Portable problems

PSP - Playstation Portable

Sony had the chance to shake up the portable console market and to maintain its grip on gaming. Somewhere along the line things went wrong after such initial promise. The latest iteration, the PSP Go, has boosted sales but does it have a long-term future?

When Sony announced a portable Playstation the specs were interesting, promising PS2-quality games in the palm of your hand, wireless multiplayer and much more on a clear, wide screen. Many experts did see a potential flaw in the plan, Sony’s new UMD format. The much-maligned optical disk brought technical problems and slow access, and the film companies did not fall in line to support it.

Sony also fought a running battle with the hackers and the homebrew specialists. The processing power gave the chance for great emulation, and the use of memory sticks opened the door to illegal downloads. Firmware updates were met with fast responses from the hackers, the process aided by replacement batteries and other hardware hacks.

Giving the console a make-over quickly proved both a good idea and a drawback for Sony. The PSP Slim models (the 2000 and 3000) both gave a brief increase in sales but made very little real change to the hardware. Sales of games slowed whatever the model, with many stores discounting them and UMD movies soon after release.

More problems hit Sony as its marketing plans backfired. Graffiti ads in America caused controversy, ads for the white PSP were considered racist and the “All I Want for Christmas is a PSP” campaign was embarrassing. The ad company started blogs and put up supposedly amateur videos of kids who wanted the machine for Christmas – only for the gaming community to pour scorn on the whole thing.

One of the biggest problems for Sony was tailoring games to the handheld console. Too often developers tried to shoe-horn a large game more suited to playing at home into a UMD. Gems such as Loco Roco and Patapon were hard to find among the predictable movie licenses and multi-format failures. The Monster Hunter series did wonders in Japan but was slow to propagate worldwide. Gamers bemoaned the lack of a second analogue stick, but did appreciate the ability to download old PS1 games.

The PSP Go was a badly guarded secret that was finally given substance at E3 in 2009. Gone was the UMD drive and in came a new wave of games. The likes of Rock Band Unplugged and LittleBigPlanet showed some ambition. There was still no second stick, the screen was smaller and the sliding mechanism (to hide the controls) seemed like a gimmick too far. Another nail in the coffin came from retailers who refused to stock it due to the lack of additional game sales – since all the games have to be downloaded from the PSN. Room (the PSP equivalent of Home) may just be another bad move. Will existing owners upgrade? Sony threw another spanner in the works by announcing plans for users to trade in UMDs, only to cancel the idea and generate a lot more bad press.

So does the PSP have a future? It will be up to gamers to provide it, but Sony needs to look carefully at its strategy.


Games coming out in March 2011 for Consoles

Crysis 2 wallpaper

It is March Madness and I am not just talking the NCAA. There are a number of good games coming out this March so I hope you have paid off all of your x-mas debt because it is time to open that wallet or purse.

Dragon Age II – Mar 8th

BioWare is back for the next full chapter in the Dragon Age series. This RPG will feature updated graphics and gameplay and a continuing storyline.

Major League Baseball 2K11 – Mar 8th

I got some feedback for not mentioning sports games so here It is. We know 2K sports does it well and even if you are an EA fan you know 2K will make a good game and it looks as if MLB 2K11 will live up to the legacy.

Homefront – Mar 15th

PS3 fans rejoice because now you have a chance to play this story-driven first-person shooter set in the year 2027.

Top Spin 4 – Mar 15th

I was always a fan of the Top Spin tennis series and it is good to see it back for the next gen consoles. You can select over 25 pros and play in a ton of stadiums around the world and even create your own tennis star. Another hit from 2K Sports.

Crysis 2 – Mar 22nd

Remember the benchmarking game called Crysis? Okay, it was not a benchmarking game, but it did make a ton of people upgrade their computers. For us console owners this first-person shooter returns powered by the CryEngine 3 and looks as incredible as ever.

LEGO Star Wars III: The Clone Wars – March 22nd

You have to give it up to the Lego series, even if you were not a fan of the Indian Jones and Batman Lego games the Star Wars series has always been fun to play. This time we enter the clone wars with overhauled visuals and new gameplay including cooperative action.

Shift 2 Unleashed: Need for Speed – Mar 29th

The unleashed series combines what we love the most about racing, fast cars and crashes. It is this mix of racing and violence that made Burnout fun and looks like it works for the Need for Speed series as well.



WWE All Stars – Mar 29th

One large complaint from the Smackdown versus Raw series was the fact that you could not play many of the classic stars from the WWE’s past. With WWE All Star the entire game is dedicated to the legends of the wrestling world and you can pit them against todays superstars.

Parasite Eve: The 3rd Birthday – Mar 29th

Yes, this is a PSP game and yes it takes the Parasite Eve series and makes it more like a shooter than an RPG, but there are some redeeming elements including story that makes this game worth the buy if you already own a PSP.

The Witcher 2: Assassins of Kings – Mar 29th

The Witcher 2 is a direct sequel to developer CD Projekt’s mature-themed fantasy role-playing game based on the works of author Andrzej Sap.

Back in Debt

There you have it, our list of worthwhile games to check out and perhaps buy. We will be back next month with a brand new list and trailers on games to buy, obsolete gamer style.


Parasite Eve: The Third Birthday Trailer

Parasite Eve The Third Birthday

In this latest trailer from Sqaure Enix we begin with Aye laying just outside of a church bloodied wearing a wedding dress. We then dive into gameplay footage once again showing that this game is more run and gun, action oriented than the previous PE’s that were more action RPG related. Switching back to CG the trailer shows that Aye has to remember how it all started. Perhaps we will learn more about the backstory of PE. Keep in mind the Parasite Eve series began as a follow-up to a novel.

So for those who spent the cash on a PSP and are fans of the Parasite Eve series this game could still be worth the purchase.

SNK Launches 8 new classic NEOGEO titles for the PSP on PSN

NeoGeo Station logo
NeoGeo Station logo

Today via the Playstation Network, you will be able to download eight new classic games for your Playstation Portable. Here is the list of released games.

A classic shooter from the early days of the NEOGEO, blasts off once again from NEOGEO Station! Equip up to three pieces of armor, which also serve as weapons, for a variety of attacks such as the laser and flamethrower. Use them to defeat the evil “Fulvar” and save mankind!

The fighting game that redefined the genre, also the first 100 Mega Shock title, is back on NEOGEO Station! Its innovative spirit gauge and super attack moves, combined with exhilarating effects and dramatic event scenes, make it a must-play for all fighting fans.

A title that launched with the NEOGEO in 1990, suits up for NEOGEO Station! Inspired by big league ball, it features a VS Mode and a Tournament Mode, dynamic animation, voiced commentary, and an array of up-close action shots for the complete baseball experience!

A simple yet exhilarating bowling game, rolls onto NEOGEO Station! Players select their own ball and which arm to use. Then it’s just choosing a direction and how much power to apply! Features three game modes and hilarious, over-the-top animations when you get that strike!

A platformer from ADK and a NEOGEO launch title is resurrected on NEOGEO Station!  Set in a mystical realm, players go on a quest to defeat the evil wizard Gal Agiese and his horde of monsters. Use magic attacks and combine elemental orbs to change between six different forms!

The original weapon-based fighting game, is back for battle on NEOGEO Station! Samurai, ninja, and other exotic fighters star in this classic that focuses on powerful strikes. Features a rage gauge that turns incurred damage into attack power, and intense, button-mashing weapon clashes!

SNK’s first soccer game, takes to the field on NEOGEO Station! Dribble, pass, and shoot your way to victory as you go head to head with powerhouses from around the world in the SNK Cup. Come out on top and enjoy a toast worthy of a champion!

The first game hailed as a dream match of SNK characters, makes its way to the NEOGEO Station! Still beloved by countless fans, its revolutionary three-on-three team battle system sets it apart from all other fighting games.

The titles are available for $6.99 each.

Angry Birds and Tetris to the PS3 and PSP

Playstation Network
Playstation Network

As a follow-up to our review on Angry Birds the game is set to fly onto the Playstation 3 and Playstation Portable Console this week.  The only question that remains is will the addictive puzzle game be a winner on a major console system.

In other news one of the most famous puzzle games out there, Tetris will be making its debut on the Playstation Network this week.

Parasite Eve: The Third Birthday

Parasite Eve The Third Birthday
Parasite Eve The Third Birthday

Oh look, another game from a series we love on a game system we don’t. While it was true many fans of the Parasite Eve series did not think part two was a proper follow-up they were still chomping at the bit for another installment. Unfortunately, the next PE is only going to be available on the PlayStation Portable and to add to that the game is going through some… changes.

The story this time starts with an assault on Manhattan by creatures the police call the Twisted. Within a year a task force called CTI or Counter Twister Investigation is formed and our favorite supernatural superpower heroine is part of that squad.

The gameplay will have a bit more third person shooting elements, but will still have a little survive horror and RPG aspects to it. You will have a number of new abilities including one called Overdrive which allows you to not only control team members, but jump into the minds of the Twisted to do some major damage.

As you can see in the video most of the gameplay is from a behind the back or over the shoulder view and you spend most of your time running and gunning which could turn off fans of the slower but more interesting RPG and puzzle style. Most of Aye’s power-ups will be there including liberation which gives her a burst of super energy to mow down her enemies.

Personally, I am torn because while a run and gun game can be fun it is not Parasite Eve. Yes, there was a lot of action and shooting in PE, but the RPG aspect of the game really made it worth a purchase for me. In addition, being forced to buy a PSP just leaves a sour taste in my mouth and it is the reason I did not buy the latest Final Fantasy 7 game.

Sony needs to wake up and realize that while the PSP is not a bad system it is not a winning system and they should spend their time focusing on the PS3. If you want to go the Nintendo route and release new versions of fan favorites fine, but do so for your main console and stop trying to ram this system down our throats.

The Third Birthday is set to release today in Japan and Q1 in the US and EU.

Games to Buy: December: Week 3

Sony PSP
Sony PSP

I am going to name this report turn-back Tuesday because there are a number of retro games being released. So, I have some good news and bad news. The good news is these classic games are awesome, the bad news is you will have to have a PSP to play them. Ah, the PSP, it’s like the ugly daughter of a billionaire. You don’t want to take her out, but if you do you get to drive the Mercedes.

As a boycott all the videos will be from the original games.

Metal Slug

The ultimate in slide scrolling shooters, if you haven’t played this on an emulator go do so now. This is one of those games you can play over and over forever. It’s you, the lone wolf with an arsenal of weapons from machine guns, to flamethrowers to tanks, against a horde of bad guys. This game is fast paced with great graphics and music and it is hard as well.

Art of Fighting

This title shows its age a bit more than other Neo Geo games. It’s really like a mix between Street Fighter and Final Fight in the way the characters move along with the backgrounds. Having the ability to move back and forward added an interesting dynamic to the game. One thing I personally thought this game suffered from was the cheap combos some characters could use, but honestly if you are good you can overcome them.

Fatal Fury

SNK, that is pretty much all you need to know. This is yet another great fighter from the Neo Geo that is more geared to counters than most other fighters. There are a lot of great fighters in Fatal Fury and learning all their combos is the key to winning, but with almost all fighters from SNK there are some shoe in characters that will just own you with a few moves. The graphics and sound isn’t as high end as other Neo Geo titles, but the moves were pretty fluid for the time. As for the music, not personally my favorite soundtrack, but they did a decent job.

Samurai Shodown

Another awesome fighter from the Neo Geo. Samurai Shodown is all about the art of the weapon and it allows players to pick a character based on their play-style. If you love to attack from far you can pick a character with a longer sword or a ranged attack like that damn bird that owns me. Like in Art of Fighting you can move forward and backward as well as side to side in order to better setup your attack. Graphic wise it is a little cleaning and clearer than Fatal Fury and the soundtrack is more slated to the time period. Samurai Shodown is one of the best weapon fighters of all time.

The King of Fighters ’94

Rounding out the Neo Geo flashback is King of Fighters where here you pick teams of three and represent your country in team based fighting. The King of Fighters takes characters from various SNK game including pre-NEO GEO ones and allows you to battle it out. The gameplay is the same as Fatal Fury or Art of Fighting as far as controls and combos. However the Team Battle System is what makes KOF so cool.

PSP or Emulator….

Look, sure you could go and get a ton of emulators that could play these games. In fact you could even mod your PSP in order to play these very games emulated, but you wouldn’t want to do that would you? I didn’t think so, see you next time.