeuvres your small soldier around the surface of various alien worlds, and the other aims his gun. What separates Helldivers from the many games that fit this description is its multiplayer mode, where you get together with up to three chums to take on the game’s baddy-infested wastelands. You’ll need to be careful, though, because your gunfire mows down friends as well as enemies, as do “stratagems”, which is Helldiver jargon for satellite drops that plummet down from orbit at supersonic speeds. There’s also an overarching meta-game that sees you vie for control of planetary systems with your three enemies: the bugs, cyborgs and illuminates. Most of Helldiver’s problems come from players manifestly too weak for the level you’re playing joining in and accidentally shooting you in the back, although playing on your own or with friends fixes that.
Sony Computer Entertainment, £16.99
AdVenture Capitalist, iOS
There are few games that sound more unprepossessing than AdVenture Capitalist. In it you sit and watch a set of businesses make money, first by tapping on them to begin production, but soon enough without even this minimal interaction as you hire managers to tap for you. Starting with a lemonade stand, you soon diversify into a paper round, car washing and pizza delivery, eventually working your way up to ownership of a bank and an oil conglomerate. Buying upgrades for your companies improves their profitability, and you can attract angel investors who act as revenue multipliers. Despite sounding like a staggeringly dull concept for a video game, the reality is strangely compelling; the gradual acceleration of virtual money generation proving inexplicably satisfying, and each restart with a larger base of angel investors changing the trajectory of your trading just enough to sustain interest. It’s utterly pointless and you need no skill whatsoever, but good luck putting it down.
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