2010 FIFA World Cup South Africa
Publisher: Electronic Arts (2010)
You might expect this PSP edition to play second fiddle to the console game, but I actually prefer
this portable version of 2010 World Cup South Africa. You may recall that the console version employed a distant "spectator view" that made the players look downright microscopic
. That's not the case here, as a closer, more optimal camera angle is used to good effect. Your main passing routes are easy to spot, so you'll rarely have to glance at the radar display at the bottom of the screen. The matches are briskly paced and quite realistic despite their abbreviated length. The controls could be better. You're forced to use the analog nub (no digital support) and it's easy to make an accidental extra pass. The steal button on defense is the shot button on offense, resulting in some unintentional long-range shots. Also annoying is how while defending penalty kicks your view is from behind
the net. You can barely see through that thing! The audio is high in quality thanks to a wonderfully diverse soundtrack and excellent commentators. They're English, so obviously they know what they're talking about. I love when they say stuff like, "C'mon referee, you must
see that!" When you see blown calls in a FIFA game, that's a sure sign of realism! You can vaguely hear the drone of vuvuzela horns in the background (I think), but they aren't obnoxious as they are during telecasts. My overall experience with FIFA 2010 was pretty average, but if you're in the mood for soccer, this will do just fine. © Copyright 2010 The Video Game Critic.
Ace Combat X: Skies of Deception
Publisher: Namco (2006)
Rating: Teen (alcohol reference, mild language, violence)
After Burner: Black Falcon
Publisher: Sega (2007)
Rating: Teen (mild language, mild suggestive themes, use of tobacco, violence)
Atari Classics Evolved
Publisher: Atari (2007)
Publisher: Take-Two Interactive (2007)
As a fast-paced baseball game with simple controls, The Bigs is an ideal sports title for a portable system. With its five-inning games, you can bang out a contest in about 20 minutes, in contrast to other baseball games that drag on until you fall asleep. The Bigs is a decidedly arcade experience, with acrobatic catches, flaming fastballs, scoreboard-smashing homers, and jarring collisions at home plate. Simple to play and addictive, The Bigs is for gamers who prefer to get right down to business without all the tedious delays and pauses associated with real baseball. I love how the runners move automatically, eliminating the baserunning confusion all too common in most baseball games. The only thing I really don't like is the predictable "power blast" power-up, which always results in a spectacular homerun. The game's brisk pacing is commendable, but you will have to watch the 2K logo spin for a second or two between batters. The teams, players, and stadiums are totally real and they look great. The graphics are scaled back a bit from the PS3 version, but on the small screen you'll barely even notice. The commentator does a fair job, but his play-by-play can become fragmented at times. The "rookie challenge" mode will keep solo gamers occupied, and you can play a friend via wi-fi. A lukewarm "homerun derby" mode is included, but sadly, innovative "baseball pinball" mode did not make it onto the PSP. Still, it's highly unlikely you'll find a more enjoyable baseball game for your PSP. © Copyright 2007 The Video Game Critic.
Capcom Classics Remixed
Publisher: Capcom (2006)
Rating: Teen (animated blood, violence)
Castlevania: The Dracula X Chronicles
Publisher: Konami (2007)
Rating: Teen (blood and gore, mild suggestive themes, violence)
Darkstalkers Chronicle: The Chaos Tower
Publisher: Capcom (2004)
Rating: Teen (blood, mild language, sexual themes, violence)
Considering Sony's historical resistance to 2D games, Darkstalkers Chronicle seems an odd choice for a PSP launch title. But even Sony would have to admit that this one-on-one, 2D fighter does a good job of showing off the sharp graphics and vibrant colors of the PSP display. A short video introduces all of the characters, and it's a lot of fun to watch! In addition to a vampire, werewolf, and Frankenstein monster, there are a number of unconventional characters including a girl dressed as a bee and a samurai with a face in his chest. The Darkstalkers brand of gameplay is a slugfest that borrows liberally from the Street Fighter 2 formula. The basic moves consist of three punches and three kicks, but there are plenty of special moves - mostly magical in nature. One of my longtime criticisms of the series is how certain characters (like the mummy) change their shape to inflict a lot of cheap hits. That's still the case, but you have to love the game's responsive controls, fast pacing, and ample eye candy. The backgrounds tend to be dark and imaginative, although subtle details tend to get lost on the small screen. When this title was first released for the PSP, critics complained about the controls, but I suspect that had more to do with the stiff thumbpad on the original PSP. Playing the game on the later models presents no problems at all. Another criticism I recall is the load times, but waiting 10 seconds between matches didn't seem so bad to me. Before you play however, you may want to consider bumping up the difficulty via the options screen. At the default level, I breezed through the entire arcade mode without losing one match! © Copyright 2009 The Video Game Critic.
Publisher: Sony (2006)
Rating: Everyone (animated blood, cartoon violence, crude humor, mild language)
Publisher: D3Publisher (2007)
Rating: Mature (blood and gore, intense violence, mature humor, strong language)
This budget title is a pretty run-of-the-mill by PSP standards, following in the footsteps of morbid platformers like Death Jr. and Medievil. You control a reanimated corpse on a quest for revenge, with the main gimmick being your ability to swap heads on the fly. You have several to choose from at a given time, each with their own powers. One lets you jump high, another lets you suck in liquids, another makes you stronger, etc. We've all seen this type of thing before. The game gets off to a questionable start with a lengthy introduction that concludes with the lead character dropping the F-bomb. The animation is nice, but the scenery features a lot of non-descript hallways and plain-looking rooms. Dead Head Fred incorporates hand-to-hand combat, puzzle solving, and platform jumping. It isn't terribly original, but the pacing is good and the effective musical score often mixes a playful piano with more ominous tones. You can save your progress at any time. The game seems playable enough at first, but you end up struggling with an unruly camera and some terribly unforgiving platform jumping. In one stage you need to jump across a series of sinking lily pads, and the degree of frustration is almost enough to award the game an instant F. A minor title like this does not merit that degree of aggravation. Even at a budget price, I'd have a hard time recommending Dead Head Fred to anybody. © Copyright 2008 The Video Game Critic.
Publisher: Konami (2005)
Rating: Teen (blood and gore, language, violence)
Death Jr. offends my video game sensibilities in so many ways I don't even know where to start. It stars a diminutive skull-headed kid battling his way through a series of uninspired stages to save his friends. Death Jr. tries to convey an off-kilter sense of humor, but the dialogue comes off flat, and Jr's freaky "friends" are more disturbing than comical. The action consists of the mindless shooting and hacking of regenerating creeps while trekking through angular, banal locales including a museum and a school (snore). I still
don't know what "Meat World" is supposed to be, but it sure is boring! Ghouls relentlessly pummel you with projectiles, and these monsters are so poorly rendered that you can't even tell what they're supposed to be! But the game's main offense is how poorly it plays. The targeting system wreaks havoc on the framerate, adjusting the camera is a constant struggle, and the clipping problems are unforgivable. I can't tell you the number of times I was able to see past (or move through) "broken" walls. The minor-key musical score isn't bad, and you can save anytime, but these bells and whistles can't make up for the atrocious gameplay. I would have given Death Jr. points for originality, but then I remembered there was a Medi-Evil game for the PSP, and that has
to be better than this. © Copyright 2006 The Video Game Critic.
Dungeon Siege: Throne of Agony
Publisher: 2K Games (2006)
Rating: Teen (blood and gore, violence)
Publisher: 2K Games (2006)
Rating: Mature (mature humor, partial nudity, violence)
The same game is available for both the Playstation 2 and Xbox, but oddly enough Family Guy shines brightest on the PSP. The cell-shaded graphics look exceptionally vibrant and clean, and the wide angle provides an optimal view of each stage without having to fiddle with clumsy camera controls. Throughout the game you'll play as three characters, including an obese father, brainy white dog, and infant genius. Peppered with clever dialogue, Family Guy exudes an offbeat brand of humor more sophisticated than the Simpsons or South Park. There are pop references galore, although some are rather obscure. Family Guy's gameplay is a virtual smorgasbord of styles. There's platform-jumping, target shooting, puzzle-solving, and even hand-to-hand combat. You'll beat the donuts out of cops (literally), and jump on the bellies of pregnant women in a hospital ward, launching babies (and other things) in the process. It's completely over-the-top, but I never found Family Guy to be crude or offensive. The short stages and auto-save are perfect for short gaming sessions, although the obligatory "stealth" stages certainly tried my patience. The controls are terrific, and I actually prefer them to the console versions. Though not a fan of the television series, I still found Family Guy to be an entertaining little romp. © Copyright 2006 The Video Game Critic.
Fat Princess: Fistful of Cake
Publisher: Sony (2012)
Rating: Teen (blood, cartoon violence)
I was feeling lukewarm about this one based on several reviews I had read, but when its price fell below ten bucks I couldn't resist. Fat Princess is a real-time strategy title pitting a red team against a blue one. The object is to rescue your princess and return her to the throne room in your castle. In the process you'll engage in melee combat, help secure bases, and manage resources. There are several classes of characters you can generate via "hat machines", including workers, warriors, mages, and priests. The game is played from an overhead view as your little character can freely scamper around an expansive landscape with mountains, bridges, islands, and water you can swim through. The one-player mode offers a series of missions that gradually introduce new elements, and I hated it. It seems like you always need to slowly haul something across the map while enemies relentlessly beat the living crap
out of you. Fat Princess was the first download-only title for the PSP, and it was clearly designed to facilitate multiplayer action for the system. But the game feels contrived, as if it was designed in a boardroom by a bunch of executives. It tries to use whimsical style and humor to hide its lack of original ideas. The one original element is the ability to feed cake to a princess, making her fat and more difficult for the other team to carry off. Good strategy games are more than the sum of their parts, but Fat Princess is far less. © Copyright 2013 The Video Game Critic.
FlatOut: Head On
Publisher: Empire (2008)
Rating: Teen (mild lyrics, violence)
Publisher: 2K Games (2007)
Rating: Teen (blood and gore, mild suggestive themes, violence)
God of War: Chains of Olympus
Publisher: Sony (2007)
Rating: Mature (blood and gore, intense violence, nudity, sexual content)
Publisher: Konami (2006)
Publisher: X-Seed (2009)
Rating: Everyone 10+ (animated blood, language, mild fantasy violence, mild suggestive themes)
Hot Shots Golf: Open Tee
Publisher: Sony (2005)
Rating: Everyone (comic mischief, suggestive themes)
Initially, I wrote off Hot Shots for the PSP as yet another PS2 rehash - a second-rate port with nothing new to offer. I guess I was wrong, because now it's my favorite PSP game! Simple put, this is a joy to play. I already own the four previous Hot Shots games, but there's something about viewing those deep blue skies and lush green hills on the PSP's wide screen. If there's one game that shows off that beautifully crisp screen, it's this. But Hot Shots is more than just a pretty face. Unlike previous versions, this one is specifically geared toward the single-player experience. It grabs your attention with its easy, fast gameplay, and then strings you along with enticing challenges and bundles of rewards in the form of new courses, characters, medals, ability boosts, promotions, and various whimsical accessories. A single round only takes a few minutes to play, making Open Tee ideal for gaming "on the go". The three-press swing meter beats the hell out of Tiger Wood's analog swing mechanism, and excellent camera angles make it easy to judge your shots. I only wish the overhead view was assigned to a different button besides the tiny "Start" button, since I use that a lot. The characters look pretty familiar, but the multi-tiered courses with multiple paths seem fresh and imaginative. Hot Shots gets the details right too, auto-saving your statistics, marking long shots, and featuring varying weather conditions. As an indicator of how much I enjoyed the game, it's the one PSP title I've played where the batteries keep dying on me! Previous Hot Shot games were always fun to play against friends, but thanks to this slick portable edition, you don't even need friends anymore! © Copyright 2006 The Video Game Critic.
Hot Shots Tennis: Get a Grip
Publisher: Sony (2010)
Rating: Everyone (comic mischief, mild suggestive themes)
Publisher: Majesco (2005)
Rating: Mature (blood and gore, strong language, intense violence)
Infected didn't make much noise in the media, but I found this to be a surprisingly enjoyable zombie shooter. Each stage is only a few minutes in length, with your goal being to clear out ghouls in a certain part of a city. Viewing the action from behind your character, you "wear down" oncoming undead with conventional firearms before finishing them off with your "viral" gun (insert joke here). Zombies at full strength are surrounded by a yellow glow, and weak ones glow red. It's especially satisfying to score "combos" by splattering several weak zombies at a time. Infected has a real arcade flavor, with brief stages and plenty of frenetic strafing action. You'll acquire better weapons and abilities as you advance, although the controls for switching weapons are needlessly confusing. But that didn't bother me as much as the lowbrow humor. As you receive audible status information between stages from police radios and news telecasts, the game too often resorts to juvenile humor and gratuitous profanity. It makes an otherwise enjoyable little shooter feel like a tawdry affair. Infected's graphics won't turn any heads (the characters look like cardboard cut-outs), but the urban scenery looks pretty good. Despite its flaws, Infected managed to get under my skin. It certainly excels in the instant gratification department, making it ideal for portable gaming. © Copyright 2006 The Video Game Critic.
Publisher: Sony (2006)
Rating: Teen (blood, language, violence)
Publisher: Sony (2006)
It's ironic how the PSP finally
gets a critically-acclaimed title that's both 2D and completely original, and what happens? It doesn't sell. But truth be told, LocoRoco isn't nearly as great as other critics might have you believe. I've noticed that many reviewers become so charmed by a game's originality that they can no longer objectively judge its gameplay. But not this critic. LocoRoco is attractive, quirky, and kid-friendly, but it's no Katamari Damacy
(PS2, 2004). Loco's gameplay involves tilting the screen to make the cute, round "LocoRoco" roll and jump through a world of bouncy flowerbeds, winding tunnels, and streams of wind. As you traverse each course you'll want to avoid the nasty black "Mojas" and gather berries that allow you to grow. Using the circle button, you can either merge your Locos into one slow, large blob, or divide them into a collection of smaller Locos (which are easier to lose). The colorful 2D graphics are inviting, and the worlds are uniquely soft and squishy. Tilting the screen involves holding in the shoulder buttons, and I couldn't help but think how much better this game would be had the PSP contained some sort of tilt-detecting mechanism. Jumping involves holding in and releasing both shoulder buttons at once. The gameplay seems compelling for a while, but despite its thoughtful stage designs, Loco Roco gradually becomes monotonous and I found myself struggling to maintain interest. The music is entirely in Japanese, much of it sung by a whiney chorus of kids. Not only are these tunes extremely corny, but they'll really
get on your nerves. I hate to rain on the parade, but this isn't the "must-have" title PSP fans have been waiting for. LocoRoco is just medio-co. © Copyright 2007 The Video Game Critic.
Publisher: Ubisoft (2005)
Okay, let me get this straight. This
is the title early PSP adopters were hanging their hats on? This
is puzzle game an EGM reviewer recently described as "revolutionary"? Give me a [expletive] break! Had the original PSP game selection not been so lackluster, this Tetris knock-off would have received little or no attention. Lumines features colored blocks falling from the top of the screen that can be arranged into square clusters of various sizes. A visible line constantly scans the screen to clear out the squares, allowing you to rack up points and combos. Lumines is easy to learn, but I didn't find its gameplay particularly addictive. The main "challenge" mode runs too long and wears out its welcome. Sure you can win "skins" - but who gives a [expletive]? The timed modes are seriously lame and the puzzle mode is absolutely unbearable. Thankfully, the "CPU Versus" mode saves the day by offering short, competitive contests. Played on a vertical split screen, you land combos to "squeeze" your opponent's area, and I like the concept. The Lumines faithful love to rave about the slick visuals and trendy soundtrack, but truth be told, they're so not hot. For each attractive "skin" there's a hideously ugly one, and the techno music is a mixed bag. Some of the songs feature high-pitched voice samples that are downright annoying. Lumines isn't bad but it's not great either. It's just one of the most overhyped PSP titles. © Copyright 2006 The Video Game Critic.