Review – What Did I Do to Deserve This, My Lord!?

One of the first games I played on my computer was the Dungeon Keeper series. I was an evil overlord who managed my dungeon with more gusto than a sixteen year old who had been newly promoted to fry manager at McDonald’s. I strove to be as evil as I could and I was good at it. Sometimes I think I missed my dictatorial calling in life. I loved being able to build traps and spawn new monsters to kill whatever hero was foolish enough to traipse into my lair.

Unfortunately, after Dungeon Keeper 2, Bullfrog stopped making the series and my dungeon-building prowess dulled – the lands were freed of my evil grasp. I have always wanted a game to fill the dungeon keeping hole in my heart but alas, the void remained…until recently. →  Read the rest

Review – Ys Seven

Ys Seven is a momentous release for developer Falcom. It is the first Ys game developed natively on the PSP, and it is also the first game in a major licensing deal struck with publisher XSeed Games. Westerners can finally play an original Ys game exactly as it was intended, rather than through a shoddy port.

Anyone excited for their first taste of this cult franchise will be sorely disappointed, however. If you’re looking for an introduction to Ys, you’re better off with Oath in Felghana, or the upcoming Ys 1 & 2 Chronicles. As for Seven, it isn’t an awful game, but even someone as hardly experienced with Ys as I am can tell that it isn’t the best showing the series has to offer.

Ys Seven still uses a realtime combat system, but lacks any need for strategy or precision outside of the boss battles. →  Read the rest

Review – Ys: The Oath in Felghana

Ys: The Oath in Felghana is a modern remake of Ys 3, one of the more radical entries in Falcom’s long running franchise.  While the first two games were top down adventures in the same vein as Zelda 1, Ys3 is a side scroller similar to Zelda 2.  The promotional website for Oath in Felghana goes into detail as to what the remake entails, stressing that it expands upon the original without heavy alterations or retconning.  I can’t say for certain if it succeeds in this regard, but I can take a guess, because Oath is an excellent game on its own.  It has an old school charm without feeling arcahic, yet it is a careful update that avoids adding the cruft and excesses of modern games.

Oath in Felghana once again stars series heroes Adol and Dogi, who have continued adventuring together after the events of Ys 1 and 2.  →  Read the rest

Review – Half Minute Hero

Half Minute Hero is a wonderful little game, but it is also one which, in my experience, was  poorly described upon release. It features several modes of play, but one of them, labeled “Hero 30”, compromises at least fifty percent of game time.  As a result, this one mode received the majority of attention from the media, and this skewed perspective is what caused me to lose interest in the title.  I couldn’t believe that its core concept could sustain itself for any length of time, and when it comes to Hero 30, I was correct in that belief.  Yet while the other modes are significantly shorter, they’re also a lot of fun, and their existence makes the whole package worthwhile.

Half Minute Hero is a sendup of old school 8 and 16 bit RPGs.   →  Read the rest

Review – Gitaroo Man Lives!

Gitaroo Man is PS2 rhythm game originally released way back in 2002 At the time, lack of availability prevented it from gaining anything but niche popularity, but a 2005 reprint by online retailer Games Quest Direct brought it back into the gamer’s eye right around the same time that Guitar Hero was poised change the genre forever.

The increased availability (you could find the reprints at almost any Gamestop) and the game’s quirky Japanese style helped make it into a cult hit that is still revered by those who found Guitar Hero and its ilk to be a little too influential. Even better, the game was released yet again in 2006 as Gitaroo Man Lives! on PSP. Having myself been burnt out on rhythm games for the last year, I decided to see whether this really would be a refreshing change of pace. →  Read the rest

Review – Persona

Nothing but Playstation remakes. The PSP seems to be relegated to the unusual role of a “Remake system”. Nearly all the RPGs (which are, of course, the only real games out there) on the system are remakes, or generally reputed to be bad. And Persona is falls neatly in the first category, as you might expect.

But as I’ve written before – the Persona we received back when it was among the first in its genre for the Playstation wasn’t quite the same game they saw in Japan. Set in the sleepy US town of Lunarvale (which still managed to house a several-storied corporate office), the American students (who all wear school uniforms and are taught in a traditional Japanese concrete-block school) face an invasion of demons from an unknown source. →  Read the rest

Review – Steambot Chronicles: Battle Tournament

The Steambot Chronicles series can’t catch a break. The PS2 original, while rough around the edges, garnered a solid cult following. Eventually, developer Irem teased its fans with footage of a PS3 sequel, and then…nothing. It still looks to be in development, but it is anyone’s guess as to when, or if, we will actually get it. In the meantime, Majesco brought over a Steambot themed puzzle game, only to give it box art that would scare anyone away.

Now comes the Atlus localization of Steambot Chronicles: Battle Tournament, a side story sequel on the PSP. Battle Tournament was largely ignored in Atlus’ email newsletter, one of the best sources of hype and information on their products, and the information that was given was fairly basic. Even worse, the name itself has caused confusion among potential buyers. →  Read the rest

Review – Patapon

I bought Patapon at launch, played for a week straight, and got to the third boss, a giant sandworm. After countless failed attempts, I put the game away for over a year, until Patapon 2 was released in 2009. Naturally, I could have just skipped to the sequel, especially considering the attractiveness of its new difficulty settings, until I learned that you can import some materials from the original. I finally learned just how to “play” Patapon, and suffice to say that the game is not only original, but highly deceptive.

If you are to succeed at this game, and by succeed I mean “win at all costs” rather than “handily”, you will need the following:

– A sense of rhythm that doesn’t falter under pressure. This is necessary not only to execute any commands, but also to keep your troops in Fever mode, in which their effectiveness increases dramatically. →  Read the rest

Review – LocoRoco 2

The original LocoRoco was a PSP game I wanted to get behind. The artwork not only looked good, but animated gorgeously and demonstrated what the PSP’s horsepower could for 2d gaming if the industry had not insisted on flooding the handheld with watered down PS2 downports. The simple, two button platforming concept was also a nostalgic throwback to platformers of old. Its sugary sweet cuteness was also an odd but welcome sight in today’s gaming climate, and the adorable cast alone was enticing to anyone without a heart of stone.

Ultimately, the game simply did not know where to go with any of its ideas. The level progression had no logic or reason behind it and felt tiresome before you got through all 40-something stages. If you just want to beat them, the challenge is a bit too easy, while aiming to replay them in order to collect special items or beat the speedrun times proved shockingly hard. →  Read the rest

Review – Silent Hill Origins

Over the years Silent Hill has gone from being a cult classic that all the cool kids preferred, to a media darling that the cool kids still preferred, to a struggling franchise that no one seems happy with. This is because no one can agree on what Silent Hill is all about. The basic idea has been that it offers a deeper, “psychological” style of horror that the proles playing Resident Evil may not understand.

As the series has gotten older, the people making it seem to believe the games are defined by increasing amounts of gooey penis and vagina monsters. Diehard fans often pin the spirit of the series to the original Team Silent. If you ask me, the meaning of Silent Hill is apparent. The problem is that no one really wants to use it. →  Read the rest

Review – God of War: Chains of Olympus

Reviewing God of War: Chains of Olympus can be done in either a paragraph or several pages. Actually, describing the game can be done in one hearty breath, though its existence makes for a longer and frustrating commentary on the industry.

Let us get the first part out of the way; Chains of Olympus is developer Ready at Dawn’s attempt to bring the full God of War experience to the PSP. In this goal they have succeeded; the game looks and plays so closely to the PS2 originals that Chains (almost) sits right up there with them in terms of quality. It really is amazing to think that this game is being played on a handheld. Unfortunately, in trying so hard to emulate the PS2, the experience also becomes excessively generic. →  Read the rest

Review – Dungeons and Dragons Tactics

Finally, a Good Original Game for the PSP

The PSP has always befuddled me. Here you have a visually excellent system with pretty decent processing power and storage capabilities, yet one of the biggest electronics companies in the world can only manage to wrangle a handful of good titles for the system. No kidding, I can count the number of PSP games that I enjoy playing for extended periods on one hand. Now I need to add one more finger because Dungeons and Dragons Tactics is a pretty sweet game.

Beware the forbidden forest of split pea soup!

This review is going to be pretty simple: if you like Dungeons and Dragons and you like turn-based tactical strategy games, you will like D&D Tactics. I, for one, am not a fan of D&D but that is due mostly to the people who have played and run the games I have tried to enjoy. →  Read the rest

Review – Brooktown High

There are two things that shame me as a man:

First, I have a collection of Hello Kitty cell phone trinkets that would make a twelve year old Japanese schoolgirl beam with pride. There is a good reason I have amassed this wealth of dangly goodness but this is neither the time nor the place to defend my less- than-masculine obsession. Second, is Konami’s new PSP title, Brooktown High and the frequency with which I play it.

You are a new student at Brooktown High School. It is your senior year, you are single, and you must score with as many hotties as is humanly (or in this case, digitally) possible. This is as close to being a player as you are going to get without contracting the cold sores and awkward itching that comes with the title, Medium Pimpmaster Supreme, which is what I was known as in high school. →  Read the rest

Review — WTF aka Work Time Fun

I am a masochist, I have to be. There is no other explanation for why I go back to a game that urges me to put as many caps on as many pens as fast as I can. There is no reason to keep chopping wood so fast that when a helpless little bunny gets thrown on the cutting block I can’t stop my swing in time and that little bunny become a bloody mass of flesh and fur. Such is the “game” that is Work Time Fun.

In Work Time Fun, you play a temp in a job agency in Hell. Various demons staff the job search desk, all of them offering the least helpful advice possible. There are tons of boring, grueling jobs to choose from (over forty I think) and they range from being a bouncer at a concert to the examples I described in the introduction. →  Read the rest

Review – Grand Theft Auto: Liberty City Stories

For this review, I’m afraid I am going to resort to the greatest cop out in games journalism; you are either going to like Liberty City Stories, or you’re not. To some, it is a downgrade from the huge, deep world that was created for San Andreas, a graphically lesser romp through a city we’ve all seen before. Rockstar is just trying to milk their fanbase of even more money, and should be ashamed of themselves. To myself and others, LCS is a technical marvel, (being developed for the PSP), a full fledged GTA experience that combines GTA3’s world with Vice City’s upgrades, all for the cost of a budget game. In this light, Rockstar has given us a nice little gift.

And that’s really it from a review standpoint. Anyone familiar with the series will find no surprises here, save perhaps for seeing Tony Cipriani as a thin gunman rather than a fat restaurant owner. →  Read the rest

Review – Neopets Petpet Adventure: The Wand of Wishing

It’s like Animal Crossing, only for even younger players.

Cute, cuddly, and lovable are just a few words I would use to describe the ever-popular amongst kids Neopets, but the PSP game, Petpet Adventure: The Wand of Wishing, is anything but. Don’t let the title fool you into thinking that this is simply for spoiled eight year-old little girls lucky enough to own PSPs.

It has a cute story line, but it’s in no way original – Neopia, the land of Neopets, is in grave danger when the Wand of Wishing disappears into a hidden portal. Now the Neopets are racing against time to retrieve the Wand of Wishing before the powerful villains do so that they can undo the evils the villains have visited upon the world.

The graphics are nothing to write home about, and the game takes unnecessarily long to load between different scenes and if there is one thing I hate, waiting would be it, so that aspect is a thumb’s down for me. →  Read the rest

Review – Wipeout Pure

Wipeout Pure
Developed by SCEE
Published by SCEE
Released 3.16.05

Wipeout Pure is one of my first PSP games. I must say, not being totally into racing games (I’m more of a RPG person), I found this game to be pretty exciting and entertaining for my daily commute to work. From the get-go, you have a choice of ten or so “spacecrafts” to choose from. I put spacecrafts in quotation because they look more like pen caps and paper clips then anything that resembles what people typically think a futurist spaceship will look like.

It’s like someone updated F Zero and didn’t call it F Zero GX.

The graphics for this game are excellent, but I use that term loosely because, honestly, I have no idea what is considered “good” graphics or “bad” graphics. →  Read the rest

Review – Megaman Powered Up

Megaman Powered Up
Developed by Capcom
Published by Capcom
Released 3.14.06

Here, Megaman faces off against Cutman, who would later go on to challenge a variety of social norms by becoming the first gay hairdresser robot.

I often wonder whether games have gotten easier over time, or if I’ve just gotten better. This weekend I picked up Megaman: Powered Up, Capcom’s PSP remake of the original Megaman, and I can now definitively answer this question: old-school games were, and still are, hard as fuck. Still, a potent combination of 1337 gaming skills, perseverance, and far too much free time on my hands allowed me to conquer (at least a significant portion of) the game and bring you this delectable review!

For those who didn’t catch the Blue Bomber’s debut back on the NES, the game takes place sometime in the year 20XX, which I guess is a really long time from now because we still just use numbers for our years. →  Read the rest

Review – Untold Legends: Brotherhood of the Blade

Untold Legends: Brotherhood of the Blade
Developed by Sony Online Entertainment
Published by Sony Online Entertainment
Released 3.24.05

I grade games on a 100 point scale broken down into several categories. Each category gives a maximum of 20 points. The combined total is score of the game.

Kingdom pic 1
Take these six points of damage! And you take these seven!!!.

A 100 = perfect.

Graphics: 15

Music: 15

Game play: 13

Plot: 15

Replay ability: 10

Total Value: 63%

The first thing I thought upon getting this title was “whoa my first PSP game!” Approximately 2 hours after playing the game my impression was “What the hell is this game trying to be? Handheld Diablo 2?” And I still think it is.

Don’t get me wrong. I love Diablo 2. My Amazon was something to be feared; even Jay’s nancy Barbarian trembled in fear from her when we were hunting Diablo in the depths of hell. →  Read the rest