Publisher: Rockstar (2007)
Rating: Mature (blood and gore, intense violence, strong language, strong sexual content, use of drugs)
This portable edition of Manhunt 2 is arguably better than the console versions. Graphics that look modest on the Playstation 2 look really good
on the PSP, and the high-contrast PSP screen makes the environments look extra dark and gritty. The controls are identical to the PS2 version, except you have to hold in L and R to target an enemy (instead of just holding the left trigger). Manhunt 2 isn't as involved or tedious as most stealth games, and unlike real life, it's fun to visit sleazy, red light districts of town. Playing a prisoner on the run, you'll turn the tables on your pursuers using axes, clubs, needles, grocery bags, and whatever else is lying around. The key to the game is sneaking up on victims and methodically executing them one by one. Much has been made of the game's brutal violence, but rapid-fire camera angles and seizure-inducing flashing effects ensure you'll never get a good look at your own handiwork. The gurgling and crunching audio effects are probably the grossest aspect of the game. I really like how this portable version automatically saves your progress when you reach a checkpoint, unlike console versions where you have to save from a menu. With its short missions, simple controls, and handy auto-save, Manhunt 2 is ideal for killing on the go. © Copyright 2007 The Video Game Critic.
Publisher: Sony (2005)
Mega Man Powered Up
Publisher: Capcom (2006)
Rating: Everyone (cartoon violence)
Publisher: Konami (2005)
Rating: Mature (blood, language, suggestive themes, violence)
Publisher: Atlus (2010)
Rating: Teen (blood, violence)
This game is actually Metal Slug 7 - the same one that appeared on the Nintendo DS. Of course, it looks a heck of lot sweeter on the sharp, wide PSP screen. There's no shortage of frantic 2D mayhem as you forge through beaches, caves, and waterfalls while knifing soldiers and blowing up tanks. The rapid-fire shooting and auto-fire feature is a match made in heaven. The explosions are incredible, so it's extra satisfying to reduce a tower to rubble or blast helicopters out of the sky. There are some imaginative weapons like "iron lizards" which race across the ground and the "Zantetsu Sword" that makes enemy fire disappear. You now have the ability to collect two weapons at a time and toggle between them via the shoulder buttons. Metal Slug's comical style is totally over-the-top, and in one stage tanks literally rain
from the sky. At first I was bummed out by the unlimited continues and the way your score doesn't reset. Then a helpful reader pointed out that the last digit of your score indicates the number of continues used, so at least you have that to go by. All Metal Slug games are fun, but this isn't the best in terms of stage design. Most of the scenery is subterranean, and the mine cart area gets on my nerves. Still, Metal Slug XX is pure arcade fun and frankly there are few games I'd rather play on my PSP. © Copyright 2013 The Video Game Critic.
Midnight Club: LA Remix
Publisher: Rockstar (2008)
Rating: Teen (mild suggestive themes, mild violence, strong lyrics)
I heaped praise upon Midnight Club for the 360 and PS3, but can this portable edition deliver the same brand of high-speed thrills? Not quite, but it comes admirably close. LA Remix lets you cruise freely around Los Angeles (and later Tokyo) while entering races and challenging other drivers on the road. The races take you all over town, but your path is usually
clearly designated by tall yellow plumes of smoke. This means less peeking at the map, and more weaving through traffic while keeping an eye out for shortcuts. The smooth graphics are about PS2 quality, allowing you to see a good distance with minimal draw-in. Some of the colorful sunsets are absolutely spectacular. Since the city itself has been scaled down, many races are run over laps instead of one long stretch. The scenery looks realistic but isn't sharp enough to distract you from the racing action. One big drawback to the smaller screen is that it's harder to see turns and on-coming cars, especially when you kick in your turbo. I experienced a few head-on collisions I did not see coming at all. In addition to turbo boosts, LA Remix also let you initiate "special abilities" like slow-motion (that's "bullet time" in shooters) or "agro" so you can plow through traffic without missing a beat. The game's audio is surprisingly good. Not only did I like the soundtrack, but it's interesting to hear the crystal clear voices of your competitors in the midst of a heated race. The constant saving and loading is aggravating, but otherwise you'll be hard-pressed to find a better racer for the PSP. © Copyright 2009 The Video Game Critic.
Mortal Kombat Unchained
Publisher: Midway (2006)
Rating: Mature (blood and gore, intense violence)
NCAA 07 Football
Publisher: Electronic Arts (2006)
This old PSP football title is a lot better than you might think. The graphics look terrific, and the small screen nicely hides any imperfections that may exist in the player models. NCAA Football makes excellent use of the screen real estate, packing each edge and corner with information pertinent to the game in progress. The two-man commentator team is lively and does a good job of staying on top of the action. The controls are set up like any Madden-style game, and while I expected using the right trigger (for sprint) would be problematic, it's not bad at all. Still, it was wise of EA to move the lateral control from the left trigger to the triangle (for option plays). The action on the field is hard-hitting, but the runningbacks are hard to take down, bouncing off tacklers like a pinball! The kicking game is the worst aspect of the game as the awkward camera angle makes it difficult to aim your kicks. I do like the "alternate defensive view" which provides a nice perspective when attempting to block
field goals. The CPU shows some imagination in its play-calling, sometimes even pulling out trick plays like the flea-flicker. The play selection mechanism is easy to use, but where are the blitz plays on defense? The on-field action is solid, but there's little in the way of college pageantry aside from the sound of the marching band. The game offers a nice selection of modes including a dynasty mode and a head-to-head wi-fi option. If you're into college football and want to play it on the go, NCAA 07 has everything you need. © Copyright 2011 The Video Game Critic.
Parodius Portable Collection (Japan)
Publisher: Konami (2008)
Publisher: Sony (2008)
Patapon has an intriguing premise, but the execution leaves much to be desired, especially for a portable title. Patapon marries rhythmic music action with real-time strategy as you command cartoon armies by pressing button sequences with precise timing. The concept is original and clever, brought to life with humorous yet artistic visuals. The action is purely 2D as you forge ahead on a side-scrolling screen where you engage other armies or large creatures. Your warriors look like little eyeballs with arms and legs, and they sing along to your "notes" in high-pitched voices. It's endearing when you're doing well, but irritating when things start to go south. Patapon has a pretty steep learning curve, and that's a shame. The interface is confusing and it's hard to figure out how to make progress. The little guidance you get tends to be cryptic, often in the form of riddles. It took me a while to discover that collecting items was key to building armies, and it's essential to replay old stages
in order to accumulate these. I must have failed level two a dozen times before realizing this! Even when you get the basics down however, Patapon isn't particularly enjoyable. The simple button sequences are not hard to memorize individually, but switching between them can be a bit taxing on the cranium. It's especially hard to maintain your rhythm during a battle while you're trying to determine your next move. Patapon has a lot going for it, but fun gameplay is not one of them. © Copyright 2008 The Video Game Critic.
Publisher: Sony (2006)
Rating: Teen (mild language, suggestive themes, violence)
I was really rooting for Pursuit Force, if only because it's exactly what the PSP needed - a fun, arcade-style title made exclusively for the system. Like many PSP gamers, I'm tired of second-rate ports! Pursuit Force may be a one-trick pony of sorts, but you can't deny its original gameplay and top-notch production values. With slick sports cars and soaring city skylines, the gorgeous graphics have that certain polish that really makes an impression. Likewise, the first-rate audio track features plenty of funny dialogue ("We're takin' you to the slaughterhouse, pig!"). Pursuit Force's gameplay is like every car chase you've ever seen in any action movie. As you weave through traffic in pursuit of the crooks, you can ram them, fire out your car window, or commandeer other vehicles. When in close proximity, you can leap onto the bad guys' car and pump lead right down their throats! The controls are surprisingly straightforward, and there's even on-screen prompts to help you out. In addition to cars, you can man other vehicles including speedboats and motorcycles, and sometimes even run around on foot. You'd expect the steering controls to be ideal for the PSP's analog nub, but in fact I felt much more comfortable with the digital pad. Pursuit Force is an action packed, but it wasn't the addictive joyride I was hoping for. The missions are hit and miss, and despite the game's admirable attempt to mix things up, the action feels repetitive after a while. The highways are wide open, but you're often asked to make awkward, tight turns onto narrow streets. Pursuit Force won't set the world on fire, but it does take a unique concept and get a lot of mileage out of it. © Copyright 2006 The Video Game Critic.
Publisher: Irem (2008)
The name "R-Type" is synonymous with intense side-scrolling shooting, but like Metal Gear Acid
(PSP, 2005), this fabled franchise arrives on the PSP as a turn-based strategy game
. Who in their right mind actually asked
for this?! As ill-advised as it may seem however, Irem almost pulls it off. The idea is to navigate a squadron of ships around a hexagonal space map while trying to take out the CPU's flagship (before it can eliminate yours). You'll outfit your squadron with a variety of fighters, but they all tend to look very similar. The well-designed interface makes it easy to move and attack, but the myriad of options can be overwhelming. There are some interesting strategic possibilities, like the ability to deploy decoy ships - and detonate them. Certain ships can resupply others, and "force units" can combine with other ships to augment their power. The graphics are sharp but extremely tiny, and I had to use my reading glasses to discern the text. The battles are peppered with action-packed cut-scenes, but waiting for them to load bog things down, so eventually you'll disable them. R-Type Command is not a bad game once you get a feel for it, but R-Type fans really should know what they're getting themselves into. © Copyright 2013 The Video Game Critic.
Publisher: Bandai Namco (2005)
Rating: Everyone (suggestive themes)
Rock Band Unplugged
Publisher: Harmonix (2009)
Rating: Teen (lyrics, suggestive themes)
When I think of playing Rock Band on the PSP, I envision someone trying to stick a square peg into a round hole. How in the heck
are you supposed to play one
musical instrument on the PSP, much less a four-piece band?
Well, Harmonix got creative and took a very innovative approach. The screen consists of four side-by-side "tracks" of moving notes, representing guitar, bass, drums, and vocals. You only play one at a time, and tapping the shoulder buttons let you switch between them. Upon successfully completing a section of notes your current instrument temporarily goes into an auto-play mode, giving you the opportunity to take over another instrument. It's a juggling act of sorts, but it feels satisfying as you gradually fill in the missing sounds. Each instrument works the same as you hit four buttons in rhythmic time with colored notes moving down the track. The four buttons are mapped to left, up, triangle, and circle, and if you look at a PSP you'll see that this is a very symmetrical and intuitive configuration. The game's biggest flaw has more to do with poor hardware design than the game itself. The shoulder buttons are really awkward to tap quickly, and it tends to throw off your playing. Even so, Unplugged is surprisingly fun, offering a musical experience that's both unique and gratifying. The track listing is exceptionally strong, serving up first-rate tunes like Buddy Holly (Weezer), Today (Smashing Pumpkins), White Wedding (Billy Idol), and Living on a Prayer (Bon Jovi). The music sounds crystal clear, so you'll want to crank up your headphones. It seemed like a long shot, but Rock Band Unplugged proves that a square peg can
fit into a round hole after all. Go figure. © Copyright 2011 The Video Game Critic.
SNK Arcade Classics 0 (Japan)
Publisher: SNK Playmore (2011)
Sid Meier's Pirates
Publisher: 2K Games (2007)
Publisher: Sega (2006)
Publisher: Sega (2007)
Space Invaders Extreme
Publisher: Taito (2008)
Star Soldier (Japan)
Publisher: Hudson (2008)
Star Wars Battlefront: Renegade Squadron
Publisher: LucasArts (2007)
Rating: Teen (violence)
Street Fighter Alpha 3 Max
Publisher: Capcom (2006)
Rating: Teen (violence)
Tekken: Dark Resurrection
Publisher: Namco (2006)
Rating: Teen (crude humor, mild language, suggestive themes, violence)
Twisted Metal Head-On
Publisher: Sony (2005)
Rating: Teen (violence, drug reference)
Most early PSP titles were uninspired ports of old Playstation games, and this Twisted Metal incarnation is a prime example. Head On looks like a rehash of the original games that appeared on the Playstation One, only with worse controls and half of the fun. The stages are definitely stale, offering familiar locations like a baseball stadium, the streets of Paris, and the freeways of LA (yawn). There's still all the frantic car combat action we've come to expect, but this time it's too
chaotic, and most of the vehicles handle poorly. There are far too many "portals" integrated into the oversized stages, making it easy to get lost. For all of its faults however, Head On does do a few things right. The machines guns are more effective than in previous games, and there are some enjoyable "crash-up-derby" bonus stages. But in general, Head On will probably not hold your interest for long, and series veterans will feel like they've "been there, done that." © Copyright 2006 The Video Game Critic.
Ultimate Ghosts 'N Goblins
Publisher: Capcom (2006)
Rating: Everyone (animated blood, fantasy violence)
Untold Legends: Brotherhood of the Blade
Publisher: Sony (2006)
Rating: Teen (fantasy violence)
Publisher: Sony (2007)
Publisher: Sony (2005)
To be completely honest, I wasn't too keen on buying another
version of Wipeout, considering I've played so many
on my Playstation, Saturn, and Nintendo 64. But Wipeout Pure is the real deal. This isn't just a scaled-down version of an old Playstation title, like the PSP editions of Ridge Racer and Twisted Metal. No, Pure truly elevates the Wipeout series with awe-inspiring visuals, first-rate audio, and finely-tuned gameplay. For those new to the series, Wipeout is a futuristic racer with vehicles that hover over gorgeous, winding courses. The tracks are wonderfully immersive, as you'll witness when you glide down the tropical track that plunges under the surface of the sea. Wipeout's weapons and power-ups are well balanced, and I especially love the "auto pilot" item that lets you effortlessly navigate the trickiest sections of the track. Though equipped with a shield, it is
possible for your vehicle to be destroyed. This adds tension, especially when you're running low on shields in the final lap. Pure's audio features a lively techno soundtrack and a pleasant female voice that alerts you to upcoming hazards. The button configuration takes some getting used to (you need to release the accelerator to fire a weapon), and I'd definitely recommend the directional pad over the overly-sensitive analog nub. Wipeout Pure is easily one of the more addictive games for the system, and a true showcase of the PSP's power. It's just a shame Sony set the bar so high with this excellent launch title, because few PSP titles can even hope to match it. © Copyright 2007 The Video Game Critic.