Gamewatch: Darkspore, Outland

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Screenshot from Outland

EA’s Darkspore (PC) arrives this week, not quite three years after Will Wright’s Spore wriggled out of the protoplasm. It’s also clearly not a Will Wright game, and you might even call it an attempt to cash in on the technology with a mainstream-friendlier hack-and-slash. Gone is the offbeat laboratory atmosphere, replaced by frenetic Diablo-inspired click-butchery that stresses online cooperative play over offline solo. The twist involves customizing little battle-monsters, but don’t look for Spore’s build-it-yourself mode--Darkspore’s all about pre-fab critters, to which you’re simply grafting special abilities. ETA: April 26

If you'd rather kick it somewhat older-school, Outland (PS3, Xbox 360) combines platform-hopping with another nigh forgotten genre: Side-scrolling shoot-em-up. The storyline sounds a little Manichaean (light versus darkness), but the screens and videos look beautiful. According to Ubisoft, there's "swordplay," "running," "jumping," "climbing," "dodging," and the music's by Ari Pulkkinen, the Trine guy. ETA: April 27

The rest due this week, by platform.

PC: Assassin's Creed: Ultimate Collection, Ether Saga Odyssey (online), Hector: Badge of Carnage - Episode 1: We Negotiate With Terrorists (online), Jurassic Park: The Game (online), King of Kings 3: Dragon God Resurrection (online), School 26 (online)

Xbox 360: Man vs. Wild, Nin2-Jump (XBLA), Trouble Witches Neo! (XBLA)

PlayStation 3: Man vs. Wild

Wii: Aladdin Magic Racer, Man vs. Wild, Remington Super Slam Hunting Alaska

Nintendo DS: Airport Mania: First Flight (DSiWare)

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