There are good games, bad games, and games that have the capacity to dominate your life.
Dark Nebula - Episode Two, for better or worse, is the sort of engrossing game that could easily make you lose your job, alienate yourself from your friends, and scupper your relationships.
That's a roundabout way of saying this sequel is infinitely more entertaining than the original.
While it rightfully can be labelled as a typical ball-rolling platformer, Dark Nebula - Episode Two achieves that ever-elusive balance between fairness and challenge. It doesn't want to trick you, it doesn't want to fox you – it just wants you to have fun.
The idea is to use the accelerometer to guide a puck through a series of stages riddled with pitfalls, laser beams, and hazards. Thankfully, there's no race against a clock - instead, it's all about skillfully making your way past the myriad obstacles that stand in your way.
Most levels combine mini-brainteasers with a bit of action. Taking down enemy spheres fitted with spikes, for instance, requires your own form of weaponry: a force field of sorts that's equipped only if and when you can find it.
As such, Dark Nebula - Episode Two forces your brain to work in two different ways: one half treating the game as a maze with hidden treasures to be found (collecting 100 capsules – some on your path, some off the beaten track – adds an extra life), while the other half is a platformer, where jumping between moving platforms and springs forms the backbone of play.
An eye for design
It's a thoroughly polished experience. Each level has clearly been tested and retested to ensure that every possible rough edge has been smoothed.
Furthermore, the difficulty gradually increases, upping the ante by adding a hurdle or two as you progress, instead of spiking unfairly. Yet the game preserves a sense of excitement. There's no drop off or lull in proceedings – you're strapped in from the first second to the last.
Benefiting from sublime handling and some gloriously retro level design, Dark Nebula - Episode Two is the perfect lovechild of an esteemed puzzler and an inventive platformer.