From The Armchair: Affordable Fun

ArmchairWhat ho, chums!

Well, what a wonderful week I’ve had. I downloaded Affordable Space Adventures for the Wii U on Saturday, and it has proved to be an instant hit in the Merriweather household, with even the normally video-game-reticent Ms. D singing its praises.

The game is one of those rare beasts – a Wii U title that actually uses the Wii U gamepad’s capabilities. Apart from the launch games ZombiU and NintendoLand, I can’t think of a single game that has properly taken advantage of the Wii U’s unique control scheme and its opportunities for asymmetrical multiplayer, but Affordable Space Adventures does just that to great effect. The gamepad screen acts as the engineering console, an essential display that lets you divert power to various functions of the ship. This is the key to getting past enemies and obstacles – and at some points you need to switch the engine off completely to avoid detection. Steering the ship, on the other hand, is taken care of by the left stick, and the right stick is devoted to scanning. The game even requires you to pitch the gamepad to alter the angle of your ship – if it used the camera and had amiibo support as well, it would pretty much tick off all the gamepad’s functions.

The engineer takes care of the dials on the gamepad screen, while the pilot steers the ship (on the right).
The engineer takes care of the dials on the gamepad screen, while the pilot steers the ship (on the right).

But the really brilliant thing about this game is the cooperative multiplayer, in which one player does steering (using a Wii remote and nunchuk), another does the scanning, and the third acts as engineer (if you’re playing with just two people, the engineer does the scanning too). Not since Trine 2 have I had so much fun romping through a game in coop – having to work as a team adds immensely to the game’s appeal, and leads to some brilliant eureka moments as a puzzle clicks into place (along with some utterly hilarious fails).

“What are you doing? I wasn’t ready yet!”


“Give me thrust! Give me thrust! Nooooooooo!”

All in all, I can’t recommend this game highly enough. If you have a Wii U, get it now. And if you don’t have a Wii U, why the hell not? Seriously, there are so many unmissable games on it and it’s only, what, 200 quid? Come on.

And speaking of affordable fun, I also downloaded Box Boy! for the 3DS at the weekend for a shade under a fiver. It’s a Game Boy-style minimalist puzzle platformer that does a wonderful job of creating a genuinely charming character from very few parts. Just a box with legs, in fact. It’s also highly addictive, and I’ve been playing it whenever I have a few minutes to spare. In fact, the short levels are perfectly suited for quick bursts of play between bus stops. The game itself isn’t particularly long, or even amazingly challenging, but I’ve loved every minute of it, and like Affordable Space Adventures, it comes highly recommended.

Toodle pip for now!

Box Boy - I love the Game Boy-style minimalist graphics.
Box Boy – I love the Game Boy-style minimalist graphics.