The Top 11 Games For The PSP
When one chooses not to be tethered to the television for their at-home video game enjoyment, one must look to hand-helds. Though they’ve been on the market for quite some time, only two right now inundate the store shelves. Though both the Nintendo DS and the Sony PSP offer an array of differing features that make each specifically enjoyable for whomever picks his favorite, when it comes to an all-round ‘Entertainment Machine’ that can just as easily play MP3’s and movie files as it can its own game UMDs, it’s hard to go wrong with the Play Station Portable. Yes, its game library isn’t quite as extensive despite the fact that it has been available far longer (comparably to the DS, not the Game Boy system as a whole), the PSP tends to win for me for its ability to act like an iPod of sorts. Indeed it does have a lot of really excellent games with only a few missteps. Here are the 11 finest in the PSP UMDs out there.
11. Loco Roco
In LocoRoco, the player must tilt the ‘environment’ by using only the shoulder buttons on the PSP in order to maneuver the LocoRoco (multi-colored jelly-like characters) through each level, being aided by other odd critters while avoiding pitfalls and trouble spots and the deadly Moja Troop, to reach end goals. Along the way, the LocoRoco can grow larger by eating special berries, and then can be split and then rejoined to pass the LocoRoco through narrow spaces. The game’s bright and colorful visuals and dynamic music soundtrack were hallmarks of the game, earning it several awards from the gaming press in 2006. Anyone with a PSP really ought to own this title just for it’s addicting music alone!
The Castlevania series has been one of video game history’s most prolific titles. Having begun it’s life as Akumajō Dracula X Chi no Rondo, C: DXC does little to change it’s game play from nearly ever other Castlevania title made. Well, aside from that tragedy built specifically for the N64 which was so horrifically bad that it could have tanked the series. Since Sony’s resurgence of the title for the Play Station consoles, the games have been strong and excellently created. This particular portable story is a fantastic piece incorporating many of the themes from previous installments including the ability to unlock Symphony of the Night. A must, however difficult, for the PSP.
Monster Hunter Freedom 2 is a PSP exclusive and sequel to Monster Hunter Freedom, largely based on its PlayStation 2 predecessor Monster Hunter 2, which was never released outside of Japan. Monster Hunter Freedom 2 is not a direct port of Monster Hunter 2 but instead a portable update of the Monster Hunter series. New features have been added while others were removed to make the game appropriate for its portable platform. The system is based on hunting specific monsters and gaining items in order to build your rank. The game is tough and continues to get so as it progresses. A newer update, Monster Hunter Freedom Unite is the latest game in the Monster Hunter franchise. It is an expansion to MHF:2 and was announced that the game would be released in North America on June 24, 2009.
Just as the story revamps the classic Joan Of Arc history, the gameplay also mixes the standard turn-based strategy game play with a bit more urgency. As in most SRPGs, you place members of your party onto the game grid then take turns moving them, attacking enemies, and using items or spells. And, just as it often is, such factors as the way a character is facing or the fall of the terrain determine where you move your party members and how you attack the enemy. But if those things are what make Jeanne D’Arc traditional, it’s how developer Level 5 layers in just the right amount of difficulty and playability with features that make battles fluid, as well as truly dynamic. Fun game, nice graphics and theatrical vignettes make for a great game.
Though Final Fantasy has become a mainstay in both console and online play, the one of two available “new” titles (including Tactics: War of the Lions) we have here is a bit of a departure from the regular story. The game mainly focuses around Zack Fair, a 2nd Class SOLDIER, and the events leading up to his predetermined death. He meets many of the Final Fantasy VII characters, including Cloud Strife and Aerith Gainsborough, with whom he develops strong bonds. The game’s storyline takes the player from the war with the Wutai to the events at Nibelheim, and right up to the time just before the Final Fantasy VII beginning. Some of the missing events or plot holes from Nibelheim and afterwards are explained in the animated feature, Last Order: Final Fantasy VII. Much in the same vein, and another of the few yet great RPG titles for the PSP is the Star Ocean timeline. Star Ocean: First Departure is an enhanced remake of the original Star Ocean. First Departure uses a slightly altered version of the engine used for Star Ocean: The Second Story with similar features, including prerendered backgrounds and 3D battle fields. Production I.G provided new artwork and animated cutscenes for the game. New playable characters have been added as well. The Second Story seeks to only improve on the already classic game. A wonderful PSP title for everyone. Well, over teen, I guess.
Unlike the previous titles on PSP, Metal Gear Acid and its sequel, which were turn-based tactical games with stealth elements and not nearly as dynamic, MPO retains the action-based gameplay from the console versions, drawing heavily from Snake Eater and utilizing the camera system from Subsistence. The main addition to MPO is the Comrade System. Instead of the solo missions that the series is known for, MPO goes for a squad-based approach, with Snake having to recruit allies and form a team of trained specialists. Quite amazing how such an under-appreciated NES game can become something so much fun to play.
When one thinks of what game series truly made the PS2, it’s obvious that that thought strays to Grand Theft Auto 3. The game was brutal, nasty, gory, and a ton of hilarious fun. When the title inevitably moved to the PSP, two “sequels” came out: Liberty City and Vice City Stories, both of which played primarily the same with varying tasks and environments. GTA: LCS is often considered the better of the two. The game is set in Liberty City (the same city featured in Grand Theft Auto III). However, it takes place in 1998, three years before the events of GTA III. Toni Cipriani has freshly returned to the city after lying low for several years, having killed a made man as a favor for Don Salvatore Leone. The grateful Salvatore puts him straight back to work. During the course of Grand Theft Auto: Liberty City Stories, players can accept a variety of missions from many people, including Salvatore, Salvatore’s wife Maria, JD O’Toole, wise guy Vincenzo “Vinnie” Cilli, and even Toni’s own mother. Players may also accept missions from the “Avenging Angels”, similar to the Guardian Angels, earning special vehicles and wardrobe rewards. Oh, and for a really fun game of indestructible mayhem, find the life and ammo codes and just shoot the hell out of everyone and everything. Great game.
Up until now, PlayStation Portable-owning hockey fans (like myself) have only had the Gretzky series to play with. Not necessarily a bad thing: they played hockey, just not great. But hey, it was still hockey. NHL ’07 changed all that by delivering a solid handheld version of its console hockey series for the first time. All the gameplay modes and features you’ve come to expect from the NHL series over the years are on hand here, and the on-ice action is quite enjoyable. This is good hockey game that handles the portable translation well. Not only that, but it has become a rarity in local re-sell shops since it’s snatched up as soon as it’s found.
Being a comic fan immediately opens up the impossible ideas of one day becoming one of your favorite heroes or villains. But impossibility is no longer something one has to worry about in Marvel Ultimate Alliance. Taking control of four (one main) characters from a slew of available comic superheroes is what truly makes this game a must have even for folks only interested in crisp game play and long, dynamic stories. Giving the player ability to choose from such mainstays as Wolverine, Spider-Man, Captain America, and Deadpool really launches this title into the upper echelon of games. It’s fun, it has wonderful themes straight from the pages of many comic titles, and the animated vignettes are fantastic. This game needs to be in every PSP owner’s library.
When Travelers Tales and Lucas Arts developed the first LEGO game, Star Wars, for all of the consoles, consumers were sold on it’s wonderfully silly yet perfectly adapted and faithful transference. The game was a hit and quickly spawned it’s sequel, Star Wars the Original Trilogy. Once again it became a fan favorite with a bit more advanced game play. And then the real evolution began. The PSP released two nearly back-to-back titles: Indiana Jones: The Original Adventures, and Batman. Both games feature fully bricked environments, vehicles and people all made of LEGO, and often times quite difficult game play. Both have a huge cast of characters including every conceivable cast member from I.J., and nearly every hero and villain in the Gotham universe up to and including some a bit odd like The Killer Moth. The games are a blast and having a PSP without them is a crime.
The gameplay of Chains of Olympus is similar to its predecessors; it is a third-person action adventure game that focuses on boss fights. Also familiar to the series are box-based puzzles and the quick time events. There are fewer tightrope walking sequences in the game that were prominent in previous games of the series. Kratos still collects red orbs to power up his weapons and abilities and uses both his Blades of Chaos and the Gauntlets of Zeus as well as a Sun Shield. He also collects Gorgon eyes to increase his health and Phoenix feathers to increase his magic. The game’s controls remain mostly unchanged but because of the PSP’s reduced amount of buttons the game uses both shoulder buttons and the analog stick in order to dodge. This game is an absolute blast with non-stop action sequences, great boss battles (the first with the Basilisk being one of the toughest), and nicely deep story. Let’s all hope for another PSP GOW ASAP!