PSP

Katamari Dammit!

If you walk around my flat bare-footed, crap will get stuck to your feet.

I don’t mean literal crap – I’m not that slovenly – but it will start with maybe a little dust mote. Then maybe a feather from the pillows. Then a bit of stray leaf that blows in from outside. With me, I’ve become so used to it that it doesn’t at all surprise me when I look down and find next door’s cat halfway up my shin.

Imagine my surprise when I came across Beautiful Katamari, a game that has successfully encapsulated my domestic inanities.

OK, when I say ‘surprise’, I’m lying a bit. Katamari is almost as old as that thing where you go to step out of someone’s way but then you both move to the right and end up doing this stupid little dance thing until one of you finally crouches into the foetal position and cries “OH GOD STOP”. Much like people do when I start talking. But I spotted Beautiful Katamari in the local game store and was urged to buy it by the nearest member of staff after I confessed to once playing early installment Katamari Damacy.

For those of you that don’t know, the idea behind any Katamari game is that you roll a sticky ball around brightly-coloured dynamic environments in order to pick up items that are smaller than you, thus creating a ball with an infinitely larger diameter. It’s a harder task than you imagine, especially when you roll yourself  merrily towards a Dayglo anime Thermos and then bounce viciously off of it because you didn’t realise you were smaller than it.

Just like having to pick bulb filaments out of my heel every so often, Beautiful Katamari is a little bit frustrating. The gameplay is actually fun – they could have just stuck the same formula (small member of Royalty rolls ball around) into different locations (supermarket, cafe, City centre, S&M dungeon) but they’ve added innovative twists to the later stages. For instance, you have to recreate the planet Mars, and in order to do so you need to roll up enough hot items to reach a certain temperature in a world peppered with spicy sauce and jalapeno pizzas as well as snowmen and fire extinguishers.

The most unforgivable thing in the world – sadly – is one of the main characters. The story is that the King of All Cosmos, an overzealous megalomaniac with a penchant for phallic headwear was playing tennis with his wife one day, until he managed to crack a hole in the bloody sky and lose most of the heavenly bodies in it. As the mute Prince, you have to do Daddy’s bidding and gather a bundle of objects together to recreate the planets.

This would be fine if King Purpletights would just leave you alone. The screens are already packed full: what with 3D yogurt pots and crayons flying about and the Prince and his ball smack in the middle, the last thing you’d want is some giant speech bubble obstructing your view. But oh, Big Daddy King is all too happy to oblige when it comes to giving you what you don’t want. And Heaven forfend you start rolling without him: he launches into a tirade of anger, finishing with “We are NOT speaking to you!”. Which would make you cheer, only as soon as you turn a corner, he feeds you an obscure Star Trek quote and insults your abilities.

Despite my whingeing, I’m really enjoying the game and am actually going back to re-play levels – something I haven’t done since Arkham Asylum. It’s part puzzle, part roaming platformer, and a hell of a lot more fun that picking Christmas tree needles out of your toes.

~Neetyneet

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PSVita – It’s Coming!

I’ve been waiting for E3 with much eagerness. I just knew that we’d see more info coming for the next PSP and well we have.

First we got to find out that instead of being called the NGP the official name is the PSVita. And with that we got an official show off from Sony just how shiny it’s going to be. Have a look.

I think I’ve watched that video about 5 times now. It affirms all the features we were promised previously, including the dual touch screen on the front and back. Between that and the giro built into the Vita I think we could see some seriously awesome gaming in the future.

Look just what is being done with Little Big Planet on the Vita. If this is just the beginning of games utilising the new features of the Vita, think what the future may hold.

Pricing hasn’t been set in stone yet, but it looks like the US will pay around $250 and £250 for the UK for the WiFi model and a bit more for the 3G model. I’m sure we’ll hear more as we get closer to the holiday release schedule which is when they said they’d be letting the Vita loose on the world.

I tell you this, I will be pre-ordering.

~Donna


Yo Ho Ho Lego

I love (most of) the Lego games; let’s face it, the Traveller’s Tales’ version of the Star Wars prequels is far superior to the <expletives deleted> movies delivered by Uncle George. Quite a lot of other people obviously thought so too, meaning that before too long the original Star Wars movies were also given the same loving treatment. And then it was the turn of the first three Indy films to be masterfully translated into mini-fig form (personally my favourite of the franchise so far). But it hasn’t all been plain sailing; I didn’t get on well with the Batman game for a variety of reasons and J. K. Rowling really doesn’t need any of my money, so it’s been a while since I’ve played. That didn’t stop me from getting a bit over-excited when I saw that there was going to be a Lego Pirates of theCaribbean game, though.

So I was very pleased when my lovely husband brought home the X-box 360 version of the game for my delectation and delight. I’ve not done much on the X-box; having small hands, I have some issues with the sheer size of the joypad and therefore comfort during extended play. It’s taken a bit of getting used to, but on the whole it’s not too bad (even if I do still call all the buttons by their PS names).

All four films are included and they’ve been translated well, particularly given how unnecessarily complex Dead Man’s Chest and World’s End were. The Black Pearl chapter is a fun introduction to the game before you’re plunged into wondering what the heck you’re supposed to be doing in quite a bit of chapters 2 and 3. This is partly due to the difficulty of getting tortuous plot points across via the medium of mini-fig mime and because some of the sets are a little dark and viewed from a weird angle. Still, we only had to resort to a walkthrough twice in the entire game (albeit after much scratching of heads and “So, what do you think we’re supposed to do now?” moments). This may be because I’ve only seen the middle two films once each and I didn’t really like them all that much so the details haven’t stuck, but it was a bit frustrating at times. At least the game version of World’s End makes better use of Chow Yun Fat that the movie did; yes, you do get to play Chow Yun Fat, and it is good. The current film (Stranger Tides) is nicely abridged; thankfully the Bloom/Knightley cipher characters are mostly side-lined (although what they’ve done with the preacher is hilarious) and the plot is back to being much more easy to follow.

One of the major problems in previous games was with the multi-player option; you know, the lethally dragging your partner off the screen when you wander off somewhere, forcing them to drop-out of the game if you want to save your precious pennies. This has now been fixed with a split-screen mechanic. Not that it’s entirely perfect, but it’s a massive improvement over what went before. The only other real niggle with the game play is that in the multi-player story mode far too many levels rely on one player going off and solving quite a large proportion of the puzzles while the other player has to stand around and wait for them to finish. Thankfully, though, the vehicle levels are much more straight-forward than in previous incarnations (no trying to catch and then lob giant snowballs down wampa holes, for instance).

The quality of the animation is superb, as you would expect, not only in the game itself but also in the loading screens, which are incredibly cute cut-out puppets frolicking aboard a variety of pirate ships. The animators have captured Captain Jack’s bizarre mincing walk perfectly and provided proof that Orlando Bloom is, in reality, an escaped giant mini-fig. In many cases, the quality of the acting on display has gone right up when compared to the original portrayals; I mean, it’s not as if you could ever accuse the mini-figs of giving a wooden performance. Seeing as, well, you know, they’re made of plastic (or in this case, pixels; I’ll get my coat). There’s the usual slap-stick humour, including an obsession with pigs, and the standard story and free-play modes where you run round trying to become a true pirate and collecting ships in bottles. And thankfully there’s still the same high level of gratuitous, utterly wanton destruction which helps to make these games so much fun in the first place.

The designers at Traveller’s Tales have a winning formula and an obvious love and respect for their subject material. There are hours of obsessive game-play if you’re determined to collect everything, but it’s just as easy to dip in and out as the mood takes you. If you’ve never played a Lego film adaptation game before, this is a pretty good introduction; I mean, its pirates AND Lego – where can you possibly go wrong?

~fuschiabegonia


NGP: The PSP2

Okay before I get started on this, let’s have a look at a handy little video from the conference that shows us how pretty it is and some if its stats.

Shiny huh? I’ll give you a moment to drool. Done? Alright.

The 2 things on my wish list for the PSP2 was a touch screen and an analogue stick that didn’t break my thumb. Looks like they’ve doubled my request. There are 2 analogue sticks and they look considerably better than the ones on the PSP currently. SO no more breaking my thumb.

Now the touch screen is of great interest to me. On the DS (I do own one) the addition of the touch screen created another layer for games. It added a new way to interact with the games on a new level that made developers have to think. Zelda or Cooking Mama without a touch screen wouldn’t have been the same. Can you imagine a good RPG with a notes screen so you didn’t have to memorise important facts and clues? To take things to another level the PSP2 will have a touch screen on the front and back. Being able to manipulate the screen without your fingers in the way? Hell yes! I can’t wait to see what developers do with this dual touch screen.

So what else? It’ll have a 5 inch OLED screen. That will be nice of course and it should help cut the weight. For connectivity it’ll be 3G, Wifi and GPS enabled. That should be useful since it’ll have an Android store built into it, or access to it at least. So more than just gaming possibilities. Still I don’t need it to do things my mobile phone already does. To round things off it’ll have 6 Axis Motion Sensing system and a shit hot CPU.

There is no UMD though. I’m not sure how I feel about this.  As mentioned previously I have an irrational like of the UMD option. To move forward though I’ll just have to let it go and embrace going digital.

Sounds good. Now we just need a release date, games list and a price.

Codename NGP


Still a PSN Addict But No PSPGo

I know I’ve mentioned before that I’m a bit of a PSN addict. Every Thursday, like clockwork, I check the new store items. I realised recently that I can’t actually remember the last time I bought a physical game for my PSP. Why would I when I can get a pretty good selection right off the PSN and I only have to wait as long as it takes to download.

So why don’t I have a PSP Go? Well I can answer that easily, but not rationally. I like my UMD disks. I like to have the option despite the fact that I haven’t used that option in quite some time. It’s a completely irrational reason to keep a piece of hardware that has lower specs and capabilities despite not using the one feature I’m keeping it for. I do have one rational and very good reason for not having one though; the price tag. As much as I love my handhelds, £250 is still a bit steep for me. Considering you can buy a whole console for way less than that.

PSP2 Fan Concept Rendering

Of course now I might as well wait for the PSP2. If I’m lucky the rumours will be true and Sony will be making an announcement on the 27th. That’s 3 days before my birthday. Come on Sony, make me a happy birthday girl. Announce something awesome that isn’t anything like the failed PSPGo. Okay truth be told; I’ll settle for a touch screen and a analogue stick that doesn’t break my thumb.


I Cho Cho Choose You

We all have our favourites.

Favourite food.
Favourite comics.
Favourite writers.
Favourite guilty pleasure TV show.

Favourite gaming platform.

When we all make a choice, oh wait…erm…okay. When most make a choice of what platform they will favour and play on they have a reason. If you’re me you never make a choice completely. The question is, why do you favour one platform over another? I don’t mean, which is better, but why do you like it so much that you’re willing to sink your hard earned cash into it.

I lie, I do play favourites. I have an irrational and rational bias towards the Sony platforms. In regards to the Playstations, it’s usually been a hardware and game bias, mostly hardware. I do love my DS, but there’s just something nice about the shiny PSP that makes me love it.  That aside I do own all 3 consoles, both handhelds and a kick ass PC. Not to mention the board games and tabletop RPGs. I flit from platform to another, but most people aren’t like me.

So here’s my question to you: Why’d you make your choice?


Golden Joysticks!

It’s that time again! It’s the time of year when the Golden Joystick Awards starts their voting. You can vote here on their website. You have until May 27th. It’s the long list voting at the moment, but best to get in there early so you can help your favourite game get into the short lists. I always find it hard to vote in the long lists because there’s always just so many games listed. It’s the only awards I ever pay attention to though because they are 100% voted for by gamers. None of this committee who doesn’t remember the games or doesn’t know anything about games.  To me that’s a big deal and a good thing.

So get to voting. Cause we need awesome games like Batman: Arkham Asylum to win awards cause they’re awesome, not because someone paid the judge.