Game On: Project Zero 2
The dog-days of summer are dry times for video-games releases. And if you're a Wii owner, well, you must be parched. As its successor hoves into view with a pre-Christmas release, the Wii is heading for the graveyard.
That must partly explain why a remake of an eight-year-old PS2 game is one of the few titles deserving your consideration this month. But its worthiness also speaks to the quality of this tense horror classic which has been updated graphically and upgraded slightly for the Wii's controls.
Plot-wise, we're in familiar, which is to say kooky, Japanese territory. A pair of sisters get lost in a forest only to stumble on a creepy village haunted by spooks. Needless to say, one girl goes missing and her sister's only weapon against the ghouls is an ancient camera that captures their souls.
But you can only zap them up close. This leads to a fraught battle of nerves as you wait for the last possible second before shoving the camera in their tortured faces and blasting them to oblivion. Little concession is made to the Wii's motion controls, with actions such as pointing the camera and shining a torch awkwardly handled.
But with an atmosphere chillier than a meat-market freezer and laden with slow-burning tension, PZ2 will be cherished by fans of horror flicks such as The Ring and Blair Witch.
Ratchet & Clank Trilogy
R&C's adventures produced three of the finest games ever to grace the PS2 -- okay, two of the best but the first in the trilogy wasn't too shabby. The inevitability of a high-def re-issue was therefore never in doubt.
But for games almost 10 years old, they still hold up astonishingly well thanks to their mix of platforming, delightfully crazy weaponry and anarchic humour. The dose of digital Botox ensures the wise-cracking duo don't look out of place in the high-def era. Shame the cut-scenes are jarringly rendered in old-school low-res.
The series shows clear improvement over time, with R&C3 the high point of its inventiveness that broadens the gameplay satisfyingly beyond its core of bashing enemies and collecting bolts.
However, if you've played 'em all before, there's little new here to draw you beyond the admittedly engaging but short-lived multiplayer.
Beat the Beat: Rhythm Paradise
You take a risk by making the first mini-game in a collection so difficult some people may just give up.
But that's what faces the player in Beat the Beat, an amusing assortment of music-related challenges that rely on precise timing.
The opener seems simple -- tap A to hit a golf ball thrown your way -- but if you're arrhythmic like me, you may have trouble following the aural clues to the timing.
The game becomes a little more forgiving after that and works its way into your affection with its diverse range of pop tunes and barmy tasks (screw the head on to a robot, bounce on a seesaw).
Pity about multiplayer, though, which is poorly served by just a handful of games.