Reviewed On: Xbox 360

Available On: Xbox 360

Publisher: Microsoft

Developer: The Behemoth

Ganre: Platforming

Age: 12 (PEGI)

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A crew of blockheaded friends are sailing the stormy seas in S.S. Friendship, a ship captained by Hatty Hattington when disaster strikes. The salty seadogs are washed up on unfamiliar shores, captured by fierce cats, and forced to carry out death-defying, platform jumping on stage - all in the name of entertainment.

As though things aren't strange enough, the cats put a magical top hat on Hatty Hattington, which forces him to hamper the progress of the players character through the arenas of perilous platforming action, laced with puzzles and mayhem.

The premise of the game is simple; to dash around the levels collecting as many gems as possible before heading for the exit. Players are then scored on how many gems they collected, the time taken, and whether they picked up a yarn ball.

Gems can be spent on rescuing new characters. They may have a triangle head, a spherical one; it could have horns, or a beard. These physical attributes can then be used by the players character, and with colours being customisable too, there are hundreds of combinations.

Yarn balls can be used to purchase new weapons which become essential when running into cats who try to thwart progress.

Although the gameplay itself is as good as a modern-day platformer, and the level design is as unique and fresh as any 2D side-scroller I've ever played, there are elements which feel brilliantly retro. Solid looking block which can be passed through to access hidden areas is an element not often used anymore, but one that developers The Behemoth do with finesse.

The music is bizarre and wacky, pleasurably varied, and totally fitting with gameplay and general ambience.

Co-operative play greatly enhances the fun of the excellent story mode, and the seven competitive multiplayer games are blisteringly awesome too. It's a well-rounded mutiplayer experience.

To increase longevity further than mutiplayer already does, a simple to use level-editor is also included. These are the same tools the developers used to create the levels in the first place, so the potential is there to craft some shiny creations of absolute brilliance.

The star of the show has to be the crazy narration and his excellently funny dialogue, delivered with superb confidence and panache. It makes Stephen Fry's hilarious narration in LittleBigPlanet seem as dull as dishwater - which it most certainly isn't.

All the charm of LittleBigPlanet, all the cheekiness of Bastion, and the platforming magic of Mario. It's everything that's great about platforming, dished-up up in one downloadable slice of insane gaming heaven. You'd be a block-head to miss it.

SCORE: 9 / 10

PROS: Great single player, comprehensive multiplayer, brilliant level design.

CONS: It's insanely addictive and could easily eat life - it's that good.