By Guest writer – Daniel Lipscombe
PSP Minis are basically iPhone games, but for the PSP. Minis use a very similar mechanic to its touch screen competitor, simple, quick and easy games to play in bite size chunks. They’re perfect for bus journeys, bhttps://neilmc74.wordpress.com/wp-admin/post-new.phpack of the car or even bathroom breaks. With the Minis range only recently starting out, some games can be very hit and miss, Electro-Candy are bringing you a breakdown of ten current Minis available; to help you choose what you should be playing on your PSP.
Pinball Dreams is the classic 1992 Amiga game converted for PSP, featuring four tables there is a selection of which table you want to prove yourself on. Unfortunately Pinball Dreams is very basic compared to newer pinball, each of the tables plain and simple, two flippers, a few bumpers and a couple of ramps. This means that despite the hook of High Score leaderboards, it’s likely you’ll get bored of the selection before blistering your thumbs. The best feature however is the ability to switch to a larger view and rotate the PSP lengthwise and using the face buttons to flipper rather than the shoulders.
While Pinball Dreams is great to relive the past, it’s far too basic to enjoy over longer periods of time, ideal for that short bus ride, but I think even then it may struggle to hold your attention.
Fortix is a remake of Qix, a game that requires you to fill in a screen by controlling a knight and revealing a picture, in this instance that picture is the kingdom that you’re tasked with protecting and liberating. As you move your knight around the kingdom you will pick up power ups that aid you, moving faster or spawning cannons that take out enemies like dragons and blood bats. The ultimate goal is to capture the fort in the picture; this can be particularly tricky due to fast moving enemies and a time limit.
Fortix has a simple premise but is a very challenging game with plenty of features and a fully fledged story to experience. The biggest problem with Fortix is how tough it can be, your cannons that you capture in the kingdom can be very slow to fire so can feel very unhelpful. Frustration sets in quickly and you can find yourself reaching for the HOME button.
DynoGems is a classic puzzler that will hook you from its opening screen. You’re given a cute Dinosaur who looks down a playing field at a descending stack of coloured bricks, quite a simple challenge; keep matching four bricks of the same colour until you reach the target score for that level. The beauty of this title is its simplicity, some of the best games in the puzzle genre are a success because they build on the block matching system and DynoGems does it very well.
There are a plethora of power ups to use, from lightning bolts that wipe out full columns of blocks to items that remove all of the blocks on screen giving you a fresh layout, this helps if you’re stuck. DynoGems is a great game and it has that “just one more go” feel about it, a great addition to the Minis range.
You may have noticed by now that there is a trend with PSP Minis, most of them are older games rehashed for the portable and BreakQuest is no different. BreakQuest is basically Breakout or Arkanoid, you control a paddle at the edge of the screen and bounce a ball around destroying blocks. There is, however, a twist here and that is the ability to guide the ball around, much like in Shatter – another PSN title – with the shoulder buttons. This allows you to curve the ball around objects and get out of tight spots easily.
You start off by choosing your ship and starting the level, all sounds very simple and it is, but the actual game itself is quite tough, even on easy. I found myself dying repeatedly and succumbing to frustration. The levels are brilliantly designed with bright colours and off the wall quirks and the sound is fantastic, very tuneful and reminiscent of arcades, much like other games in this style there are power ups and also power downs so achieving that high score may be tricky. While BreakQuest is an interesting take on the Arkanoid concept, it falls short on its appeal to a more casual gamer due to its difficulty.
Blast Off is the ‘Trials HD’ of the PSP. You control a rocket that has to fly around in space picking up stranded astronauts and avoiding smashing into a planet. The analogue nub controls the angle of your ship while the X button is your blast off and thrust, this control system means that steering your ship is much like controlling a drunken deer on ice. You will constantly find yourself tapping the left bumper, which happens to be your restart button, after gliding off course or missing an astronaut before zooming off to the next level.
Blast Off is incredibly well designed, very tricky in places but with a quick restart button it’s easy to just keep trying to get that perfect score. Finding the paths through the obstacles, picking up the space dwellers and slingshotting into your final goal is thrilling and enjoyable. Just keep an eye on your fuel and air consumption; it’s not just about the journey. A must have for PSP owners.
Heracles Chariot Racing
Heracles poses a problem, who would we rather be a Greek muscle-bound hero or a fat Italian plumber? The reason for this speculation is that Heracles Chariot Racing is a Mario Kart copy. As Heracles you must please the Gods by holding chariot racing tournaments and of course, win them. Your winning is aided by helpful weapons being strewn around the track, speed boost pads, in fact everything that you would come to find in a Mario Kart clone.
But that doesn’t stop this game from being fun; sure it’s copying a classic and well known game, but then who hasn’t? Heracles has ten courses to race and nine characters to use, so there’s plenty of variety in how you play. Heracles is just pure fun, it doesn’t have the charm of other Kart racers but it’s enjoyable while it lasts. The only major drawback is that it can be quite easy, so fans of the genre will likely finish it and move on quickly.
Dracula – Undead Awakening
This game was originally called iDracula, I’m sure you can figure out why. iDracula was and is a very popular twin stick shooter on the iPhone, it’s very intuitive on that system and plays very well, I only wish I could say the same about this version. On the iPhone version, the touch screen forms two sticks in order to control our hero, one to move and one to shoot, this is of course impossible on the PSP due to only having one analogue nub. This means playing Dracula means moving with the nub and shooting in only eight different directions by using the face buttons.
This ruins the game instantly, it doesn’t matter how many modes there are and how could they can be, it doesn’t matter about the power ups, what matters is playing this game is very awkward. There is no simple way of playing and enjoying the game to its fullest, walking into monsters because you’re fiddling with the face buttons to shoot, is not fun. Perhaps this time Dracula should have stayed dead.
It’s safe to say that the PSP Minis range will soon be awash with iPhone games readjusted for the PSP controls and coming up fast behind Dracula is Fieldrunners. Fieldrunners is one of /the/ most popular games on the iPhone for its simplicity, a tower defence game where you must control a battlefield and halt the approaching army. I came into this game after Dracula and was very sceptical, I was pleasantly surprised however. The controls are marvellous; in fact I would go so far to say they are better than the iPhone.
Whereas on the iPhone version you would tap the square to place a unit and then tap the unit to upgrade it, the controls are set to the D-Pad here with the nub controlling the zoom and X as your use button. This is a very fluid system that allows for quick unit placement and upgrades are done by selecting and pressing right on the D-Pad to select the upgrade, you could also press left, if you wanted to sell said unit.
Otherwise the game hasn’t changed, it’s still wonderful to play, and it retains its various maps and difficulties from the original version. This is a game every PSP owner should buy.
Kahoots is reminiscent of lemmings, your Kahoot wanders back and forth along a platform waiting for you to guide him to his goal. You have to manipulate his environment to help him avoid enemies and pitfalls on his way to the end of the level. This is done by moving the blocks that he walks on, you can only slide them from side to side and some can’t be moved, or indeed, moved past at all. You can pause time to think ahead but a lot of the game requires split second thinking and movement. The way to move our little kahoot friend is to utilise trapdoors, springboards and the world itself to move from platform to platform and find his way out.
Kahoots is a great puzzle game that seems to have been influenced in looks by LittleBigPlanet and it will keep anyone going for ages. Bonuses can be achieved by picking cakes before you exit the level so finding the best route is always key. As the levels progress you are taught how to play by the peg monster, a bizarre monster made of wool with a clothes peg for a mouth, he sings to you in the most hilarious way and has to be the highlight of the game. Kahoots is amazingly great fun.
Let’s Golf is easily the best game of this bunch of Minis, another iPhone game brought over to the Sony handheld, but this is truly a gem. A golf game very similar to big hitter, Everybody’s Golf, also available on Sony consoles, let’s Golf is instantly playable and simple to pick up and enjoy. Choose your cute character and adventure off onto the links for exhibition matches, tournaments and hot seat mode – which is a pass the PSP mode. The visuals are fantastic and really appeal to any gamer; the music is peaceful and melodic whilst playing which allows you to relax your shots.
Using a three touch system to control the power of your swing, there’s no need for fiddly nub pushing only to see your ball hit a tree, this control method means that anyone can play well. There are several courses and difficulties to play through and each is very well designed. The appeal of Let’s Golf is how simple it is to play, long shots can be played beautifully and fill you with pride and those tricky putts, once mastered, are incredibly satisfying. The only difficulty you’ll have with this game is putting it down.