Yes, it's a Halloween post that has nothing to do with Halloween. Now take these PSP reviews and this small box of raisins and scoot. And don't even think of TP-ing the house, because I know your parents' phone number.
Ultimate Block Party
|The lead characters Kollon and Marinne fished|
their sidekicks out of a claw machine.
I imagine they have some ugly stories
about where that claw has been...
You'll want to keep playing too, because the frantic action is accented with a cast of abstractly drawn, cleverly designed characters and a soundtrack with tunes ranging from "pretty good" to "where have you been all my life?" The track that plays in the single player challenge is the best use of steel drums since Compile released Guru Guru Logic for the Game Boy Advance back in 2001. Throw in a versus mode that lets you mess with your opponent's playfield in all kinds of nasty ways, and you've got a top-shelf puzzle game that proudly stands apart from Lumines and its sequel.
|Omitted for the sake of your sanity:|
"Stop it!" "Waah!" "Stop it!" "Waah!" "Stop..."
Frankly, "doesn't amount to much" is a pretty good way to describe Puzzle Guzzle in general. Mindlessly spinning pieces provides some brief distraction, and will really annoy your roommate with the constant blipping noises streaming from your PSP, but there's not much else that can be said in the game's defense. Other puzzle games are better... yes, even ones without "Lumines" in the title.
|The Japanese are getting this in their version|
of the Playstation Classic. What are we
getting? Tom freaking Clancy. Bah!
Sometimes the risk pays off... Demon's Souls was a surprise hit, spawning numerous sequels and starting its own sub-genre of viciously hard action adventure games. Sometimes it goes exactly as Sony expected, and the game doesn't click with Americans. That was the case with Bombastic, which is likely why its PSP counterpart Xi Coliseum never came to the United States.
Xi Coliseum looks a lot like Bombastic, using the same cel-shaded graphics and rounded fonts. However, the gameplay hearkens back to the humble debut of the series, Devil Dice. Rossi the elf still rolls dice around the playfield by racing along their tops, but when several like-numbered dice touch, they don't explode... they just turn red and melt away, lessening the excitement and limiting the opportunity for score-boosting chain reactions.
Why Sony took a step back from the frenzied action of Bombastic is anyone's guess, but Xi Coliseum is still a strong entry in this series of addictive, if somewhat inscrutable, puzzle games. It's got a higher learning curve than Tetris, which is probably why it never caught on in America, but once you wrap your head around the play mechanics, you'll get why the Japanese love it.
Marvel Ultimate Alliance
|Presented by Shrinky-Dinks!|
Yes, the camera can be adjusted, but that just leads to more proof that Marvel Ultimate Alliance fits the PSP almost as well as The Incredible Hulk fits in one of Bruce Banner's shirts. The control for everything beyond running and punching is awkward, with the player forced to press combinations of the face and shoulder buttons to use super powers and switch between teammates. It works, but it's uncomfortably constrained. If Marvel Ultimate Alliance on consoles was a first-class experience, the PSP version of this thinly disguised dungeon crawler is more like being squeezed between passengers in coach.
Def Jam: The Takeover
|"C'mon baby, better make it hurt."|
And boy, do they.
So it's a bit of a surprise that I actually prefer this to Def Jam: Fight for New York. It dispenses with the storyline of the original and gets right to the business of fighting, and fighting dirty. The game doesn't cut corners here... you get all the fighting styles, all the outrageous moves, and of course all the pain of the console versions. You'll find yourself wincing a little when you send your opponent's head through a jukebox, or fling them into an oncoming subway train. The action seems a touch slower than it was on the Xbox, but I consider that a plus since the fights were overwhelming at their original speed.
Def Jam: The Takeover takes out some of the content from the console versions, but it kept what was most important. Namely, Xzibit sitting on his opponent's back, then punching him in the head and ass until the broken bastard has to be carried away on a stretcher.