Crush (PSP) – Initial Impressions

The concept behind crush is very very similar to that from the recent Super Paper Mario, but I have a feeling the market of people that own a Wii and own a PSP is rather slim.  But still…

The story’s a little weird to start, basically an insomniac using a virtual reality device to try to cure him.  Each 3D level is a small platforming around with colored marbles about.  To open the exit of the level, the player needs to collect a certain number of marbles, and then make it to the  exit.  There are also special bonus items one can collect.  In this fashion, the game’s similar to other puzzle-action PSP titles like Gripshift.

The feature of this game is that you can have the player “stomp” to flatten whatever view you are looking in from 3D into 2D.  The views are fixed to top down and the four directions parallel to the ground.  When you do this, you end up either as a simple top-down maze (if starting from the top view) or a 2D platformer from any of the sides.  This causes platforms that may be separated by a great distance in 3D to be a step away in 2D.  Some blocks are impassible, and your stomp will be canceled if it leaves you in a precarious position.  There’s monsters that roam some of the levels that a proper stomp will crush them.  Unstomping can result in you being on a platform you could have never been on in 3D mode, so this allows you to get the necessary marbles to get the exit opened.  Unlike SPM, you can spend an indefinite amount of time in either mode without damage, which is good for collecting all the extra goodies that are available.

So far, through the tutorial and first handful of levels, there’s nothing impossible, though I think I’m still learning the “rules” of the game and most of the steps I take are by trial  and error.   But compared to some of the other puzzle games, this one seems to offer the first unique variation on the theme, and with Super Paper Mario still fresh, it’s easy to think on how the puzzles work here.

Puzzle Quest: Challenge of the Warlords (PSP, DS) – Review

Puzzle Quest - Cover (PSP)“Puzzle Quest: Challenge of the Warlords” produced by Vicious Cycle Software and Infinite Interaction and distributed by D3 Publisher for both the Sony PSP and the Nintendo DS, is a simple Bejeweled clone at it’s core, but offers a lot of RPG and collectable card game-type components that readily mixes up the basic formula to produce a game that’s fun to play in short bursts or long sessions.

The version reviewed here is the PSP version. While there are noted differences in graphics and presentation of the DS and PSP version, the core game is basically the same.

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Puzzle Quest: Challenge of the Warlords (PSP) – Initial Impressions

I’ve heard a lot of word of mouth about this title, and so once I found it (it’s a surprise hit, so shelf copies are limited in many places), I will say the initial premise and game looks very very promising.

It’s basically a Bejeweled puzzle/casual game dressed as a fantasy RPG.  Your character takes on quests, during which he or she must ‘fight’ opponents.  Battles are done using a standard Bejeweled board with multiple types of tokens with the usual rules: swap any two adjacent tokens to make a line of three as to clear them and have more tokens fall to fill that.  However, the types of tokens you clear become important: there’s colored ones that represent mana for magic spells, experience tokens, gold tokens, and skulls which can be matched to instantly hurt your opponent.  Yes, your opponent, because as opposed to the usual Bejeweled approach, you take turns between your opponent to move tokens and reap the benefits.  This usually prevents you from setting up long combos that you could sometimes do in Bejeweled as the computer opponent is likely going to find the best point for those (and I’ve heard reports that the AI, as you get up there, is realllly good), so it’s a matter of considering the current board.  The mana you get for spells (which get more powerful with experience) can be used instead of swapping at any turn to cast a spell usually damaging your opponent.   Vary store and quest items change the frequency of how pieces come on the board during battle and other aspects.

I’ve only done a few handful of missions but this combination of RPG/casual game (which is very pick-up and go) already has me hooked.

I will note that this game also exists for the DS, but as I’ve read it, the PSP tends to be better, the graphics outweighing the simplicity of the DS controls.

Ratchet and Clank: Size Matters (PSP) – Review

Size Matters Cover“Ratchet and Clank: Size Matters” is the 5th game in the popular shooter/platformer series, though while the previous entries were created by Insomniac Games, this installment comes from High Impact Games, which does include a number of former Insomniac people, and is also the first to appear on the Playstation Portable. While the game has every element of a Ratchet and Clank game, there’s just something out-of-place with it due to how the elements are combined that make this title definitely lacking from it’s previous namesakes.

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Ratchet and Clank: Size Matters (PSP) – Initial Impressions

So far, so good – there’s always worries in taking a game that was built for the Dualshock and making it into a PSP.  ‘Daxter’ did a good job of this, and I’m glad to say that R&C has made the transition to PSP as well.  The controls allow you to move with the analog nub or the dpad (as you see it), the other control being strafing.  You can also set the camera to be dynamic and thus remove the usual need for the second analog stick.  Everything else seems to be standard for the game, save for a twist in dealing with jumping issues.

All the usual elements are there are well, so despite not being a Insomniac title, it looks like it will be good.

Every Extend Extra (PSP) – Initial Impressions

The little freeware game Every Extend gets a port by Q Entertainment (the same people that made Lumines and Meteos) into a nice little game that works well on the PSP.  If you’ve not played the original (free to download from the above link), the idea is that you beat the game by blowing your ship up as to create chain reactions of the various objects that fly across the screen; you each more ships with more points, so you always have to be looking for large combos to score with.  The play in EEE is little different, but now they’ve added ‘drives’ similar to Lumines’ skins with music (and game play tied to the music like from Rez) and graphics to keep each level fresh.  It works fine with the PSP controls.  It’s a nice change of pace from the usual PSP fare.

Lumines II (PSP) – Initial Impressions

Gameplay is for the most part the same as Lumines, but with the visual improvements that the Lumines Live adds (better visual indicators of score bonuses).

The one big thing is that among skins (including exisiting ones with updated graphics from the first game, and likely some of th new ones in Live) is that there are licensed songs with their music videos running behind the normal play.  Unfortunately, it looks like instead of switching to a new level after clearing so many squares with a video skin, you have to keep playing on that skin until the video completes (there’s still musical beats when you drop and clear blocks that work with the music).  The two videos I’ve hit aren’t hard skins, but I’m wondering if that’s true for all the cases.  More time is necessary to determine this.