Like the PSP? You’ll love this..

August 18, 2008 § Leave a comment

Over two weeks gone and the Clockwork Manual seems to be a dying blog so I took it upon myself to inject some life back into it while my companions are in different parts of the world. Yes! You guessed it. Having read the title I will be focusing mainly on the gloriousness of the Playstation Portable today.

The title is a different story. I live in the UK where there’s a channel called E4 if you have freeview or cable of some kind. This morning after coming back from an exhausting attempt to get back into fitness, I saw the programme “Like Rihanna? You’ll love this.” “Hmm,” I thought to myself. A sexy pop star is just what I need at this current time. So naturally I put my feet up and watched. Watched for… 30 fucking minutes and no Rihanna. I mean seriously, what the hell? It was an hour length programme so maybe it was my bad luck or something that all Rihanna related stuff was condensed in the first 30 minutes with the final half being a bigger cock slap than Metal Gear Solid 2. Oh yes, I went there. One could maybe argue that she doesn’t have enough music videos to show off in a whole hour but seriously. I saw just about every other crappy R’n’B video ranging from the last 10 freaking years and no Rihanna. Enraged, I went back to Metal Gear Solid 4.

Inspired by what actually turned out to be an awesome holiday, I wanted to document it on here but I figured no one would be interested in that so I’ll write on games I still managed to get through despite actually being sociable. Right okay, let’s begin. Before going on holiday I stocked up on many PSP games as I thought that would be my primary form of entertainment as the long lost art of conversation with the family appears to have died out. So I’ll do this chronologically. In my time in Los Angeles I was actually rather occupied with doing things and seeing stuff with people I met so I didn’t play a lot but something I liked to play for a while before I went to bed was Crush. Crush is a puzzle platformer and well, its amazing. Seriously, even the people that don’t like puzzle games will like this one. Crush is an interesting and colourful platformer about a boy dealing with insomnia. So the doctor hypnotises him and creates a replica version of himself in his own head. To deal with his sleep problems, the doctor has found that he needs to “crush” them. Now in the game when you crush, you revert to a different dimension which is why I was reluctant to say 2D or 3D platformer on my initial descriptions. With the effortless press of the L shoulder button, you change from 3D to 2D or vice versa to solve problems and get to new places, hence getting to the other side of the level in a second or even climbing a building ten times your own height. What I love about Crush is simply the developers risk of building on a good idea. I’m going to attack two game heres and I apologise in advance if you love these games but two games that show fatal flaws in innovation were Kane and Lynch and Turok. Turok ended up being a generic first person that was spewed from Alien getting raped by Halo 2 whilst Kane and Lynch had potential but instead decided to cock up gameplay. Kane and Lynch actually had a very good idea but I won’t go too far into the story to spoil it. Basically I’m using these two games because they strike me as the developers being reluctant to take a risk. Crush is one of the most original games on PSP and the only thing I can want more from it is a less linear approach to game play. Give it a bigger tie in to the story with perhaps larger levels and objectives. However if it did that it would be a genre mix as the puzzle aspects would be reduced and action increased.

By the time I got to Hawaii I met this awesome Japanese family. At this time I played a lot of games and talked to them about life in Tokyo too and gaming. A girl who was called Lili and her younger brother seemed fascinated by a game I finished before and was dabbling in at the time which was Patapon. Okay off topic but I’ll say this now. Lili was totally one of the prettiest girls I’ve ever seen and was a Final Fantasy/anime/otaku fan. Imagine Tifa Lockhart but with red/brown highlights and longer legs. In Japan, handheld consoles are dominant. I saw an example of this here. Three out of four members in their family had a Nintendo DS to which they were playing a game that was made up of loads of fun little mini games that I’ve never seen before. It seems in Japan, certain developers can’t be bothered to go international in their products and so a lot of cool shit is left unseen. Now when Lili’s younger brother saw Patapon and how it was played, the spoilt little git snatched my PSP from me. Let’s put it on record that I don’t like people taking my games away from me and the only thing stopping me from decking him was his extremely fit sister that could only smile up at me. For those who are unaware, Patapon is a… Fuck I have no idea. If I were to describe it, it would be an RPG in a way because of the items and customization of your army but really its not. I’ll say this first so you know where I stand. I personally have no opinion on Patapon. This game to me would literally be the most frustrating thing to review because I’m completely and utterly unaware of if I love it or hate it and I’ll go onto explain why in a second. Patapon incorporates rhythm and timing of your button presses to do certain commands. You don’t personally move your army using the D pad or analogue stick but with the beats of your drum by doing certain rhythms. I’ll give you an example. Square, square, square, circle in a steady beat would tell your army to advance. You wait for them to sing the rhythm back and instantaneously you must give your next command to keep the cycle going. When the cycle either reaches 10 combo or 4 beat perfect combo, your army reaches a state called “Fever” in which their attack power and movement is increased. Innovative, yes and I applaud that. Seems to me personally that the Japanese love these kind of simple games which is probably why the DS is king over there but I’ll tell you why I dislike it now. In the game, there’s a total of 6 commands you can do. I’d say you play through perhaps 5/6ths of the game with only 4 commands with the last two being available only at the end stages. Finally theres one command which you only need to use twice in the whole game, it’s not like move or attack. This leaves 3 commands. Move, attack and defend. Can you see why this game is limited and tedious? Playing and putting in the same rhythms over and over again for most of the game and for me, strategy never came into it. It only comes into it if you want to play the game for over 40 hours to beat over powered bosses. Next, a huge problem with the game is the fact that the game makes you replay the same levels over and over again. Namely “Hunting” levels. This is to get materials and money to build new and better units. You literally can’t advance unless you do this because enemies get harder at an alarming rate and a serious amount of grinding is involved considering all you’re doing is moving and attacking. There are probably around 20 unique story missions but just to finish the game you would probably have to play over 50. Finally the last dagger through the heart of Patapon. At the beginning of the game, I thought the story was brilliant and was presented in a fantastic way. You play as “Almighty,” a God basically that controls the Patapon morale with the beating of the drum. You are to lead the Patapons to the promised land. However as I progressed, I found the storyline to be clumsy, non-existent and not explained in some parts topped up with an ending shittier than that scene in Trainspotting when Ewan McGregor’s swimming in a tiolet filled with shit. I know what you’re thinking. I ripped that game hard but let me tell you, on the Patapon playtime, my save file clocks up 30 hours of gameplay. Reason for it, is that it’s stupidly addictive and the boss fights are so much fun. You are doing the same thing over and over but seriously you feel the need to find better weapons for your Patapons and build better units. The originality must be applauded as I am a sucker for breaking the generic mould. What I will say is that you should play it if you haven’t already because it’s different to anything you’ve played before but you might end up hating it.

Talking more with Lili she gave me the eagerly anticipated news that Final Fantasy XIII is rapidly on its way. The Japanese seem to be extremely good at keeping things under wraps in their own country. She seems to know even a bit about the story and the protoganist whereas all I’ve seen is Hi-def non-linked awesomeness. Also Metal Gear is rather huge there which I was happy to hear about. Apparently you can buy Metal Gear novelty stuff too only available in Japan. Jon, please can we go to Tokyo?

I shall wrap this up with the best saved until last. God of War: Chains of Olympus is the best game you’ll play on PSP with the possible exception of Crisis Core if you’re a Final Fantasy VII fan. I don’t quite know what to say. I expected it to be laggy and have problems with control but honestly. It’s just like God of War on PS2 except you play it on PSP. Combos are there, weapons and magic choices are there. Graphically each level design is actually unique compared to God of War on PS2 and the brutality of Kratos’ attacks still remain. I finished this game in less than a day and honestly in terms of gameplay, the game has outdone itself. The controls are extremely well polished with effortless ease to swap from combos to blocking and evading. Brutal quicktime events are yet again done fantastically and I love how its just pure gameplay. I’ll go into quickly how I think the story is a disappointment though with random and unlinked events taking place towards the end. As this is a prequel. I really wanted to experience Kratos killing his family and how the Blades of Chaos originated. Instead I felt as if this storyline could have replaced the God of War I storyline which doesn’t scream out well to me. With that said there are some amazing cutscenes with an absolutely fantastic dark way of story telling at the end and I found that to raise the Chains of Olympus plot from shit to mediocre in my eyes. You don’t need to like God of War to play this game, or even like games. Seriously, it’s an absolute treat at just the right length for a hand held console. Don’t bomb through it though like I did, enjoy fighting and the stylish killing in every area.

Final paragraphs dedicated to some games I couldn’t go into detail about. Monster Hunter for example, recommended by Jon. He seems to love it. Personally I can’t see the appeal. It’s true it’s quite hard and I’m probably doing some wrong things or there are things I’m not aware of but I think the combat is a let down and the RPG elements don’t shine through enough. However the items and variation in Quests and environment is very good and still I’ve clocked up about 10 hours on it and yeah I’ll still go back to it. I’m slowly able to manage but seriously the combat is..eh. Lumines = Awesome. I’ve played it too much probably but fucking hell it’s amazing.

To PSP owners. Buy Chains of Olympus. Next, try out the Prince of Persia games on PSP too. You won’t be disappointed.

James is going back to sleep now, will continue Top 10 compilation when life is seen on the Clockwork Manual coming from someone other than myself. Comments, posts, podcasts, anything!

Until next time, James out.

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