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Scatfest 2008

Feature: Eight of the shoddiest games available

Ever seen a rack of suspiciously cheap games you've never heard of? These are the impulse purchases of the console world, the two-for-one bargains that seem almost too good to be true, and are rarely - if ever - covered in the specialist gaming press.

So we thought we'd round up some of our favourites this summer, and keep them away from the normal reviews section where they might not fare so well. Instead, we bid you welcome to Scatfest 2008, a celebration of all things shonky and cheap.

Bear in mind that if you didn't manage to get a ticket for the Reading Festival this year, you could use the money you saved to buy all of the games featured in these pages, brand new. We wouldn't necessarily recommend it, but you could.

Jumper

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When the police tomorrow stumble onto our cold dead bodies splattered all over the pavement at the base of NGamer Towers and begin to ponder what happened, tell them this: it was Billy Elliot, with the bowie knife, in the Colosseum.

Brash's adaptation of Doug Liman's lacklustre action movie will make jumpers of us all.

Small mercies first. Hayden Christensen, the film's lead and the acting equivalent of bark, has been swapped out for the slightly more charismatic Jamie Bell, albeit a Jamie Bell beaten with the digital rendering ugly stick.

The rest of it? Shows no mercy. Environments that would make the N64 gag are populated by cel-shaded digital puppets that quiver and glitch like one of the meat-based horrors from Silent Hill.

Combat revolves around the 'jumping' ability - warping to an enemy's side and sticking them in the guts with a ruddy great hunting knife. Forget the Manhunt 2 furore, this is the Wii's true execution sim: hammer A or B and Billy Elliot warps in for another stabbing.

It's as close as you'll get to a 'press to win' button, only here, winning means another goon brutally knifed to death. It's grimy, horrible stuff dressed up as popcorn fun, and we were left feeling just a touch sullied by it.

You could systematically tap the button for the two hours it takes to complete Jumper, but there are plenty of more worthwhile things to push your finger against. Rusty thumb tacks, for example.

Cruis'n

Popping in Cruis'n for a spin, you'd be forgiven for thinking you'd accidentally selected your VC download of Cruis'n USA from the Wii menu. That's 1998's Cruis'n USA for the N64.

Everything, from the boxy cars to the horrific harem of digitised start grid 'babes', looks like it was curled out many moons ago, given time to crust over and intensify in its stomach-turning awfulness.

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Cruis'n has always been naff, but unlike, say, Target Terror, it doesn't choose to revel in its inherent badness, but soldiers on po-faced, resulting in a game that is just very, very dull.

Courses have an aversion to corners, seemingly drawn against a ruler, and are entirely beatable by simply holding accelerate and closing your eyes - although this does mean you don't have to suffer the texturing mess that Midway equates with graphics.

The option to instantly change the music tracks is a nice touch - if you hammer the 'switch tune' button the brief load between each song will overlap and you won't have to hear any of them.

Actually, scratch that and mute the whole thing or suffer the pained roar of an engine more like a hoover being molested than any form of recognisable mechanical sound.

That we had the time to have a good ol' ponder about each of the individual aesthetic elements is a testament to the core gameplay's absolute inability to hold our attention. Cruis'n for a bruis'n, it deserves everything it gets.

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