SFTW: Nitrome

Each week Iain Simons selects a game so you can while away a few hours at your computer. This week <

The brilliant Nitrome have released a new game, a neat twist on the sliding puzzle games that populated the playgrounds of old. In the Dog House is a logic puzzle which challenges you to create a safe path delivering your dog to it’s dinner. The less moves with which you do this, the higher the score.

Beginning simply the game rapidly builds into a complex and satisfying puzzle as other elements are added, including of course - cats. All of this is lovingly rendered in Nitrome’s trademark pixel-art style and results in an addictive experience.

If you enjoy this, you’d be well advised to try out some of the other titles on Nitrome’s site, as one of the leading purveyors of desktop distractions there are some real treasures to be found here here.

Play In the Dog House

SFTW Update:

Fans of previous SFTW title Hoshi Saga will be pleased to learn that a further sequel has just been released. Hoshi Saga 3 is playable here…

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.
Getty Images.
Show Hide image

Is anyone prepared to solve the NHS funding crisis?

As long as the political taboo on raising taxes endures, the service will be in financial peril. 

It has long been clear that the NHS is in financial ill-health. But today's figures, conveniently delayed until after the Conservative conference, are still stunningly bad. The service ran a deficit of £930m between April and June (greater than the £820m recorded for the whole of the 2014/15 financial year) and is on course for a shortfall of at least £2bn this year - its worst position for a generation. 

Though often described as having been shielded from austerity, owing to its ring-fenced budget, the NHS is enduring the toughest spending settlement in its history. Since 1950, health spending has grown at an average annual rate of 4 per cent, but over the last parliament it rose by just 0.5 per cent. An ageing population, rising treatment costs and the social care crisis all mean that the NHS has to run merely to stand still. The Tories have pledged to provide £10bn more for the service but this still leaves £20bn of efficiency savings required. 

Speculation is now turning to whether George Osborne will provide an emergency injection of funds in the Autumn Statement on 25 November. But the long-term question is whether anyone is prepared to offer a sustainable solution to the crisis. Health experts argue that only a rise in general taxation (income tax, VAT, national insurance), patient charges or a hypothecated "health tax" will secure the future of a universal, high-quality service. But the political taboo against increasing taxes on all but the richest means no politician has ventured into this territory. Shadow health secretary Heidi Alexander has today called for the government to "find money urgently to get through the coming winter months". But the bigger question is whether, under Jeremy Corbyn, Labour is prepared to go beyond sticking-plaster solutions. 

George Eaton is political editor of the New Statesman.