Something for the weekend: Hoshi Saga

Iain Simons recommends something to while away those office hours. But don't let the management see

"This game is to discover a star hidden in a stage"

Yoshio Ishii's sublime Hoshi Saga offers only those words by way of explanation, and then leaves you to explore. Challenged with this simple goal your task is to variously uncover or create stars by experimenting with the different elements of each level. Initially, this is a childishly simple and utterly arbitrary game of hide and seek but don’t be misled - the game rapidly evolves into something altogether more imaginative. By level three, it's apparent that you're playing with the results of a design experiment which has yielded some startlingly inventive work. 

Minimal, monochrome design and a sparse soundtrack allow you to focus entirely on what this game is really about, the playfulness by which the star is revealed. Whilst entirely mouse-driven, don't be led into thinking that pointing and clicking is necessarily always the answer. The stars you seek are formed by chipping away at blocks of pixels, pulling away corners of leaves of paper, photographing the cosmos... Each level is a sealed game within itself which usually uses an entirely different mechanic to the last. Endlessly inventive, the quiet mischief that bubbles throughout is a joy.

Hoshi Saga really is a bookmark-able treat that rewards your patience amply with its quiet charm. It knows you’re going to want to return to it, and automatically saves your progress to make this effortless. Should you make it through to the end, I'd like to direct you to trying the sequel - combined these will easily keep you going until this time next week. More from the brilliant Yoshio Ishii soon...

Play Hoshi Saga and Hoshi Saga 2

Iain Simons writes, talks and tweets about videogames and technology. His new book, Play Britannia, is to be published in 2009. He is the director of the GameCity festival at Nottingham Trent University.
Photo: Getty Images
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What do Labour's lost voters make of the Labour leadership candidates?

What does Newsnight's focus group make of the Labour leadership candidates?

Tonight on Newsnight, an IpsosMori focus group of former Labour voters talks about the four Labour leadership candidates. What did they make of the four candidates?

On Andy Burnham:

“He’s the old guard, with Yvette Cooper”

“It’s the same message they were trying to portray right up to the election”​

“I thought that he acknowledged the fact that they didn’t say sorry during the time of the election, and how can you expect people to vote for you when you’re not actually acknowledging that you were part of the problem”​

“Strongish leader, and at least he’s acknowledging and saying let’s move on from here as opposed to wishy washy”

“I was surprised how long he’d been in politics if he was talking about Tony Blair years – he doesn’t look old enough”

On Jeremy Corbyn:

"“He’s the older guy with the grey hair who’s got all the policies straight out of the sixties and is a bit of a hippy as well is what he comes across as” 

“I agree with most of what he said, I must admit, but I don’t think as a country we can afford his principles”

“He was just going to be the opposite of Conservatives, but there might be policies on the Conservative side that, y’know, might be good policies”

“I’ve heard in the paper he’s the favourite to win the Labour leadership. Well, if that was him, then I won’t be voting for Labour, put it that way”

“I think he’s a very good politician but he’s unelectable as a Prime Minister”

On Yvette Cooper

“She sounds quite positive doesn’t she – for families and their everyday issues”

“Bedroom tax, working tax credits, mainly mum things as well”

“We had Margaret Thatcher obviously years ago, and then I’ve always thought about it being a man, I wanted a man, thinking they were stronger…  she was very strong and decisive as well”

“She was very clear – more so than the other guy [Burnham]”

“I think she’s trying to play down her economics background to sort of distance herself from her husband… I think she’s dumbing herself down”

On Liz Kendall

“None of it came from the heart”

“She just sounds like someone’s told her to say something, it’s not coming from the heart, she needs passion”

“Rather than saying what she’s going to do, she’s attacking”

“She reminded me of a headteacher when she was standing there, and she was quite boring. She just didn’t seem to have any sort of personality, and you can’t imagine her being a leader of a party”

“With Liz Kendall and Andy Burnham there’s a lot of rhetoric but there doesn’t seem to be a lot of direction behind what they’re saying. There seems to be a lot of words but no action.”

And, finally, a piece of advice for all four candidates, should they win the leadership election:

“Get down on your hands and knees and start praying”

Stephen Bush is editor of the Staggers, the New Statesman’s political blog.