Tag Archive | "gaming console"

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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Sony’s PSP Bringing New Life to Cooperative Gaming

We all know the fact that the Monster Hunter series is making waves all over the world thanks to the fact that the PSP has got some pretty sweet WiFi Ad hoc gaming capabilities. But does the multiplayer adventure really stop there? After all, with the deluge of the 3D hack and slash adventure genre, it seems pretty hard to fathom that other types of games would also be available –but they are. And here are three of the most unique cooperative play experiences you can get on the PSP.

Patapon 2

Patapon has made plenty of waves with its unique beat system controls. Now, the super-cute army simulation game takes you and a friend in control of special, customized heroes that will dish out attacks that matches that of a full squad. As a team, players can link up with up to four friends as they march towards various goals in order to hatch an egg. Succeed and the egg hatches into a special item awarded to the host player –with a few side items awarded to everyone. In order to encourage more cooperative play, players will take turns changing the designated hosts.

It may sound simple, but between lugging around a giant egg and facing off massively gigantic creatures, you and your team will have your work cut out for you. This game rewards timing and cooperation: do not hesitate to call out what needs to be done (attack, dodge, charge, etc) and keep your rhythm up to reach your hero’s fever induced super mode.

Ace Combat X2: Joint Assault

While the single player for ACX2 has been a bit of a letdown for many hard core fans of the incredibly popular dogfight simulation series, the cooperative move is undoubtedly one of the most innovative ever made for a game. Up to a total of four human players can link up for this game and depending on each player’s choices and performance, many of the stage events can change.

On a regular mission, players all fly together in a single map in order to reach a certain goal (reach a location, destroy certain targets, etc). On special missions, players are divided into two teams, each with their own map and specific goal. By doing this, players can affect what happens in the adjacent missions. Something similar to stopping enemies from lifting off –effectively prevents what would have been a third wave or reinforcements for the other players.

Of course, there are also competitive missions that you and your friends can play –but with the game’s offering of a full campaign cooperative play, why pass up on such an experience?

Lego Star Wars

There is more than one to choose from and all of the Lego SW games are known for their impressive multiplayer gameplay experience. In this series, two players can link up to control various characters in the famous science fiction storyline. While most of the events follow what is considered to be Star Wars canon, the delivery has been changed to suit the Lego universe a lot better. Most noticeable is the less serious atmosphere and the many humorous scenes that have been inserted in the game. And yes, it is eternally amusing to watch Darth Vader using the force to combine a bunch of Lego bricks to form a bridge.

The gameplay follows your typical 3D action platformer –with an added twist: you are using Lego! Combining the power of the force and the fact that the entire universe is made of bricks, players can switch in and out various characters, build objects, and even break apart obstacles much like you with the actual toys. Each character is designated with one of several ‘classes’ (with a few abilities transgressing each) that helps players get past the many obstacles in the game. Fun, easy to learn and even better when it is played with a friend, Lego Star Wars has become one of our most cherished multiplayer games of all time.

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Sony’s Playstation Portable Takes on the Nintendo DS

For the most part, the handheld console market has been heavily divided between the Sony PSP and the Nintendo DS. Together, these two devices literally controlled the industry, and despite the advent of app gaming for smart phones, game developers know that if they wanted to produce big games, it would be on either one of these two.

Of course, there is a distinct difference between the two devices and while the ideal is to have both (and have access to both gaming libraries), one simply cannot help but compare. So here it is: the PSP vs DS showdown.

Model to Model

One of the biggest arguments that DS owners make is that the later versions of the DS matches that of the PSP. However, on a side by side comparison, the only DS to get a leg up is the DS XL –which offers a larger screen (there is no PSP version with a screen larger or smaller than the original). However, even this is not that big a deal, the PSP’s screen size is still packing a higher resolution. Other features such as the DSi’s browser, media player and camera have all been available since the first PSP device –though the camera is an external attachment that hooks up on top of the PSP. To match the DS’s microphone, the PSP introduced a mic jack for the PSP-2000 model and a built in mic for the PSP-3000.

Input Controls

Sony’s PSP brings to players a directional pad, an analog nub, four buttons and two shoulder buttons. The Nintendo DS makes use of a resistive touch screen instead of a nub. While the DS has an advantage of a second screen, the fact is that most games hardly utilize the secondary screen for any worthwhile purpose (nothing that a pop-out menu on a single screen layout could not change). And even titles that seemed reliant on the touch screen (GTA: Chinatown Wars, Knights in the Nightmare), eventually were ported to the PSP without any control issues. The big drawback for the DS is that they did not make use of a capacitive touch screen (in fairness, the technology was not common back then). Since players would need to hold a stylus with one hand, supporting the entire device with the other hand became slightly difficult. This was especially the case for the first edition of the NDS which was particularly heavy for just one hand.

Portability

Right off the bat, the PSP’s better with its’ quick hibernate mode and simple controls. As with any device that makes use of a stylus, DS players have to be mindful of where they place their sticks. The quick hibernate mode gets a special mention since you never know at what point in the game you will be when your train reaches your stop. While placing down the lid of the DS sets the game into sleep mode, the battery drain is strong. The PSP allows players to quickly press up the power button and send the entire device into hibernation. This lets you head off the train, get to work/class and return to your game at the exact point where you left off later in the evening. With the DS, you’ll be praying the whole time that the battery does not run out.

Hardcore Games

There is no lack of casual gaming titles for both devices. But with established hardcore titles, the PSP has a much larger library. So far, Nintendo has been doing great with many of its big-name first party developed games such as the Pokemon series, Metroid and innumerable Zelda and Mario games. With third party developers however, Sony has more to offer. Capcom’s Monster Hunter series pushes the PSP’s connectivity features to the forefront by emphasizing multiplayer gaming (other such games include Namco Bandai’s Ace Combat X2 and Godz Eater Burst, Sega’s Phantasy Star Portable series, Square Enix’ Lord of Arcana, and Konami’s MGS: Peace Walker). Other major franchises such as the “City Stories” for Grand Theft Auto also appear on the PSP as full games as opposed to the sprite based mini-games that appear on the NDS.

While this may seem one-sided, the NDS is not without its good points. But for the most part, there is very little that the Nintendo device has to offer for the hardcore gaming market. As we mentioned above, a gamer’s true ideal still lies in being able to get both systems and play all the great games available!

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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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A Last Look at Gaming on the Nintendo DS

It will not be long before Japanese game giant Nintendo announces that the production of the NDS handheld game console will finally cease. Initial estimates are saying this could happen sometime around 2012, though some insist that the device will still be in production until 2013. Regardless, the Nintendo DS has taken hold of the handheld gaming industry ever since it first came out last 2004 and has never let go since.

Naturally, a game system’s true strength lies in its games and the NDS’ game library caters to the whole palette of gamers from super casual to the almost deeply hardcore. Titles range from the as-expected Nintendo lineup of favorites such as Metroid, Super Mario and Star Fox, and a few new additions such as Animal Crossing. From third party developers, there are plenty of point and click adventures such as Trace Memory, Phoenix Wright, Professor Layton and several others. A new innovation is the touch-reliant gaming genre, which introduced titles such as The World Ends with You, Knights in the Nightmare and Rub Rabbits –titles whole gameplay factor relied heavily on the touch screen controls. Of course, the user input method was also encouraging for the development of many strategy games such as Advance Wars, FF Tactics Advance DS and many more. Between all these titles are a deluge of music games like Rock Band and Ouendan. As well as plenty of innovative and off-beat titles such as Brain Age, Love Plus, Hotel Dusk and so much more. Nintendo knew that with its unique dual-screen approach, they would start a new trend in the gaming industry –and they did.

The choice to be innovative with the system came with the development of better resistive touch screen technology. Back in 2003 to 2004 (the development period for the DS), capacitive touch screens were pretty much unheard of, let alone multi touch capabilities. For its time, the DS’ stylus based gaming opened up plenty of doors for game makers. For some, it was Nintendo’s courage to double up the screen which made the DS truly shine. Aside from the touch screen between the cursor pad and the buttons, the flip lid has a regular screen –allowing games to display two completely different visuals at the same time. Some games used this feature minimally –using the secondary screen as a map or inventory window. Others use it as an integral part of the game, where players control aspects of the two screens at the same time.

On its own the DS also served a few other purposes. The device can be used as a desk clock complete with its own alarm –not quite the best use for it, but you can if you want to. And the built in Pictochat feature allows you to communicate with drawn images with other DS users. It sounds silly, but you could lose a good couple of hours just having fun with it. Our personal favorite however, is the GBA backwards compatibility feature. You can simply plug in a GBA cart in the bottom of the device and the main system menu of the DS will offer you a choice of choosing which game to boot.

The new 3DS is offering just as much as the NDS (except the backwards compatibility bit) and offers many new features. But with the NDS’ already established gaming library, and the fact that it is already in the hands of over 50 million gamers worldwide, means that it will be a long time before this Nintendo handheld legend fades away.

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Wii for Two: Two Cooperative Games for the Win

Everybody loves to talk about the many multiplayer aspects of the Wii, how impressive the system is for entertaining plenty of people and how well it functions for the family in general. But for standard two player games – that is an issue that is often unanswered yet much valued by hardcore players. So today, we are giving you our favorite cooperative games for the Nintendo Wii. Of course, with plenty of great two player campaigns available on the Wii, we’ve decided to serve up a pair of titles that will really want to make you work with a friend: a couple of the best horror games.

Obscure: the Aftermath

Survival horror games tend to lose their fright factor when there’s more than one player –take Resident Evil 5 for example. But there are times when even having more company doesn’t take the fright away. Enter “Obscure: the Aftermath”. This scary little masterpiece is a sequel to the original Obscure and introduces players to the two survivors of the first game and a whole new bunch of college coeds.

The game is scary, disturbing and frantic. When a bizarre sexually transmitted demonic plague starts creeping about the school, players must controls various pairs of characters through obstacles and puzzles as they try to escape chainsaw wielding psychopaths, mutated flying monsters and a whole host of other malicious beings. The cooperative aspect really shines through as players must support and protect each other. Gone are the days when you are safely picking a lock on a door (which often opens up a user interfaces that temporarily halts any enemies). In Obscure, you will have to count on your partner to shoot down any nasty things that might be coming up your back. For the ultimate in a two player scare fest, we definitely recommend playing this game.

House of the Dead: Overkill

Normally, when people talk about on-rails shooters for the Wii, the Resident Evil Chronicle titles (Umbrella and Darkside) are among the first to be mentioned. But when you want to have a little more fun shooting down zombies and just enjoying with your buddy, then you will certainly want to pop in House of the Dead: Overkill instead.

This game features plenty of 70’s inspired fashion; grind house movie visuals and enough swearing to make a B-movie starring Samuel Jackson blush. It is funny, witty and still surprisingly dark. The game is considered to be a prequel of all the HotD games –showing players the early beginnings of lead character Agent G –the heavy language in the game comes from the second main character, Isaac Washington. The cooperative aspect of the game mainly involves shooting everything onscreen as fast as possible –which is certainly easier with two players. For bosses however, a little more communication and planning are required in order to get the best ranks.

Alone, players will still be able to enjoy, play and finish these two games. But in two-player mode, players get to experience a rich and fulfilling cooperative gameplay aspect that the titles have been truly designed for. If you have not had the chance to try either Obscure: the Aftermath or HotD: Overkill, then now is the best time to bring your best friend over for some real gaming action.

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