“N+” (rated E, on sale to Xbox Live Gold subscribers for $5 through Monday): The “N” stands for ninja in this elegant, simple gem of a game. Each level is a little puzzle as well as a test of your agility and precision. The premise is this: Move your ninja with the left thumbstick and jump with the A button. Use a switch to unlock a door so you can move onto the next level before you run out of time. Gold coins you pick up along the way give you more time. That’s it. Your score is based on how much time you have left at the end of each set of puzzles, and the best players can upload replay of their exploits. Normally $10, this game is on sale for half price through Monday. Come on. Nearly any game is worth $5.
“Kodu Game Lab” (rated E, $5 download via Xbox Live’s Community Games channel): Microsoft actually snuck out game-design tool “Kodu” last week. But many gamers likely missed the title as it debuted on the Community Games channel rather than on the more widely viewed Xbox Live Arcade. What’s more, its release wasn’t plugged on Major Nelson’s blog, the usual outlet for new release announcements. Anyway, Kodu costs $5 and allows you to make a variety of simple games that you can share online. Sadly, you can only share with folks on your friends list, not the community as a whole. Once again, though, it’s worth mentioning that it’s just $5. I’ve spent more money than that on a candy bar.
“Battlefield 1943” (rated T, $15 Xbox Live Arcade or PlayStation Network download): This multiplayer-only, World War II first-person shooter takes place in the Pacific theater and is something of an interesting experiment. It’s not every day that a full-fledged World War II shooter skips retail and goes direct to download, but Electronic Arts, the game’s publisher, seems to have made the right move. A retail release would have either sold poorly, due to a budget price, or garnered complaints that it didn’t have enough features for a full-fledged retail title. At any rate, fans of World War II shooters finally have a game to play this console generation. It was looking a bit hairy there for a while. Worth noting: The PlayStation Network version of the game comes bundled with a free dashboard theme for a limited time.
“The Bigs 2” (rated E, $60 on Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3, $50 on Wii, $30 on PlayStation Portable, $20 on PlayStation 2): Curious how the sordid end to the steroid era in baseball has affected the feats-of-strength-centric world of arcade-style baseball games? Well, this is your best chance to find out. “The Bigs 2” comes with typical season, exhibition and build-a-player modes, but it also has Home-Run Pinball and minigames.
“BioShock” and “The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion” (both rated M, available together in a $40 bundle for Xbox 360 or a $30 bundle on PC): If you haven’t played what are arguably the best games of 2006 and 2007, this bundle of “BioShock” and “Oblivion” is worth a look.
“Skate 2” (rated T, $60 on Xbox 360 or PS3): The Maloof Money Cup Pack ($3 Xbox Live or PlayStation Network download): A cheapie piece of downloadable content adds the largest pursed event in real-life competitive skateboarding, plus the opportunity to earn 250 achievement points.
“California Games” (rated E, $5 download via the Wii’s Virtual Console): This Commodore 64 port should satisfy oldsters like me, who might have played the original on any of the myriad platforms it appeared on. Oh, to have grown up playing “California Games.” I moved to this state in 1999 thinking that, instead of following the NFL, MLB and NBA like people in other states, the denizens of California were into stuff like skateboarding, Hacky Sack and Frisbee.
“Bit.Trip Core” (rated E, $6 WiiWare download): This little indie title was the 100th WiiWare release, and it’s pulling down decent reviews thus far. The techno soundtrack, flashing lights and retro-style gameplay should appeal to fans of “Robotron”-inpsired shooting games like “Geometry Wars” or rhythm games like “Boom Boom Rocket.”
What I’ll be playing this weekend: I’ll be working much of the weekend, but I followed my own advice and picked up “N+” for $5 on Thursday. I finished the tutorial levels and had a good time, so I’ll likely return to that. I’ll also be delving into online play on “Magic: The Gathering – Duels of the Planeswalkers” with an eye toward reviewing it. Same thing with “Space Invaders Extreme” and “Arkanoid Live.” I may go back to find those last 10 blast shards in “inFAMOUS” and “The Bigs 2” looks enticing, as well.