Tag Archive | "game consoles"

Portable Gaming Redefined: The Top 5 Signature PSP Games

The Playstation Portable is a truly impressive system, with hardware that easily matches that of the PS2 (which was one of the top ranking systems during the time of the PSP’s launch), many hardcore gamers feel that its extensive library of games are a must have for any real gaming collector. Of course, the PSP has had its share of critics and one of the most often raised points against the system is that it relies on ports of major console titles. We beg to differ. In fact, here are several exclusive made for PSP-only titles that games should look out for.

Patapon

Visually deceptive, this cutesy looking title is actually one of the most original games ever to be developed. By combining music-beats with adventure and RPG elements, Sony’s army drumming game has introduced an all original way to play.

In Patapon, players take on the role of the Mighty One, a powerful deity that commands the Patapon army across forests, marshes and deserts. To do this, players must use four drum beats to command their armies to charge, attack, block and retreat. Special drum beats will also allow one to access special deity powers such as manipulating the weather. In between stages, players are able to micro manage their armies by defining the job specialties of the various “-Pon” units and what equipments they will use.

The story is simple, yet intriguing, placing players on top of a bizarre mythos worshipped by oddly amusing eyeball creatures. As players advance through the game, they learn more of the history of the Patapons, their journey to the ‘Promised Land’ and the many obstacles they face.

Metal Gear Solid: Peace Walker

Gaming legend Hideo Kojima brings the epic saga of Metal Gear Solid to the Playstation Portable in this amazing prequel story to the first Metal Gear game. Following Big Boss’ trail after the events of Snake Eater and Portable Ops, the legendary soldier finally finds a place to call his own and provides a home to soldiers from all backgrounds.

However, earning a base comes with its own strings. In exchange for the high tech facilities, Snake takes on the needs of small war-torn country and their plight from what seems to be an invasion. As the story unfolds, players learn that the invasion is merely a front and that a new Metal Gear project is underway. With nuclear threat on the horizon, the Boss gears up once again to bring down his foes. And this time, it will no longer be a solo mission.

Players now get a chance to link up with friends (thanks to the PSP’s built in WiFi ad-hoc capabilities) and in-game allies to take on this new chapter in MGS. Also, managing the home base will require players to set aside soldiers to manage research, medicine and even prepare some hearty dishes in the mess hall.

Echochrome

Puzzle games are a dime a dozen and very few games in this genre could ever stand out –let alone be defining for a gaming system. But such is the legacy of Echochrome. Story wise, there really isn’t anything here. You control a doll like figure (similar to the ones by artists for posing references) through a series of platforms, stairs and holes as you move from point of origin to the goal.

This is made challenging by the fact that many holes lead to bottomless drops, and the stairs and passageways lead to either open air or dead ends. To get by these players must manipulate the game’s camera to change the way they view the stage. By altering the angle of view, the scene changes; stairs are given an illusion of being connected to an open ended path. And this illusion is more than enough to the game to consider as reality, players are able to walk safely across. The puzzles are original and the solutions are applaud-able, Echochrome and its many challenges certainly deserve all the praise it gets.

The game’s simple black and white 3D graphics allows players to concentrate on the game’s puzzle aspects and the soundtrack is often quiet and thought provoking. With its impressive gameplay, excellent delivery and hundreds of stages, expect to this game pick at your brain for many enjoyable hours on end.

Final Fantasy VII: Crisis Core

Square Enix is taking a new approach to the FF7 franchise by re-introducing the real EX-SOLDIER, Zack. This legendary side character played a bit part in the original series by serving as lead character Cloud’s ideal (he was delusional to the point of claiming Zack’s actions as his own) and through the in-game narrative, we learned that it was Zack who rescued Cloud from the Shinra Mansion at Nibelheim.

But what really happened? Crisis Core answers this question and so much more. Other major FF7 characters are given notice and appear in game as well such as Sephiroth, Yuffie, Aeris and Tifa. Side characters such as Tseng, Rufus, Reno and Rude also make varying appearance and Cid Highwind also gets mentioned in game. For fans of the original game, this is massively nostalgia-inducing game to play.

There is more to Crisis Core than relying on the fandom of the first game however. The game makes use of a unique active combat system that blurs the lines between a hack-and-slash and menu driven RPGs. Players get full, real time control of Zack in combat, and is able to access his entire array of physical attacks and materia skills. As one would expect, SE has provided this game with some of the most amazing graphics seen on the PSP, smoothly combining real-time models with pre-rendered content.

Loco Roco

As much as we love hardcore titles, there are some truly innovative casual games that manage to charm our hearts to unimaginable degrees. Such is Loco Roco. The game is simple, use the L and R shoulder buttons to shake, shift, and tilt the world as your Loco Rocos roll, slide and bounce their way to the goal. As much as we would like to expand more, that is really all there is to this game, and yet it manages to be so good to play.

Aside from its impressive simple yet addictive gameplay, the game features some of the best music to be featured in a game with styles varying from lounge to rock to pop. The stylized graphics provides players with a visual delight as the oohs and aahs of the Loco Roco further endear them to players.

As we said, this is a casual game, but it is still something that hardcore players should not pass up. After all, it is in the innovative titles such as these that the groundwork for even greater games is based.

Wrapping Up

Of course, there are plenty more games for the PSP that are truly amazing to play: Radiant Mythology, GTA: Liberty City Stories, Dissidia Final Fantasy, Jeanne d Arc and so much more. The three games above are merely a sampling of the many great choices players have with Sony’s powerful handheld gaming system and the only real way you can know how great these games are is by trying them on your own.

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Ad Hoc Party: Multiplayer Adventures With Your PSP!

There are plenty of reasons to love the Playstation Portable, and one of these is the fact that the device has its own built in WLAN feature. Just flip up the WiFi switch and you are ready to go online or connect with other players. While Sony has opted to not allow games to have multiplayer options via the PSN, the PSP does support ad-hoc connectivity –giving players all the more reason to meet up with their friends and play together. If you have been itching for some solid cooperative multiplayer gaming fun, here’s a quick list of our most recommended games to try out.

Phantasy Star Portable

Without a doubt, Sega’s Phantasy Star series is one of the most famous multiplayer games of all time. Even with its initial incarnations on the Dreamcast, the game has already been placing its multi-player feature on the forefront. On the PSP, players get to continue the story of the Phantasy Star universe after the events of the first couple of games, bringing a completely new cast of characters and locations.

The game’s menu driven navigation lets you get around the usual array of shops and mission lists in a flash, with the system waiting only for the host player to confirm the commencement of a mission. Once started, players get to explore the mission maps in a full third person action mode. The ingame combat is easy to grasp and the lock on system feels very intuitive. Overall, this game makes for a perfect starter’s run on multiplayer. For those looking for a deeper gameplay, you might want to check out the next entry.

Monster Hunter Portable

Originating from the PS2, this strange dinosaur-monster hunting game has taken the world by surprise. Capcom has come up with a really good formula: a main town where the player has plenty to do such as cooking, mining, fishing and crafting items. Then top it off with specialized missions that place the player out in search of massive creatures through deserts, forests, ice capped mountains and more.

The hunting theme is quite evident in game, from the concept of having to track down a target monster in a large map to the visual details of the town and character models. In multiplayer, the large variety of weapons and items allows players to join and compliment each other’s fighting styles. Currently considered as one of the most famous multiplayer games on the PSP, this is one game you cannot afford to pass up.

Metal Gear Solid: Peace Walker

Unlike our previous two series entries, Peace Walker is a standalone game. This epic prequel story to Metal Gear (and sequel to Snake Eater) brings back more of the stealth based action and cinematic storytelling that MGS is known for. But new to Peace Walker is the ability to link and team up with your friends to accomplish missions.

While it is possible to complete story mode alone, the game is best played with a friend or three. As a team, players can utilize varying squad formations, make joint attacks and accomplish missions faster and more efficiently. As a bonus, creator Hideo Kojima has teamed up with Capcom to put in a few special Monster Hunter stages as well –placing Big Boss (and friends) up against some of the meanest enemies on the MH bestiary.

Godz Eater Burst

It may seem like an odd title, but this Namco Bandai game is currently the best cooperative game out there yet. The controls and combat are often cited to be very simplified and we certainly agree –but remember this is not necessarily a bad thing. With multiplayer games, it is quite often that you have to mind a lot of things in the intermission areas. While there is also some inventory management and crafting to be done in GE Burst, these functions are made simple to accomplish and understand.

The result is a game that lets you focus on the fun part: hunting giant monsters. These monsters, or Aragami, are some of the most epic creature we have yet seen in a cooperative game (and we have seen the whole lot that MH has to offer). You, with a team of three will have to work together and take down these nasty beasts. Did we say beasts? Because we meant to, after all, there are plenty of missions in the game where you and your team will also have to face a squad of these titanic monsters. More often than not, players will have to split up and strategize properly to succeed.

There is no doubt that there are plenty more amazing multiplayer genres available on the PSP, some allow for competitive gaming, and others are also cooperative. But there is a certain charm to the third person action hunting genre that makes it hard to resist. Be it the in depth character customization, or the many things you can do in game, or the fact that you can take on some of the most epic monster battles ever made in a game. Either way, you can expect to see of these types of games to appear in the future, and more reasons to stay connected with your friends.

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Portable Packing: What You Need When You Bring Your PSP

The point of having a portable handheld gaming machine is so that you can move around with it. Bring it out during those long hours of waiting, and be able to send it back to your bag instantly without having to worry. This also means being able to bring your favorite games with you without having to carry a bag full of boxes, in this and many other concerns, the PSP is a great system to have. And here is a quick list of things you will want to have when you travel.

First off, a protective casing; manufacturer Capdase has a large library of solid and soft cases for the PSP’s many variants. The best ones come with their own carry cases as well. Look for a carry case that suits your style (for those with special colored PSP units, a transparent case works best), and ensures that the screen is well protected.

Speaking of screens, invest in a good screen protector. These days, this is as easy as buying a screen protector for an iPhone 4 or an iPad, simply reduce the size with a cutter and a ruler so that it fits your PSP screen. The best thing about these screen protectors is that they are meant for touch screen devices which mean that they are fingerprint resistant. Since this goes directly on top of your screen, it works as a permanent protective layer.

A good microfiber cloth is always recommended. These are small and easy to store so having them around will not be an issue. Best of all, you can easily wipe the screen without worrying about making the typical scratches that from rough cloth and other fabrics.

Speakers are a definite must have, especially if you will be out in noisy locations. The official PSP speakers are simple comfortable earphones with excellent sound quality so there is no need to buy a new one if you are short on budget. But if you really want to get geared up, try some Sennheiser or Audio Technica branded ones for impressive audio quality. For those who want to go for style, Skullcandy has a host of impressive looks to choose from. Sony also has earphone -attached control dock for music fans which is a must-have for those who will be using the PSP as a music player (it also serves as a mini extension cable as well).

For those who spend a lot of time outside (or play games that are heavy battery users), a second battery is definitely recommended. The default PSP battery is small and lightweight to having a second one in your bag should not be a hassle. For those who really spend a lot of time away from home, bring along your charger as well. It should be noted that owners of the PSP-2000 and later models have the option of charging through a mini-USB cable too. There is an official car charger that is available for gamers with access to a vehicle.

Gamers will definitely want to bring their games and thankfully, UMDs are designed to be carried around. Thanks to the non-removable casing, there is very little risk of scratching UMDs; just be sure to avoid touching the exposed area of the disc. Those with plenty of downloaded PSN games (or lots of media) will want to invest in a second memory stick to help make file management a lot easier.

Lastly, bring a small bag! Lugging around the PSP openly could potentially damage the device’s screen if it gets bumped around a lot. A small secure bag with protective padding should do well for handling your PSP and any accessories and games you decide to bring along.

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Tweaking Your PSP: Stuff You Can Do Without Modifying Your System

The PSP is a great portable gaming device, and considering its large library of impressive games, there is plenty of reason to have fun with it. However, there are times when a little tweaking is needed to make your gaming life a little easier, and here are a few things you can do with your device without voiding your warranty.

Make use of the quick hibernate function

Instead of turning off your system fully, just quickly slide up the power tab to set it to into quick hibernate. This is perfect when you are playing a game that does not allow you to pause during a certain sequence or event and you have to really put the device down (you either have to stand up from the waiting lobby and meet your appointment or simply need to check the computer for the latest FAQs about the game you are playing). This also lets you continue your game progress without worrying about the battery life so much –speaking of which, when you see the battery light blinking and you might not make it to the power outlet and charger in time, going into hibernate can buy you that extra amount of time.

Switch out the memory stick for single-auto-save games

The great thing about games that the real world does not have: save points -which basically allow you to redo any wrong decision or action you take. But what about games that have auto-save functions? This is where having a second memory stick comes in. Simply copy your original save file into a new stick, and then switch back and forth depending on your needs. Of course, you will need a computer and to carefully back up and rewrite the save files. Keeping tabs of your save backups will also help a lot here.

For classic PSP-1000 owners, watch the battery

While not exactly a trick and more of a maintenance issue, those using the older PSP-1000 models might notice that their batteries may no longer be charging when using WiFi despite being plugged in. This is due to the old battery not being able to keep up with the device needs. Sadly, the only way to solve this is to buy a new one.

Speaking of the battery, set the PSP to save consumption

If you are out on the road and you want to maximize your battery, here are few things you can do. First off, lower the brightness settings. Those little buttons to the left of “select” allow you to tweak audio and screen brightness settings. Even on lowest, the PSP screen is still easy to see so do not hesitate to lower this. As for audio, strap on earphones (they use less power than headphones and the PSP speakers) and set the volume to a manageable level. Lastly, if you are using your PSP as a music device as opposed to gaming, be sure to set the screen settings to shut off after a few minutes.

Lastly, use the lock!

A lot of PSP owners are not aware that there is a key lock function on the device. Simply slide down the power tab and the PSP will not accept input commands. This is actually great if you are watching a cut scene and do not want to accidentally skip it by pressing a button and for those on MP3 mode.

Aside from swapping out the memory stick, most of these tips are in some ways, semi-documented on the PSP’s manual. All you need to do is to read carefully and you might even find out more useful and practical ways to use the various features of this powerful Sony handheld gaming console.

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PSP Countdown: Things We will Miss When the NGP Arrives

There is plenty of talk about the Next Generation Portable –basically, the PSP’s successor. As much as we all would want to call it the PSP2, Sony’s official name for the new device is the NGP. And so far, most of the hardware features are proving to be quite impressive and promising. Despite all things optimistic, it is hard to deny that there will be a lot of changes, and most certainly, a lot of features will be missed. Here’s a quick list of some of the things we would wish were present for the NGP.

The UMD

The universal media disc has its fair share of detractors, limitations and issues. But the bottom line here is that disc based media has always been a key element for the PSP. While modern flash based storage can easily match discs in terms of storage size, there is a certain charm to the UMD that will be lost. Also, there are plenty of reports that the NGP will be hosting save files on the new game media itself. The only good thing here is that Sony will still be selling physical games –as opposed to the PSP Go style of having only download content.

The XMB

Sony’s Cross Media Bar has been lauded to be an award winning user interface design –and after using it, we can clearly see why. Used in the PSP, the PSX and many Bravia models, the XMB provides users with an easy to use interface for accessing a wide variety of features and controls for Sony systems. Now, a new UI has been introduced for the NGP and it will be making the most of the touch screen input. While impressive, it certainly looks a lot more cluttered and less composed when compared to the more dignified approach of the XMB.

For PSP owners, the XMB has been a major factor for making the device easy to use. Since it is based on the control pad’s directions (up, down, left and right), moving across one set of options to another takes only one tap of a button. Viewing media, managing save files, changing settings have all been made easy with the XMB. Also, a large choice of PSP themes allows players to change the look of the XMB icons and background. Without a doubt, this UI will certainly be missed.

Removable Battery

It may not seem like a big deal for many users, but a removable battery is a great convenience for those us who love to travel. Playing with your favorite games while on the road is a treat that many gamers cannot do without. But sadly, as impressive as any battery capacity may be, games that use plenty of processing power and WiFi connectivity will certainly take a serious drain on your charge. When you are in a location without a decent wall outlet or access to car charger, the only hope you have for gaming is to pack along a second fully charged battery or two. Those of you who love to play ad hoc games will certainly be familiar with how much value a removable battery gives.

In the end, despite all the little drawbacks on the side, there is no doubt that the NGP will still be much looked forward to. After all, with such powerful hardware and a promise of great launch titles, who would not be excited? But the PSP is far from obsolete. With most of the PSP’s major titles just being released, we can expect to see more enjoyable hardcore gaming on this classic Sony handheld before it finally waves goodbye.

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Party Host and More: the Nintendo Wii

The Wii is taking the concept of friendly get-togethers into a whole new realm with its motion gaming controls and multiplayer functionalities. Of course, figuring out which titles to go for is not exactly the easiest thing to do –especially when there are hundreds to choose from. Here are four of our most recommended titles to help you figure out which games would best your party needs.

Super Smash Brothers Brawl

Sometimes, there is nothing that can hold down the hyperactive needs of a preteen boy –let alone four of them. Fortunately, Nintendo’s four-way beat-em-up 2D fighter promises plenty of fast paced action to keep even the most hardcore player of the bunch focused on the game. Smash Brothers brings back a great lineup of Iconic Nintendo characters such as Mario, Samus, Fox, Zelda and more into a free spirited battle tournament. Parents watching on will appreciate many of the old and new Nintendo franchise cameos ranging from the Game and Watch era to the more recent Animal Crossing and Nintendogs title. Metal Gear Solid fans will also be happy to see Snake pop up as a playable character.

Boom Blox

When EA announced that Steven Spielberg was working on a game, we were wondering what kind of fantastic stories he would be bringing to interactive life. Nobody expected that the man would spearhead the creation of a game that would later take spotlight of any party: Boom Blox. It sounds silly and even the concept is hard to take seriously: you throw balls at blocks. But give the game a quick whirl and after five minutes, you and your friends will be addicted.

The game pits you against your friends in turn based ball-throwing battles where you each pit your accuracy and skill at strategic block knocking. There are various gameplay objectives such as blowing up a specific number of blocks or knocking off blocks in a certain order to win. Highly replayable, intuitive controls and an overall fun gameplay experience makes this title a must have for parties.

Wario Ware Smooth Moves

Of course, when it comes to motion gaming, you have to bring out Wario Ware Smooth Moves. Players take turns as they each try to do various motions in order to achieve the various stage objectives. Each stage only lasts a few seconds or so you players have to think fast about what to do. On a multiplayer game, you and your friends have to communicate fast in order to pass the WiiMote (you only use one) around to the next player. Fun, frantic and certain to tire payers out within an hour or two; this is the best way to whip up an appetite before serving the hors d’oeuvres.

Wii Sports

It is old and comes free with your Nintendo Wii, yet Wii Sports is still a much recommended title for those who want to have various activities without having to change discs a lot. Players get to participate in various sports such as tennis, boxing, billiards, air hockey and more. The best part here is that you can get your friends to make custom Miis to use prior to the game –as each player can select their own Mii avatar to play.

The next time you become the designated host of a party and are stumped on what to do; do not hesitate to fire up the Wii and buy some new batteries for the controllers. This little home console will solve all your entertaining needs.

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