Posts Tagged ‘ PSP ’

Archer Maclean’s Mercury

Puzzle games have always been a great fit for handheld gaming, the high score mechanic and low system requirements leading to some of gaming’s finest moments. Whereas Lumines became a new interpretation of the classic Tetris formula, Mercury much like Super Monkey Ball can trace its roots back to marble madness.
The game tasks you with the challenge of moving a blob of mercury from one end of a stage to the other by tilting the stage itself, in a manner very similar to Super Monkey Ball. However the way in which the gelatinous blob of mercury moves couldn’t be more different, sloshing about as you would expect and dividing into smaller blobs upon striking certain objects. The simple idea leading to you attempting to get as much of the original mercury blob from start to finish as possible.

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Stages are split into four main types finishing with a final Boss stage which combines elements of all of the stages you have completed to get to that point. The four main stage types are Race, Percentage, Task and Combo with each type subtly changing the way you approach each challenge. Race stages require you to get to the end of the stage as fast as you can. With the emphasis on speed spilling some mercury does not mean game over but will affect your score. Percentage however is all about getting a certain percentage of mercury to the finish line, with a minimum amount required in order to complete the stage and time being irrelevant to how you score. Task stages are all about setting off switches in order to progress through a level, often requiring you to split into multiple blobs of mercury and even changing colour in order to do so. Finally combo levels as the name suggests combine elements of multiple disciplines similar to boss stages but to a lesser extent.

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As an extra challenge for the hardcore Ninja levels can be unlocked by beating the top scores of all tables from within a world. As you might expect these levels up the difficulty a notch or two and are welcome additions for players really trying to push themselves.
The pick up and play nature of the game along with the short burst nature of the levels make the game ideal for handheld gaming. Whilst the high score reward structure challenges players to play stages over and again to try and perfect a level, and it is here where the greatness of the level design truly shines. Using the natural momentum and friction of the mercury you begin to traverse routes which initially seemed impossible, taking shortcuts which shave seconds off your previous best attempt. After spotting a possible new route it’s difficult to ignore until you have perfected it.

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With everything sounding great so far there is one small caveat, being that this game is not perfect for everyone. If you are not the kind of perfectionist who is willing to play the same level for an hour in an attempt to get that perfect score and unlock the ninja levels you will definitely not be getting the most out of this game. However if like me that sounds like a perfect slice of gaming fun you really are in for a treat. I like to think of it as the thinking man’s Super Monkey Ball and the perfect company for any journey. Originally released on UMD in 2005 it is now out on PSN for £4.79, easily downloaded and installed to your PSP from your PS3, you’d be a fool not to take advantage.

Hi-Score: -Level design, that just one more go appeal

Lo-Score: – Occasionally irksome camera

Final Score: – 8 out of 10

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The King Of Fighters Collection: The Orochi Saga

The Orochi Saga contains five games from the King of Fighters back catalogue in one tidy package. The titles range from the King of Fighters ‘94 to the King of Fighters ‘98 and were all originally released between the mid to late 90’s. For those people that never had the chance to own the rather expensive Neo Geo a bit of background may be necessary. The King of fighters is a 2d fighting game similar to Street Fighter, containing a collection of characters from other classic SNK fighting games. The biggest difference being that it has a three on three tag fighting system essentially meaning that to excel you must learn the moves of three different characters rather than just one. This also means that the fights do not consist of the traditional rounds. As soon as a character is beaten the next character is tagged in and when all three characters on a team are beaten the fight ends.

This may seem like a rather simple addition but it does in fact add a whole new strategy to the way in which you play. You can also select the order in which your team fights meaning that thought needs to go into when you play your favourite fighter. The early games in the series allow you to choose from preset teams whereas the later games give you more freedom in creating your own team built from a more comprehensive selection of characters.

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Presentation is nice using a circular menu to allow easy access to any of the five games, bonus content and the challenge mode. As a collection it would be nice if it contained some history of the franchise and explanations of the evolution of the games. While fans will no doubt already understand the subtle changes to the games through each evolution newcomers will have to search elsewhere.

Anyone new to the series though will be glad of the inclusion of the training mode. Although not entirely comprehensive it does a good job of teaching the move sets. Whilst training simply select move list and a list of all of those characters moves will pop up on screen. From here u can see the inputs needed for each move, watch a demo of what the move should look like and also have the inputs put on screen for you to follow.

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Another new inclusion is the challenge mode consisting of challenges of various difficulty with the completion of each unlocking bonus content for the game. The content unlocked consists mainly of art work and music but is a good way of helping you learn about the fighting system and gives something else for lone players to play through besides the regular arcade mode.

The quality of emulation varies slightly between the PSP and Wii versions though. The Wii version runs all of the games perfectly whereas the PSP struggles with loading times and the occasional stutter during fights. With this being a compilation rather than a remake there have not been any tweaks to either the visuals or the music both remaining faithful to their original incarnations. This means that the PSP is a little kinder on the graphics due to its diminutive screen size shrinking all the pixels.

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Controls are fundamental to 2d fighting games and are another area that separate the two games. Each version uses the same setup but it’s the devices themselves that can change the feel of the game, I will add that this is a preference of the user rather than a fault of the game itself. The Wii version allows a multitude of control options including the Wiimote, Wiimote and nunchuck, Classic pad or Gamecube pad. I personally found that the classic pad preferable due to its layout and larger d-pad. It should also be noted that the classic pads analogue stick with its notches separating the diagonals is also very useful for the kind of quarter circle moves common in this kind of game. The problem I have with the psp controls is that I have never found either the dpad or analogue stick precise enough to consistently make the movements required of a fighting game.

With the series not evolving greatly between ‘94 and ‘98 though the question remains that it may have been better to create a collection containing a mixture of SNK’s 2d fighters. But for either fans or newcomers to the series this compilation does precisely as it set out to do by creating a competent collection of the early King of Fighters games.

PSP

Hi-Score:-challenge mode, training mode

Lo-Score:- loading times, control issues

Final Score:- 6 out of 10

Wii

Hi-Score:- Emulation, controls and new modes

Lo-Score:-lack of variation between the games

Final Score:- 7 out of 10

SNK Arcade Classics vol. 1

Like many others as a youngster there was no chance of me getting a Neo Geo no matter how much I nagged my parents.  In those days the idea of a perfect port of some classic arcade games to a portable console would have had you declared a witch and burnt at the stake.  But now it is 2009 and SNK have put together a collection of 16 Neo Geo arcade games onto a single UMD.

The collection includes:-

  •          Art of Fighting
  •           Baseball Stars 2
  •           Burning Fight
  •           Fatal Fury
  •           King of Monsters
  •           Last Resort
  •           Magician Lord
  •           Metal Slug
  •           Neo Turf Masters
  •           Samurai Showdown
  •           Sengoku
  •           Shock Troopers
  •           Super Sidekicks 3
  •           The King of Fighters ‘94
  •           Top Hunter
  •           World Heroes

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Now, with such a healthy collection of classic arcade titles the thought you are first struck with is: Where do I start?  After scrolling through the rather simple menu my first port of call was Metal Slug, being one of my favourite games and also a good test for the quality of emulation.  The news here is all good, thankfully, with the visuals looking particularly nice and sharp with no noticeable slowdown.  Sound also seems spot on although I must admit my memory of some of the lesser known games music may not be perfect.  There are some useful options like the ability to alter the screen layout for nicer looks or to fill the full wide screen.

Within the options is where you can also find another little gem, the goals for each game.  These are the equivalent of achievements or trophies, unlocking content within the collection instead of adding to a gamer score.  These goals range from completing a game on its easiest setting to some seriously challenging goals for the most hardcore of gamers.  One little quirk is that the goals do not always unlock content from the game you are playing.  This seemed like a slight annoyance as you may not wish to play all of the games in the collection, yet some important information such as move lists in King of Fighters can only be unlocked by completing the goals in Metal Slug.

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With such a collection there is always going to be some games you rate higher than others with my personal favourites being Metal Slug and the R-Type clone Last Resort.  The emulation for all games is spot on though with only minor issues appearing due to the format such as the d-pad not being ideal for some of the more complex moves in the fighting games and loading times being a little longer than ideal.

So what you’re left with is a very good collection of classic SNK arcade games in the palm of your hand.  Whilst simple menus and slightly long loading times are minor problems they are easily outweighed by both the quality of emulation and the games included.

 

HI Score- Emulation, quality of games included and value for money

Lo Score- Loading times, simple presentation

Final Score- 8 out of 10

Little Big Planet on the small screen!

SONY officially announced that Little Big Planet is coming to the PSP!

Also in the PSP lineup will be Assassins Creed and Rock Band Unplugged, a fitting title for the music game on the go, along with others.

Link here:  http://blog.us.playstation.com/2009/02/24/destination-playstation-news-littlebigplanet-motorstorm-rock-band-assassins-creed-more-coming-to-psp/

Now if I could only remember where I last left my PSP….

-CubicleZombie