Let's face it: there's a certain masochistic edge to the summer season: Heat waves. Mosquitos. Sunburn. Anything involving community theater. So what better way to relax than this week's Vault's collection of ultra-tough-but-fair works from the JayIsGames archives, sure to frustrate you into a happy afternoon? We've got action, arcade, and platforming works that may be punishing, but boy, they hurt so good!
- Soap Bubble - So many high-difficulty games fail to justify why exactly it is that touching an errant blade of grass will cause the player-character to explode into a ludicrous amount of giblets. Soap Bubble, a 2005 exploration game by Anders Gustafsson, though, makes it inherent in the premise, playing as you do an anthropomorphic soap bubble, clearly the most fragile of the fragile. A watershed release in the avoidance genre, Soap Bubble offers a suprisingly atmospheric collection of techno-organic environments to not-run-into. Here, slow and steady will win the race, but the clear focus is on a quite pleasantly stressful journey.
- Double Jeu - Clicking the Union Jack in the bottom left of the title screen of Double Jeu, a 2006 arcade game by Zanorg, translates the English title as Irritating Game, which, as far as I can tell, is actually the name of the series of which it is an installment. Frankly, I wish they'd kept the "Game Over" translation, since that's definitely a screen you'll be seeing a lot of. Approximately a simulation of playing ping-pong with one hard, while balancing a ball on a paddle with the other, commenter Kristofski probably puts it best by describing the Double Jeu experience as "like trying to pat your head and rub your stomach at the same time. With one hand." But, if you're anything like me, you're not going to be able to take the game's snarky score assessments lying down.
- Gil - What kind of spotlight on difficult games would be complete without featuring a platform game with a protagonist who may or may not wanna be the guy? Well, not this one, for sure! Truthfully though, that Gil, the titular star of Animals Play Games' retro deathfest, merely wants his light-bulbs back from evil robots, to keep his light house running. That makes it quite easy to want to stick with him through the quite challenging hopping and bopping he needs to do. Infectiously charming, especially once it grants you the chance to play around with the jetpack, though be warned: total victory will require pixel-perfect play on the part of the persevering player.
While we welcome any comments about this weekly feature here, we do ask that if you need any help with the individual games, please post your questions on that game's review page. Well, what are you waiting for? Get out there and rediscover some awesome!