I’ve spent most of the evening playing a fantastic new platform arena shooter called Super Crate Box. Now, I don’t really need to prattle on about how great it is - it would take less than five minutes for you to download this free game and find out for yourselves. However, what I am going to do is write a few words about the things that the developers, Vlambeer, have done really right from a design perspective.
The Mortal Engines Quartet - I read these all at once earlier this year, after my wife bought them for me for Christmas. I found them to be inspiring and evocative - often finding myself mentally visualising the scenes in vivid, cinematic detail. The pervading themes of the series, along with the unlikely child heroes, the ruined Earth, the lovingly described dirigibles, and the epic scale of the mobile cannibal cities - it felt as if Mr Reeve had somehow burgled directly from the brain of Hayao Miyazaki himself, but in a good way.
I’ve been on a steady drip feed of SMG2 since my pre-order arrived the day before the UK launch (rumour has it that there were several outlets that broke the street date way earlier than that). Or rather, we’ve been on a steady drip, as Nintendo have expanded on their genius decision in the first game to add a collaborative play element. My wife has been there for every one of the 98 stars collected so far, helping out by collecting power-ups and taking out enemies.
It makes it a really nice experience for couples like us - both gamers, but one much more so than the other. The co-star system really brings the other party into the game in such a unique and rewarding way, unlike in the first game where P2 was only really able to collect star bits.
On top of that, SMG2 has some of the best level design I’ve ever seen in a game, and there hasn’t been a single galaxy that didn’t surprise or impress me in some way. I hear that there’s a bunch of extra stars to collect once the main quest is completed, but I’m in no hurry to get them. This is one of those games that you really want to savour.