Hey, long time no see, guys! But it's time once again to funk yourself up for some exciting freeware action with me, your host, the guy who mysteriously disappeared for a week or so and left you having to spend money to get your gaming fix.
Sorry about that, but the new wife wouldn't have been too happy had I run off during the ceremony to find out how good Sushi Cat 2 was. Priorities, the bane of growing old. That's over for the time being though, so it's back to the daily grind of discovering, playing and writing about cartoon adventures and fourth wall-breaking RPGs.
First off, let's discuss the aforementioned fish-crazed feline. You may well have played the original Sushi Cat a while back, but creator Joey Betz has been hard at work perfecting his Peggle-with-cats formula for a full-blown follow-up.
Like Peggle, you have to drop your ball – or, in this case, giant blue moggy – down the screen, eating raw fish as you go. Collect different types to earn bonuses and landing in certain buckets at the bottom will give you more points.
Essentially, it's exactly the same as PopCap's uber-selling title, just with a more malleable bouncing device. Collecting all the special sushi on a level can unlock new outfits, like a pirate's eye patch and hat, for your bouncing moggy, but generally it's just a case of eating enough sushi (see Peggle's hit all the orange pegs) before you run out of cats to hurl downwards.
There are some notable differences that keep things interesting, like some levels being more than one screen in size, unlike Peggle's self-contained affairs. Bonus levels also appear, where it's possible to inflate your pussy to huge levels, just like in that porn film I saw. Wait, did I write that or just think it? Erm, yeah, ignore that last bit.
Sushi Cat 2 adds a few more elements to the basic Peggle/Sushi Cat mix that, while not essential, do add enough to warrant a play. There's also a storyline that evokes Super Meat Boy memories and, of course, it's still utterly adorable. Little sisters (or even big ones) will love this.
Next up is a RPG Maker effort attempting to satirise, spoof and send-up the fine, upstanding profession of games journalism. Games Journo Story sees you and your alleged friend are off to the Neurogamer Expo to play a load of games and then, presumably, write about them.
As with most if not all RPG Maker games, it's a Japanese-style retro top-down affair and you'll be wading through lots of supposedly hilarious dialogue crammed with in-jokes and things the creator thinks games journalists do. Along the way you'll meet the likes of Simile Gibs (Ellie Gibson), Johnny Is Minxy (well, you should be able to guess this one) and King Kohl (when you see him, you'll know).
The most important thing to remember about Games Journo Story is that, while it thinks it's amusing, it actually isn't. Well, conceptually it could be, but you'll quickly discover its just a boring game with 'internet humour' writing.
Clearly it's not meant to be taken seriously though, but it's received enough attention in the usual places to warrant more of an analysis than it might deserve. You move around with the arrow keys, read some dialogue and wonder why you're wasting your time with it. I know I did. It's funnier if you don't bother installing, downloading or playing it. Maybe I'm just in a grumpy mood, though.
Let's move on from there and try out Steve Ince's Mr Smoozles Goes Nutso. If you don't know who Mr Ince is, he's worked on the likes of Broken Sword and also The Witcher, providing localisation duties on the latter title. His own games project, Juniper Games, has released it for free, so head over to the above link to see just what such a bizarre title has in store for you.
Of course, curious names don't necessarily mean great games. Based on Ince's online comic strip featuring a cast of animal characters, the titular Mr Smoozles has had his mind fried by aliens and it's up to Ed, a grey cat, to stop his friend going, as you might have gathered, “nutso”.
Mr Smoozles is carrying a death ray, so it's clear Ed needs to work fast. You move him around using the arrow keys, with CTRL used to examine things and Enter to interact. Avoiding the maniacally blasting Smoozles while trying to complete each level is a challenge, but it's never too hard that you'll beat yourself to death with a stick in frustration. In fact, you could say it was slightly too easy.
Solace can be sought in some of the smaller buildings surrounding the main house area, which Mr Smoozles has a strange aversion to. Extra hints can be sought should you need them to solve puzzles, although this isn't necessarily immediately obvious.
There are also a couple of references to Beneath a Steel Sky and Broken Sword in there, which fans might spot. Well, the BASS one should at least be obvious.
It's a tidy adventure game and, most importantly, one that's no longer being charged for. In case Ince decides to change his mind, get over to his site pronto and download it.