August 28th, 2007
At the moment the most popular trend in the Video Game Industry has to be non gamer games. These titles have won the hearts of non gamers and continue to sell through the roof. Numerous game developers have taken notice and created new studios that deal for this new market.
Which leads us to the PSP. Sony have finally decided to focus some of their attention on this market for the PSP. And so to they should with the phenominal success of Buzz!, Eye Toy and Singstar on the PS2. Sony’s new Go! range is targetted towards this market. It isn’t the only time that Sony have tried this trick, do you remember this guy?
I thought that I’d take the time out to talk about some already released titles which Sony could cleverly use to market towards this crowd. Nintendo uses this technique to push 12 month old titles into the Weekly Top 10 Sales Charts(ie. Animal Crossing) and it clearly works. So Sony should do the same but with these titles:
Lumines was the first true killer PSP app and remains one of the system’s best games to date. This puzzle game works similar to Tetris but with decked out music. Groups of different coloured blocks fall from the top of the screen, you need to match the colours of the individual blocks in order to clear the blocks and keep the game alive. There is a horizontal line that moves across the screen, when this line hits the paired blocks then it clears them from the screen, giving you some more breathing space.
Like all good puzzle games it’s straight forward but challenging. What did set Lumines apart from other puzzle games is that video clips and music play in the background while you’re trying to match the boxes. I say did because this trend caught on pretty quickly with other puzzle games. Hurrah for techno music fans or people that take too many drugs.
EEE was developed by the makers of Lumines, so you know a what to expect; synthesized music with trippy visuals. This game is somewhat like a kamikaze version of space invaders; that is you drive your ship into oncoming enemies to rack up large combos. It’s great because of its unconvential approach which changes the original SI game so dramatically.
Gunpey is named after Gunpei Yokoi, the legendary creator of the Gameboy and also the Wonderswam. The latter console which this game debuted on. The concept of this game is simple, so simple that my feeble mind cannot think of a better way to describe it, so on with the external quote:
Gunpey’s premise is simple: Lines pointing in various directions pop onto the gameplay grid from the bottom, and you must connect them from left to right. Once you’ve linked one side to the other, the chain is locked, and you have a few seconds to add more lines before it is removed. You use the D pad to move a two-block cursor onto the lines and a face button to move the line from one block to the other. If a line is in the top row when the next row is due to appear at the bottom, the game is over. It sounds easy, but the underlying complexity soon becomes apparent.
Hope that makes things clearer for you.
Crush is a relatively new game for the PSP but is one of it’s most recent successes. Crush plays out like your standard 3D platformer. Your character Danny needs to collect his lost marbles in order to open the exit door and move to the next stage. Pretty simple right? Wrong! Press the left shoulder button and you can flatten the environment, putting the game into a 2D perspective. Danny can then use this to see other platforms that he hadn’t seen before and hence progress to the next level. Nice. This game actually has a neat storyline as well as the clever gameplay.
This game is a 3D platform-esque puzzler which calculates brain statistics from how well you achieve each level of the game. To progress in the game you need to navigate your silhouette(yes, silhouette) thru a 3D environment and use him to get past obstacles in the course. The game starts off with rather simplistic “crate” puzzles and then gets progressively harder with various distractions along the way. The games levels are designed to test the thought process and hence you are graded on not only how quickly you finish but also how accurately you complete each puzzle. These variables are then used to calculate your IQ.
LocoRoco is a genius game that actually puts the PSP’s layout to good use in a clever way. You use the left and right shoulder buttons to rotate the environment which in turn roll your little blobs around. You have to maneouver them thru the maze like levels filled with vibrant colour and simplisic digital art. You also have the ability to jump and split your blob up into tiny blobs to squeeze thru tight gaps. This title like Lumines is an exciting new franchise that was birthed on the PSP that is now branching out all over the place. There is a title coming out for the Playstation Network that is 90% complete.
If you are familiar with the Katamari series then you probably know what to expect out of this title. That is a portable rendition of the famous rolly polly game. For those out of the loop in the Katamari games your goal is to roll a little ball around a densly populated environment to create a massive snowball consisting of whatever you can find. Me and My Katamari makes a pretty solid transition to the PSP and if you are restricted to just a PSP, then its definetly worth a suss.
Mercury Meltdown is the sequel of the rushed PSP launch game; Mercury. Thankfully this time around Ignition(developer) has had the time to expand this concept and this game shows this quite well The basis of this game is to move your blob of mercury through the stage in order to reach an exit point. You can change the state of the mercury heating, cooling or solidifying it. This alters how the merucry is affected in the environment. These forms allow you to tackle the various obstacles in the stages.
Think of Traxxpad as a music making application for the PSP so kinda like Audacity. As simple as that sounds the game proves to be anthing but with it’s strong wealth of mixing options. Despite a simplistic nonchanging interface Traxxpad is a great application for newbies who want to make music without too much computer complexity. This game is a perfect of what Sony want out of the PSP, more uses.
Metal Gear Solid: Digital Graphic Novel is an interactive graphical novel based on the original Metal Gear Solid game. The artwork is all done by Melbourne artist Ashley Wood. Of course this game would be particularly bland if it was just a portable book. Thankfully this mission is livened up by sound effect and image transitions. Although it doesn’t sound too exciting, it brings this manga to life. The gorgeous art and brilliant story in this game make it hard not to recomend to anyone whom enjoyed games like Another Code or Hotel Dusk. Even if you can’t stand games like this the story of the Shadow Moses incident is so damn genius you won’t be able to refuse.
NB(Ignore if you don’t like boring rants): I’ve found that the subtle transitions in this game work very effectively as it removes a process that our brain normally does in these situation. When I read manga I link the images in transition, I picture the handdrawn animation in the minds eye. These subtle additions alleviate this, most interesting.
It’s Lemmings for the PSP, like most of the other iterations there’s not a lot that’s new beyond a slight graphical make over. But then again why ruin something that worked pretty well in the first place? The aim of the game is to move your Lemmings from one side of a level to the exit point by using various tools which can manipulate the environment. If you’ve never played a Lemmings game before then this is a quality iteration and worth a look.
Go! Sudoku is probably what you would expect out of a Sudoku game. It saves on the pen and paper instead using the PSP’s buttons, there is a great database of puzzles as well as additional content that can be downloaded thru the PSP browser. The game takes advantage of some of the features of the PSP like the aforementioned downloadable content, wireless multiplayer, demo sending and highscore comparison.
If you deperately need a digital Sudoku fix then Go! Sudoku is your best bet on the PSP.
I frustrates me to say it but I highly doubt that Sony will actually go out of their way to push these older titles onto a new market. Instead it seems likely that they will attempt to sell the idea of a slimmer PSP and some new useful peripherals like the camera, GPS and TV.
What do you think that they’ll do? Are there any games that I have missed? Drop me a comment and let me know.