The first Borderlands game was released on PS3, Xbox 360, and PC in 2009 and its cel-shaded visuals and heady mix of RPG and shooter elements resulted in a positive critical reception. A sequel, unsurprisingly titled Borderlands 2, is due to be released on Sept. 18 and the developer, Gearbox Software, is putting the publicity drive in gear. The latest push to gain attention is the release of a 16-bit version of Borderlands playable in a (Flash enabled) web browser. Titled The Border Lands, (like Facebook, it dropped the "the"), it offers some simple "old-skool" fun for gamers while they wait for the main event.

Gearbox has written a revisionist history of the Borderlands series to support this game, stating that it "wasn't always the slick, handsome bastard of a game it is today!" Therefore you're invited to "play the 1989 16-bit original to see how it all began." There wasn't a 1989 16-bit original, obviously, but if there had been then it probably would have looked something like this.

The Border Lands is a simple game which sees you choose one of four characters and head out into the titular border lands armed with a single weapon. You're immediately set upon by the residents, which are essentially 16-bit representations of the residents you meet in the full game. In fact everything is very reminiscent of the full game, even down to the bus tearing its way across the desert in the opening movie/start screen.

You fight off the hordes of bad guys and are rewarded with crates containing new weapons. Unfortunately these crates don't remain available to access for long, and it can be tough choosing which of the two weapons to take while being attacked by numerous foes. If you make it through a level you're rewarded with cash and progress on to the next level. Rinse and repeat.

Once your character runs out of lives, which in my case didn't take very long, you're given the chance to add your initials next to your score for the whole world to see. You know, like we used to back in the (good) old days. The high scores that have already been achieved are phenomenal, so don't expect to see your name anywhere near the top without putting in some serious time and effort. Still, you still have weeks left to practice at The Border Lands until Borderlands 2 drops.

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