braid, geometry wars 2, and The Things I Should Be Playing

I am, in theory, playing Metroid Prime 3 at the moment. It’s not as super-great as the first Metroid Prime, but it’s still a great game, which I’d have finished back when I got it if not for the fact that Super Mario Galaxy came out a week later. Now, with GTA IV in the bag, I’ve come back to it, but last night when I should have been playing it, I got totally distracted by the new awesomeness on XBLA.

Geometry Wars 2 is a no-brainer, really — it takes the simple and super-fun gameplay of the original and remixes it in to six different game modes, all of which are a lot of fun. The evil beauty of it is the way it encourages score-chasing among friends. The mode selection screen has mini friends scoreboards next to each game mode, so you can see at a glance when someone has usurped that high-score you worked so hard on. Even worse, as you play, the next closest high score is displayed in the top right, so unless you’re at the top of your leaderboard you’ll always have your target score staring you in the face.

Braid is something entirely different. It’s a 2D platformer, but its emphasis is on puzzle-solving using time travel. Like Portal, it establishes a fairly simple set of mechanics, and then explores them for all they’re worth, putting your brain through a loop in the process. The artwork is gorgeous, with beautifully detailed hand-drawn levels and characters, and the music is impressive as well.

If you have a 360, get the demo of Braid right now. The rest of you, check out the PC version when it comes out later this year. Like Portal last year, I think this has real potential to be one of the true highlights of gaming this year.

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