Archive for the ‘PSP Reviews’ Category.

The 3rd Birthday – Staff Review

Long feared to be a dead series, the announcement of The 3rd Birthday caused no small amount of surprise and delight amongst fans of Parasite Eve. Unfortunately, the finished product cannot be said to have the same effect. Featuring an overcomplicated mess of a plot, suicidal AI, and an actively hateful interface, The 3rd Birthday has fundamental issues that really prevent it from being enjoyable. There are some good points, of course: the game is great at creating a sense of tension, has a huge amount of replay value, and it presents some unique ideas in gameplay. It’s unfortunate that these ideas are buried under the weight of the game’s less player-friendly elements, to the point where it becomes difficult to recommend The 3rd Birthday even to fans of the series. Continue reading ‘The 3rd Birthday – Staff Review’ »

Valkyria Chronicles 2 – Staff Review

Valkyria Chronicles 2 had at least four major hurdles to clear: deliver a second helping of the first game’s quirky strategy and action; adhere to the cartoony, yet charming and often beautiful aesthetics; tie it together with a strong narrative; and do it all with the PSP’s hardware. It doesn’t quite clear them all, as it is saddled with competing partial stories and lingering smaller issues from its predecessor. However, VC2 expands intelligently on existing mechanics and smoothly adapts the engine to the portable platform so much that it feels right at home. Continue reading ‘Valkyria Chronicles 2 – Staff Review’ »

Ys Seven – Staff Review

Ys is a series that gets far less attention than it deserves. There are many reasons for this, but the main one is that Americans have not really gotten to experience as many of the adventures of Adol the Red as their Japanese counterparts. There are also some people that are probably turned away simply by its title; it’s not exactly intuitive to pronounce it as ‘ease.’ Regardless, Nihon Falcom and XSeeD are determined to rectify the first issue by releasing more games stateside, hoping to give Americans more time with the top-down action RPG series. That’s where Ys Seven comes in, and as it takes the series in many new directions, there’s a lot to like. Continue reading ‘Ys Seven – Staff Review’ »

Final Fantasy IV: The Complete Collection — Staff Review

Final Fantasy is a series well known for its ports and remakes, but out of the series, one game stands above them all as one of the most frequently remade games of all time.  Final Fantasy IV has seen six iterations over the years appearing on the SNES, PlayStation, WonderSwan Color, GameBoy Advance, the Nintendo DS, and finally the PSP as Final Fantasy IV: The Complete Collection.  Along with an updated Final Fantasy IV, players will also get Final Fantasy IV: The After Years and a new mini-story titled Final Fantasy IV: Interlude which helps slightly to tie the two main games together.  It’s a lot of game in a very small package, so the question becomes is there still life in Final Fantasy IV? Continue reading ‘Final Fantasy IV: The Complete Collection — Staff Review’ »

Dissidia 012[duodecim] Final Fantasy – Staff Review #2

A veritable sea of callbacks and references, Dissidia 012[duodecim] Final Fantasy is about what is expected from a massive crossover game. Whether this is a good thing or not depends a great deal on what your personal feelings are towards the Final Fantasy series, but thankfully, the underlying mechanics are solid enough that even those who find the constant self-reference tiresome should find something to enjoy. Dissidia Duodecim is a game with a steep learning curve, omnipresent loading times, and a rather disjointed plot, but it also presents a wonderfully deep combat system and a pool of content so huge that it borders on the absurd. But given how heavily the game relies on its combat system, how much a player will enjoy Dissidia Duodecim depends a lot on how eager they are for a fast paced battle. Continue reading ‘Dissidia 012[duodecim] Final Fantasy – Staff Review #2’ »

Tactics Ogre: Let Us Cling Together – Staff Review

An exceptionally influential tactical RPG, Tactics Ogre: Let Us Cling Together is responsible for a large number of the more common elements found in the genre today. As the original printing has been more or less relegated to the status of collector’s item, the PSP remake of Let Us Cling Together is an excellent opportunity for fans of the genre to enjoy this seminal title. There have been a great deal of changes made to the game, and although the core mechanics remain basically unchanged, it has been heavily rebalanced, with new systems and ideas added in order to make it a bit more forgiving. The end result is that Let Us Cling Together is a more than worthwhile play, though the hugely complicated nature of the game, along with some lingering balance issues, makes it difficult to recommend without reservation. Continue reading ‘Tactics Ogre: Let Us Cling Together – Staff Review’ »

Dissidia 012 Final Fantasy – Staff Review

Dissidia: Final Fantasy was a game that kind of took players by surprise.  On the one hand, it’s hard to believe that it took this long to make a fighting game out of Final Fantasy, and on the other hand, it’s hard to believe that you could honestly make it work.  The result was one of the best games on the PSP to date, so when a prequel was announced, it had some big shoes to fill.  Ultimately, Dissidia 012 is a fantastic, yet oddly named game that needs to be in your library. Continue reading ‘Dissidia 012 Final Fantasy – Staff Review’ »

Kingdom Hearts: Birth by Sleep – Staff Review

If you had told me ten years ago that one of my most anticipated games of the year would be a Kingdom Hearts game, I’d say you were crazy.  This world is full of many ridiculous things, but a collaboration between Squaresoft and Disney?!  That was possibly the silliest thing I’d ever heard of.  And my wife wanted it.  After watching her play for a bit, I saw that the game had an intriguing story, and I quickly became immersed in the world of keyblades and Heartless.  Like so many other people, I was amazed at the complexity of the story, and I have eagerly waited for each subsequent game to mete out a little bit more of the lore that gets expanded upon with each new game.  Birth by Sleep takes us ten years before the original Kingdom Hearts, and it might just be the best game in the series yet. Continue reading ‘Kingdom Hearts: Birth by Sleep – Staff Review’ »

Cladun: This is an RPG – Staff Review

Cladun: This is an RPG is a game with very clear goals. An action RPG dungeon crawler with an old-school aesthetic, Cladun is designed to be played in short bursts, and very little else. The game’s largest issues arise from the inconsistent application of these old-school elements and a certain lack of a consistent overarching theme to the game. Though Cladun’s combat system is a fairly basic, some might say rigid affair, its sub-systems are surprisingly complex, a fact which does cause some problems in a game meant to be played in small servings. Overall, Cladun is a solid game, but it never quite reaches the point at which it transcends the conventions and cliches that the story makes fun of. Continue reading ‘Cladun: This is an RPG – Staff Review’ »

Persona 3 Portable – Staff Review

Following the port-heavy schedule for the PSP, Persona 3 Portable builds on what was already a great game, adding new features, more combat options, and a huge whack of new plot in the form of new Social Links. Unfortunately, not all the alterations really work, as there has been some excessive tinkering with the game’s balance, and the technical limitations of the handheld platform have resulted in an oversimplified interface that causes some serious issues with suspension of disbelief. The end result is a game which feels a bit overworked, but has the potential to provide an excellent experience. Continue reading ‘Persona 3 Portable – Staff Review’ »

Shin Megami Tensei: Persona – Staff Review

The early PSOne game Revelations: Persona is widely considered to be the victim of one of the biggest localization hack jobs of all time. Besides a lackluster translation filled with poorly conceived attempts at mythological nomenclature, the localization team saw fit to fiddle with the game’s balance, alter character art in order to make the cast appear more western, and even remove whole sections of the game for no readily apparent reason. And so when a PSP port-slash-remake was announced, there was a great sigh of relief in the Western Hemisphere. And, thankfully, Shin Megami Tensei: Persona does indeed improve vastly on the localization of the original game. Unfortunately, with a poorly executed plot, badly balanced combat system, and a mishmash of aesthetic elements, the game lying hidden underneath the piles of meddling heaped on Revelations: Persona isn’t exactly a diamond in the rough. Continue reading ‘Shin Megami Tensei: Persona – Staff Review’ »

Adventures to Go – Staff Review

When I accepted the review assignment for Adventures to Go, I expected that it would be an easy review that would fit well into my schedule. I could pick up the game, play through an order or two, and set it down for a while. No need to play for hours at a stretch, no deep storyline to follow, and minimal gameplay mechanics to learn.

Continue reading ‘Adventures to Go – Staff Review’ »

Disgaea 2: Dark Hero Days – Staff Review

Disgaea 2: Dark Hero Days continues the recent trend of PSP rereleases, retooling Disgaea 2 and dropping it onto Sony’s handheld with some new features. Although it adds some interesting new content, including an epilogue starring Axel, Dark Hero Days lacks some of the wit and energy that made Disgaea so much fun, at least in the plot department. It doesn’t make too many changes to the Disgaea combat system, and most, if not all, of the really new content introduced for this port is available only after completing the mainline quest, meaning this port will probably be a little dull for gamers who have already sucked the marrow out of the game’s PS2 iteration. Continue reading ‘Disgaea 2: Dark Hero Days – Staff Review’ »

Dissidia: Final Fantasy – Staff Review

When it was announced, Dissidia: Final Fantasy sounded like an interesting concept: a fighting game starring Final Fantasy characters.  At first glance, you might think it is the spiritual successor to Ehrgeiz. You’d be wrong. The only thing this game has in common with that PS1 brawler is the inclusion of Cloud and Sephiroth among the cast. Make no mistakes about it. This is an action RPG at its finest, and for fans that have dutifully played the first ten Final Fantasy games, it’s chock full of nostalgia and gameplay that will keep you coming back. Continue reading ‘Dissidia: Final Fantasy – Staff Review’ »

Star Ocean: Second Evolution – Staff Review

Nostalgia is powerful. It can help keep memories of games long gone, but also color those memories one way or another. Maybe that old game really was as good as you remember, or maybe when you pick it back up again it’s just not going to do it for you. With the PSP release of Star Ocean: Second Evolution, fans, foes, and newcomers alike will get the chance to test one of Tri-Ace’s older titles and see which way they really roll. Calling Second Evolution a remake is a bit of a stretch, but several convenience tweaks, quality voice acting, and a vastly improved script make it a far more accessible and enjoyable title than its Playstation predecessor. Continue reading ‘Star Ocean: Second Evolution – Staff Review’ »

Prinny: Can I Really Be the Hero – Staff Review

The gaming world is filled with unusual mascot characters. Nintendo has a rotund Italian plumber that eats mushrooms to gain power. Sega gave us an insanely fast hedgehog with a surly attitude and a flying two-tailed fox for a friend. However, none are quite so unique, offbeat, or downright strange as the Prinny: the knife wielding, peg-legged, exploding penguins that embody the souls of sinners punished to a lifetime of slavery. Also, they say “dood” a lot. In Prinny: Can I Really Be the Hero?, the seemingly weakest creatures in the Netherworld star in their own game. Continue reading ‘Prinny: Can I Really Be the Hero – Staff Review’ »

Star Ocean: First Departure – Staff Review

While trying to decide how best to open a review of Star Ocean: First Departure, I came to the painful realization that I couldn’t possibly do so without taking you back in time. Just wasn’t gong to happen. So generate 1.21 gigawatts, strap yourself in, and set your coordinates to Akihabara, July 19, 1996.

(insert Huey Lewis interlude and “Great Scott!” exclamation here)

Continue reading ‘Star Ocean: First Departure – Staff Review’ »

Wild ARMs XF – Staff Review

The Wild ARMs series has never been known for stellar quality, but the games — excluding the second installment, which left many fans with PTSD — are still the objects of affection for many RPG connoisseurs. Naturally, players have certain standards and tolerances when it comes to Wild ARMs games. They know they aren’t getting a perfectly polished game, just an above average one that gains appeal largely from nostalgic references.

So when a longtime fan recognizes that the newest Wild ARMs title isn’t up to the series’ standards, you know it’s bad.
Continue reading ‘Wild ARMs XF – Staff Review’ »

Crisis Core: Final Fantasy VII – Staff Review

Crisis Core: Final Fantasy VII, the latest game in the Compilation of Final Fantasy VII, is a game that will appeal mostly to fans of the series. Starring a character who appeared only in flashbacks and in passing mentions in the original game and detailing many events only alluded to in FFVII, Crisis Core relies a great deal on nostalgia, to the point where it’s actually re-telling parts of FFVII at times. Still, underneath it all, there is still an interesting, if not particularly challenging game with some unusual ideas about combat and storytelling. On the whole, Crisis Core is a solid, if somewhat predictable title that should provide some entertainment for people looking for a bit more background on the characters of Final Fantasy VII. Continue reading ‘Crisis Core: Final Fantasy VII – Staff Review’ »

Tales of Eternia – Staff Retroview

The Tales series has a long and venerable history of avoiding North America, much to the consternation of its fans. In fact, pretty much all of the regions outside of Japan tend to get left out of most things the series offers beyond the flagship titles. And so Tales of Eternia for the PSP is a bit of an odd bird. Despite the fact that we’ve seen the game on this side of the pond before on the PSOne, Namco saw fit to release this PSP port in Europe and Asia, but not North America. Thankfully, the PSP’s lack of regional lockouts means that denizens of the Western Hemisphere have access to the game as well. Overall, Tales of Eternia is a decent port and a solid game overall, although a lack of polish and original content prevent it from being a standout title. Continue reading ‘Tales of Eternia – Staff Retroview’ »