View Full Version : PSP Emulation News & Lik Sang Mini Review Contest

July 19th, 2005, 01:36
Today the 19th July to the 31st July at 11:59pm GMT, we have a great contest for you, <a href="http://www.lik-sang.com/info.php?category=313&products_id=6764&lsaid=219793" target="_blank" >Lik Sang</a> have donated 5 of their <a href="http://www.lik-sang.com/info.php?category=313&products_id=6764&lsaid=219793" target="_blank" >E3 Access DVDs</a> to the 5 best Reviewers(1 per winner) of Sony PSP Commercial Games/Hardware, the 5 winners will be announced on the 1st August, heres some details about the prizes on offer:

<img src="http://image.lik-sang.com/images//170/e3-access-2005.jpg">

<BLOCKQUOTE>Product Features

Over 13 hours of footage from the 2005 Electronic Entertainment Expo (E3)

Exclusive game footage available only on this official DVD

200+ Game Previews

Cutting edge, fully interactive and integrated 3D menus

Licensed soundtrack from Digital:Newage

Scene Selections (Game Index)

Complete Press Conference coverage - including nextgen systems (PS3, Xbox 360 etc.)

Additional interviews with key industry figures

Officially santioned by E3 Expo; produced in cooperation with IGN GameSpy and ESA

Booth Babes Featurette

Behind the Scenes Featurette

Region free, runs on every DVD player including the PS2 & Xbox


E3 ACCESS 2005: The Future of Videogames 4-Disc set includes exclusive interviews with leading game developers, a myriad of game previews for titles that won't hit store shelves for months to come, behind the scenes footage of the annual Electronic Entertainment Expo (E3) in Los Angeles, full 5.1 Dolby Digital surround sound, an exclusive soundtrack from Digital:Newage and more!

E3 is the world's largest, most exciting and well attended gathering of the finest minds in the video game industry and E3 ACCESS 2005: The Future of Videogames 4-Disc set brings together a complete behind the scenes package of games, interviews and babes.

The DVD includes a Feature Presentation delivering:

200+ Game Previews
Footage from all the upcoming games - direct from the E3 floor to your screens! Not only do we show you promotional and 'cut scene' highlights, but we plug you into direct in-game footage for XBOX, PS2, PSP, Gamecube, GBA and PC! In addition our most popular feature is back and bigger than ever - extended play-by-play commentaries from developers and publishers as they play their own creations.

Booth Babes Featurette
We give you the royal tour of E3's hottest babes at the biggest and best booths! Each year the Booth Babes are a signature E3 attraction and this year we're bringing you more scantily-clothed product fondling and flirting than ever before!

Behind the Scenes Featurette
Come with us as we head to LA for E3 2005 and experience the biggest gaming event of the year. Our team always has a blast and our cameras are there to catch it all! Last year you saw us lost, late, lazy and stuffing our faces as we pounded the carpets of the Expo. This year expect an even bigger slice of the E3 action as we introduce a dedicated behind-the-scenes camera to the mix!

Complete Press Conference coverage
We're there as the Big Three - Sony, Nintendo and Microsoft - unveil their latest and greatest product offerings. Every year the Press Conferences are breathtaking events and for the first time we are bringing them to you complete and uncut. You won't miss a second of the action or a minute of the detail as the biggest names in gaming let the cats out of their respective bags. Expect footage of PS3 and Xbox 360!

Custom 3D interactive menus
E3 ACCESS 2005: The Future of Videogames features all-new 3D animated sequences and interactive menus, all created exclusively by our team of in-house animators. This year we have spent more than six months in full production mode developing the animations to make your E3 ACCESS experience truly unforgettable!

Over 13 hours of content on 4 DVDs
Each year we pack more and more content into our products and 2005 will be our biggest and best value offering yet. E3 ACCESS 2005: The Future of Videogames is the only officially sanctioned E3 DVD product with over 10 hours of original content spread over 4 DVD discs. Get ready to experience the Future of Videogames!

FanCam V2

See E3 through the eyes of a fan! Check out all the action from the show floor as E3insider.com's FanCam takes reality TV to the next level!

Exclusive after-hours tour of the E3 show floor!

Join Tal Blevins (Editorial Director, IGN Games) and Dave 'Fargo' Kosak (Executive Editor, GameSpy) as they give you the grand tour of the E3 show floor in an exclusive after-hours walk-through! See E3 as only few ever have as Tal & Dave are let loose to share their thoughts and most intimate feelings with you. Be guided through the deafening silence of a dormant E3 and relish in the awkward silence of yet another doomed pun! This will be a tour nobody can afford to miss!

Witness the frenzy that is the IGN GameSpy editorial 'War Room'

Delve deep into the sacred inner workings of the IGN GameSpy War Room as journalistic integrity is brashly wavered to bring you the latest scoop from the show floor. See them laugh, see them cry (mostly cry) as they spin the stories you long to read!

IGN GameSpy 'Games of Show'

Hear from your favorite IGN GameSpy editors as they give you the low-down on their picks of the show. Experience the frenzy of ground zero as they battle the crowds to bring you the very cream of the E3 crop.

The ONLY officially sanctioned E3 DVD set produced in co-operation with the Electronic Software Association (ESA), IGN, GameSpy and E3 Expo, E3 ACCESS 2004: The Future of Videogames 4-Disc set gives viewers a chance to share in the excitement of witnessing the future of games for the Gamecube, Playstation 2, PSP, XBOX, PC and Gameboy Advance. </BLOCKQUOTE>

Remember that entries must be written by you and not copied from other sites, you can enter as many reviews as you like but can only win one prize.

Start posting those reviews :)

Thanks to <a href="http://www.lik-sang.com/info.php?category=313&products_id=6764&lsaid=219793" target="_blank" >Lik Sang</a> for providing PSP Emulation News Visitors with a great chance to win some freebies. :)

Post reviews in this topic :)

July 19th, 2005, 02:54
Today the 19th July to the 31st July at 11:59pm GMT, we have a great contest for you, <a href="http://www.lik-sang.com/info.php?category=313&products_id=6764&lsaid=219793" target="_blank" >Lik Sang</a> have donated 5 of their <a href="http://www.lik-sang.com/info.php?category=313&products_id=6764&lsaid=219793" target="_blank" >E3 Access DVDs</a> to the 5 best Reviewers(1 per winner) of Sony PSP Commercial Games/Hardware, the 5 winners will be announced on the 1st August, heres some details about the prizes on offer:

<img src="http://image.lik-sang.com/images//170/e3-access-2005.jpg">

Remember that entries must be written by you and not copied from other sites, you can enter as many reviews as you like but can only win one prize.

Start posting those reviews :)

Thanks to <a href="http://www.lik-sang.com/info.php?category=313&products_id=6764&lsaid=219793" target="_blank" >Lik Sang</a> for providing PSP Emulation News Visitors with a great chance to win some freebies. :)

Post reviews in this topic :)

excuse me, wraggster

is there a url to post these reviews?

thanks :confused:

July 19th, 2005, 02:58
is this thread :)

July 20th, 2005, 11:41
Review for, Memory Stick Duos (In general)

Memory cards are always a welcome additions to any gaming system. The ability to save games, replays, and ect. on convenient "cards" has always been a stead-fast way to improve gaming experiences.With the PlayStation Portable, this is no differant.

The Memory Stick Duos, coming in various sizes from 32mb-2gb and above, are the key to the PSP's versatility and media capabilities. Sony's hand-held uses these memory sticks to hold not only game data, but movies, music, and other sorts of data.
The current problem with these memory sticks is that they cost large amounts of money compared to previous cards. Although a 128mb stick may set you back $20.00 or so, a 2gb or higher sticks may cost up to 200$. Many consumers are not willing to pay the price for these cards, rendering certain capabilities of the PSP useless.

Many of these cards are very useful, even those without much space. A 512mb stick is very versatile. Compared to the memory card that is shipped within the value pack, a 512mb stick is very powerful. The money that is needed to be forked out for these memory sticks is far too high for the average person to afford, but if you are willing to fork out the dough, then a Memory Stick Duo is one of the best additions to the PSP out there and possibly worth it in some occasions.


July 21st, 2005, 05:31
could I do a review of the PSP itself? Why don't you do a review Wraggster? I'm sure you could come up with something.


July 21st, 2005, 10:08
Ok, I'm just going to go for the whole PSP thing.

Review for, Playstation Portable(PSP)

Sony, the well known gaming company and Playstation's papa, has brought us quality gaming and media devices for ages. The first Playstation was a ground-breaking system that gave Sony their gaming edge. The Playstation 2 wasn't as ground-breaking, but generated millions upon millions of dollars. Now, Sony has stepped into the hand-held business with the Playstation Portable, or the PSP. Making this device was a huge risk for, not only Sony, but their customers. Although i'm sure Sony is happy with their device, they tagged on a hefty pricetag, $250 to protect their upkeep.

Now to the actual PSP.

The PSP is definitely a sexy device. Its highly reflective surface and screen give it a "breakable but not brittle" sense of feel. Grasping it in your hands alone kinda puts fear into your mind. Its buttons are very common, but the anolog nub can be a little annoying at time. Once you get the PSP started, you can see all of the many options that are built in. The sleep mode,for instance, is very handy when you fall asleep at 5:00 AM from playing it. The brightness settings are also a nice feature to have. Swiching from a dull (less-than normal) light, up to an extra bright mode, for when it is plugged into the wall. The wide screen justifies the word "magnificent" in clarity and beauty. The spread of your hands allows plenty of moveability when holding the PSP.

Once you pop in a game like Wipeout Pure, you automatically see the impressive 3d graphics at work, reaching that of the original Playstation and greater. The sound is clear and fresh through the built-in stereo system. Using the multi-media capabilities of the PSP, you can pop up your favorite tune or movie in no time at all. The music and movies play in crystal clear quality.

Once you experience the properties of this system and all of its capabilities, $250 doesn't seem like "that-much" anymore.


July 27th, 2005, 14:29
Game reviewers often argue over a pint - what are the criteria of a good game? What makes a classic? For me, the first hurdle has always been my desire to play a game.

Is it there or not.

With desire, I mean an obsessive compulsion, which transcends the need for sleep, food or other Maslowian necessities. Lumines, my first PSP game, is one the most desirable games of all time.

The underlying logic is simple. First, picture Tetris in your head. Now tweak the image: square blocks consisting of four pieces fall from the top of the screen into a much wider area than Tetris. Your goal is to combine at least four similarly coloured block pieces into a unicoloured square. Repeat.

Of course, subtleties start to creep in: the games rhytm is structured around music. A bar moves over the screen in the space of 16 beats and when it crosses completed squares, it deletes them. Before completed squares are deleted, you can try to create combos by creating even more unicoloured squares.

After a while, the logic becomes intuition. You start to follow the beat to know when the blocks are erased, while sound effects morph seamlessly to form a song. Here, think of other Tetsuya Mizuguchi games, such as Rez for Dreamcast/PS2.

The result is hypnotic experience that transcends a simple puzzle game. You fall into a state of complete immersion, where only you, the music and the blocks exist. It's hypnotic, it's addictive - and it's totally desirable.

Then game sessions start to stretch - first into tens of minutes, then reaching close to an hour. That's when it's time to take a break from the main mode and check out the other game modes, such as puzzles. Again Lumines finds another way to affect your life: while sitting at work you suddenly realize how to complete yet another level.

As all stories of overwhelming desire must end, mine too inevitably leads to my separation from Lumines. I gave the game away to a friend, when I finally realized the toll on my personal life it was taking. I'll miss it dearly - but I'll cherish the memories and hum the brilliant Mondo Grosso tunes in my head, remembering the nights that finally gave way to morning and battery failure.

July 27th, 2005, 16:37
Just thought I would post my review of THUG 2: Remix

Tony Hawk's Underground 2 Remix (PSP) Review

Throughout the review, the game will be referred to THUG 2 Remix in most occasions.


The Tony Hawk skateboarding games started out a hit on the N64 and Playstation 1 consoles. The games succeeded in bringing in many new players, skateboarders and non-skateboarders. The first Tony Hawk is known as the classic, the game that all skateboarding fans/video game fans go back to when they need a taste of the beginning. As the Tony Hawk series progressed, it became more and more involved. As the Tony Hawk series reached the Underground title, it became the most interactive skateboarding/sports game yet. As THUG 2 Remix shows its players, it is indeed another step in the gaming industry. This step is the creation of a 3-D, portable and interactive skateboarding game.

Gameplay (9/10)

In the new portable version of the famous Tony Hawk series, the player is greeted with gameplay beyond imagination. The gameplay in THUG 2 Remix involves: Story mode, classic mode, wifi multiplayer, goal creation and create a skater. All of these elements make THUG 2 worth to play. The story mode is engaging, and the classic mode is what it is, the classic gameplay of the Tony Hawk series. Within these two modes, you have three difficulty choices: easy, normal and sick. These choices add to the replay value of the game and the players style. The main "plus" for THUG 2 Remix is the extra levels. There are about 4 new levels that were not in the THUG 2 console game that add to its playability and excitement. The wifi multiplayer is most enjoyable, with many modes to choose from. The multiplayer is great for anyone who wants something to do while waiting at an airport or a restaurant. The controls of the game are simple and should not have any "classic" players confused. The controls take about an average of 15 minutes to get used to, and after that, it is smooth sailing. The analog stick is mainly used to walk your character around and you are unable to use it while on the skateboard to direct/move him/her. The only setback to the gameplay is the loading times. The time it takes to actually start playing a level is 3-5 minutes. The game is not for the impatient person, but once started, the load time between levels in not really a problem.

Story (6/10)

The story in Tony Hawk's Underground 2 Remix is more of a short story book than a full story book. The point is clear and simple, a competition between Bam and Tony (two skateboarding "legends"). You create your character and then participate in this competition of the two and are placed on 1 of the 2 teams to compete on each level. The story mode is not your classic RPG story, but it is a story. I gave it a 6/10 because it is a sports game, and sports games do not usually have story lines. Implanting a story into THUG 2 Remix makes it unique and different than other sports games alike.

Graphics (8/10)

The graphics engine in THUG 2 Remix really shows the PSP's power. The game does not seem to cut any parts off due to graphical restraints, and the game itself looks beautiful. The graphics on the game compare to the graphics of its fellow THUG games. Although it is not exactly like the PS2 version, it sure looks like PS2 quality. The only draw back to the graphics are the cut scenes. The cut scenes layering is done poorly and the realism of it is worse than the gameplay graphics.

Music/Sound (7/10)

The music/sound in THUG 2 Remix is Hip-hop, punk, and rock. The music is more classical than it is modern. Although it contains rock, this rock is old school rock, something enjoyed by the older generation. You do not hear the modern punk/rock as you would expect, but the music is still enjoyable. The sound quality is good, not great. The music/sound is extraordinary though on a handheld device, and thus gets a 7/10.

Replay Value (8/10)

The replay value on the THUG 2 Remix game is relatively high. With 3 difficulty modes to choose from and two different game styles (classic/story), the player is bound to pick the game up again and play it after they have beaten it. The game allows for the players to choose more freely as to what they want to do. You can go through story mode by just completing the necessary goals, or you can complete every goal and unlock more levels/characters. The replay value is high because of the reward based system, and is sure to have its players unlocking as much as they can.

Final Verdict/Recommendation

The game itself is truly remarkable to see on the PSP and the PSP is the perfect device to play this game on. THUG 2 Remix is a portable console title that adds levels and creates a new atmosphere for its gamers. With it's extra levels, character customization, two modes, and interactive gameplay, THUG 2 Remix the game to own. If you stopped playing after Tony Hawk's Pro Skater 3, then this game is for you if you wish to try it out.


July 28th, 2005, 22:02
Im not that good at writing but here's mine

Untold Legends; Brotherhood of the Blade

This is a very solid action RPG with an isometric view like in the Baldur's Gate: Dark Alliance games. The game doesn’t innovate much to the genre but it’s so well designed that is both fun to play and very addictive. The experience system works really good. There are a lot of different weapons and armor and upgrade choices/combinations that will make you want to get the best of the best. As you progress in the game there will be more options available for you depending on your experience level .

Graphically, the game is really eye candy it takes advantage of the technical capabilities of the system with an dazzling 3D environment. The textures and maps look very realistic. The atmosphere in the different levels was very nicely achieved.
The sound effects are excellent, you can hear an enemy approaching just by the sound of it’s footsteps. The music is not exactly my favorite ever but it fits well.

The game is massive with tons of enemies and levels. The interface is very friendly and intuitive. Upgrading your characters, weapons and armor is very easy. The missions are very clear and the game play is not linear. You can explore all you want and go into side quests to earn more experience and/or items (armor, weapons, etc).
One of the few complaints I have about this game is the loading time, some times you have to go back because you got into the wrong area and the wait is just a pain in the neck.
One of the really cool things about this game that is got support for up to four-person wireless cooperative multiplayer gameplay.

Untold Legends is a game you will probably want to play more than once. It has 4 different types of heroes: Knight, Berzerker, Druid and Alchemist; each of them with different abilities, armors and weapons.

Graphics: 8.5/10
Sound: 9/10
Fun Level: 8/10
Control: 9/10
Replay value: 8/10
Total Score: 8.5/10

July 31st, 2005, 14:01
Twisted Metal: Head On Review

Heads online, Tales you lose.

You could be forgiven for thinking that every second title in the PSP's launch line-up is an old Playstation franchise revisited, though as the new incarnations of Ridge Racer and WipEout have proven, that's not necessarily a bad thing.

The path of the Twisted Metal franchise has been a long and bumpy ride. Ten years ago, developers SingleTrac established the vehicular combat genre with the original hit Playstation game. SingleTrac's 1996 follow-up, Twisted Metal 2: World Tour, was also hugely successful and is still fondly remembered by many as the peak of the series. After TM2, Sony handed the rights to the franchise over to 989 Studios, who produced Twisted Metal 3 (1998) and Twisted Metal 4 (1999), both of which were disappointing affairs. The introduction of a more realistic physics engine (TM was never about realism) was one of many mistakes that detracted from the gameplay in 989's sequels. Luxoflux's rival franchise, Vigilante 8, rightfully took the vehicle combat crown from the crumbling TM series.

Meanwhile, SingleTrac produced another vehicular combat game called Rogue Trip (1998), that was as close to an unofficial Twisted Metal sequel as they could legally get. It was enough to prove they still had the winning gameplay formula up their sleeve. Much to the relief of TM fans, Sony gave the franchise back to the members of the original development team, who formed a new game studio called Incog Inc. (aka Incognito) as part of Sony Computer Entertainment's Santa Monica studio group. Incog reclaimed the throne and ushered the series into the next generation with Twisted Metal: Black (2001) on PS2. As the name implied, Black was a much darker take on the Twisted Metal universe, featuring tortured characters with disturbing storylines set in a gritty post-apocalyptic dystopia. The fact that all FMVs related to character plots were pulled from the PAL releases is indicative of just how gory and twisted Black was. Incog also released a final Twisted Metal game for the PSone in 2001 that went almost unnoticed. In sharp contrast to the decidedly adult Black, Twisted Metal: Small Brawl was a childish game based around kids with remote control cars. It went unnoticed for a reason: it was rubbish. 2002 saw the release of Twisted Metal: Black Online, a cutdown online-multiplayer-only version of Black that Sony offered as a free redemption game with US PS2 Network Adapters.

Are we there yet? Yes. That long and winding road brings us to Twisted Metal: Head On for PSP. The first thing that strikes you about Head On is that it is clearly not a sequel to Black. Head On's brightly coloured cel-shaded intro movie sets a distinctly different tone, setting the stage for a return to the quirkier, more comic feel of Twisted Metal 1 & 2. Indeed, Head On feels very much like a true sequel to (or contemporized version of) Twisted Metal 2: World Tour.

Once again, the mysterious Calypso organizes a tournament of vehicular destruction wreaking mayhem across the globe, promising to grant a single wish to the victor. All the usual vehicles and drivers return to fight their way through the arena battles and conquer the game's three boss stages. As well as Story mode, TM:HO provides Challenge and Endurance modes, as well as a swag of multiplayer modes and options.

The graphics, while not quite up to Black standards, do not disappoint, with detailed vehicles and environments and visually satisfying weapon effects. The game engine's draw distance is impressive, always allowing you to see the far side of the game's huge arenas, with only the faintest hints of texture switching and small detail pop-in. Aside from the first two stages (Stadium and LA) which are rather simple and sparse, the level design in the other stages (which include locations such as Paris, Egypt, Tokyo, Greece, Russia and Monaco) is excellent, with large interesting arenas peppered with hidden areas and plenty of destructible scenery. The frame rate is solid and the game cracks along at a frantic pace.

The game is easy to pick up and play, but like it's predecessors, features quite a bit of depth. Each vehicle has it's own special attack and machine guns, and there are loads of different weapon pick-ups throughout the stages, each of which also has a unique environmental attack. Through the use of directional and button combos, a wide variety of extra moves can be performed, such as rear fire, jumping, turbo, shield activation, cloaking, freezing, dropping mines, etc. The controls are very responsive, almost too responsive. The analog controls are so touchy that chances are you'll be swerving around madly unless you stick to the d-pad for steering. Even if you can get used to analog steering, you'll still find the overly sensitive analog control will lead to you regularly executing power moves accidentally. Exclusive use of the d-pad is recommended. By defeating opponents, players can pick up power-ups to upgrade their vehicles special attacks, guns, armor, turbos and such. The upgrades will carry over from one stage to the next, but are lost whenever your vehicle is destroyed.

Each stage in story mode contains an optional mini-game, which can be used to score a lot of easy weapon pick-ups, and should you perform well enough, you can unlock more hidden characters and deathmatch arenas too. These mini-games range from fun to frustrating, but provide a welcome diversion from the (ultimately repetitive) drive-and-shoot gameplay. The music for each stage is inoffensively generic and has been flavoured to suit each locale.

The AI displays a respectable amount of strategy at the Hard difficulty setting, and the bosses present a real challenge. I'd go so far as to say the last two bosses are cheap, but hey, this is essentially a tournament fighting game after all, so that's par for the course.

Despite the core elements all being intact, somehow Head On never really manages to be as satisfying or have the same impact that TM2: World Tour did. It's difficult to determine exactly which magic ingredient is missing. The formula is undoubtedly getting stale after a decade and may be more fun for the uninitiated than for veterans, but Story mode's lack of story is certainly one area in which Head On falls flat.

Whereas Black had three movie sequences for each character in Story mode (a beginning, middle and ending), the characters' storylines in Head On are virtually non-existent. Most people will miss the story altogether, as you actually have to press square on the character select screen to read a brief outline of their background and motivation. Once you're in the game, Story mode is identical for every character until their ending "movie". There's a short in-game intro cutscene from Calypso and a couple of even shorter boss intro cutscenes, but no real feeling of a story taking place at all. I used quotation marks around the word "movie" because it's more of a storyboard than a movie. In fact, I'd be willing to bet that these are in fact the storyboards of the ending movies that never got made. It's apparent from the impressive cel-shaded intro movie that 3D models of many of the characters had been built, and similar cel-shaded ending movies are what you'd expect to be rewarded with upon completion of the game. Instead you'll be subjected to a just barely animated hand-drawn storyboard of an ending sequence. The characters' lips don't even move when they speak. The weak characterization present in the uninteresting endings is really far too little and too late by then. Shabby Incog. Very shabby.

I expect the pressure to have Head On out for the US PSP launch had something to do with Story mode's obvious under-development, but whatever the reason, it really hurts the game. Without any kind of personality or story to hang onto, there's little motivation for players to complete Story mode with all 17 characters. Admittedly there are two branching points in Story mode, where you will have to choose one world location over another, but this still means that after playing through Story mode twice, you could potentially have seen pretty much everything it has to offer.

Fortunately, multiplayer is where the game really comes into its own. Head On supports wireless multiplayer in three forms: Ad Hoc, Infrastructure LAN and Infrastructure. This means you can play multiplayer with up to five other players by directly communicating with nearby PSPs, or with PSPs within range of one local wireless access point, or true wireless online with players across the globe. PSP has been lacking in true online titles, and Head On proves that it can be done very well.

Setting up or joining an online game is very straightforward and feels much like you'd expect from a home console. After accepting an online EULA, you pick a lobby room, see what games are on offer (or start your own), and you're up and playing in no time. It's been implemented exceptionally well. You can even chat in the lobby (a feature that was missing from PS2's Black Online), though PSP's mobile-phone keyboard interface is less than ideal for creative trash-talking. As well as the standard Deathmatch mode, there's Last Man Standing, Fox Hunt, and Collector modes (all available as individual or team-based versions), as well as 2 player co-operative Story mode.

There are a wide range of options for customizing the multiplayer modes, so there's plenty of scope for fresh match setups. As well as tweaking the settings for weapons, vehicles, health pick-ups and environments, the Power Relics from Twisted Metal: Black can be included to add an even broader range of special powers to multiplayer matches. If the host of a match quits, the game doesn't end; another player is automatically chosen as the new host. All the teething troubles reported with the TM servers when Head On was first released have been resolved. I've never dropped out or been kicked off, and I have always found games with minimal lag to join at any time of day or night. I have experienced occasional frame rate drops in online matches, but nothing significantly detrimental to the game experience.

Taking part in solid, good-looking, hectic six-player carnage with players across the globe on a handheld console is a pretty amazing experience. That's where Head On is head and shoulders above the pack right now. If you have a PSP, wireless internet access, and even the vaguest interest in the genre, then Twisted Metal: Head On is definitely worth checking out. Looked at solely as a single-player experience, it's good, but repeated play in Story mode soon becomes tedious.

Head On is neither a Rolls Royce nor a flaming wreck. With the latest Twisted Metal, Incog have rolled out a nice new model of a vehicle that we're already comfortable driving. Cruising round the same old streets may be starting to lose it's thrill, but taking this baby for a spin on the superhighway shows there's still some gas left in the tank.


July 31st, 2005, 14:02
Bleach - Heat the Soul Review

Bleach is PSP's first 3D fighting title.
Is it to dye for? Or just a whitewash?

Fighting games and handhelds traditionally don't mix. That's not to say they haven't been done, they just haven't been very successful in the past. Handhelds simply haven't had the power or screens to do the fighter genre justice, and the fact that handheld gaming hasn't been readily conducive to multi-player gaming hasn't helped either.

Of course, things are changing rapidly in the handheld scene, and genres once bound to the loungeroom, like racing, fighting and first-person shooters are starting to go walkabout. Sure, the GameBoy Advance tackled all of these, but let's not kid ourselves, none of the GBA renditions could hold a candle to their home console counterparts. Handheld gaming is only now emerging from the shadow of the home console, becoming a truly comparable portable experience, rather than a poor imitation. (Well, until the next-gen hits at least...)

Capcom's PSP launch title, Darkstalkers Chronicle: The Chaos Tower (aka Vampire Chronicle in Japan) was PSP's first fighting game. While it was a well executed distillation of Street Fighter's little-sister franchise, it failed to really excite the public. As a port of a decade-old 2D arcade fighter, it just didn't have mainstream appeal.

While the PSP community eagerly awaits the announcement of Tekken PSP (or something along those lines), SCE have jumped on a hotly contested game licence to bring the first 3D fighter to the PSP's screen. Bleach - Heat the Soul is the first game based on Tite Kubo's popular Bleach manga series. The Bleach manga is now being serialized in English in Shonen Jump magazine. (If you're interested you can read some online here.) To be more accurate, the Bleach game is actually based on the anime, which is based on the manga. More on that distinction later. Currently only available in Japan, the chances of a wider release for Bleach on PSP probably hinge on the anime's success in western markets.

Bleach is the story of Ichigo Kurasaki, a 15 year old japanese schoolboy with orange hair (presumably explaining the title) who can see ghosts. Thanks to an encounter with a mysterious girl named Rukia, Ichigo gains Shinigami (Death God) powers, and protects the innocent by fighting off corrupted souls called Hollows. Supernatural, comedic and romantic hijinks ensue.
Disclaimer: I freely confess I am not a Bleach fan. That's not to say I dislike it, I just haven't been exposed to enough of it to have any extensive knowledge or appreciation of it.

Considering this is the first attempt at a 3D fighter on PSP, Bleach certainly looks very impressive. The detailed screen-filling characters are all cel-shaded, making them visually consistent with the anime. The look is reminiscent of the Naruto games on Gamecube (or the recent DBZ games on PS2), though the outlining is perhaps not as solid. The environments are non-interactive rectangular 3D arenas that feature invisible, or otherwise improbable walls (you can't fight beyond those witch's hats!) and they sport a decent amount of background detail as well as some occasional fog and lighting effects. The dynamic camera and variety of physical, supernatural and weapon-based attacks ensure that the game stays eye-catching. On the whole, it's bright, good-looking and faithful to the look of the anime. This Bleach is colour-friendly.

The framerate isn't perfect, but it doesn't hamper play either. The intro sequence looks great, and apparently features some new animation not in the anime's intro. Story mode is fleshed out by mostly static anime cutscenes between stages, voiced by the original anime cast (all in japanese, with japanese subtitles). The music is surprisingly good, both in-game and during cutscenes.

No-one will confuse Bleach with a hardcore fighting game. It's unashamedly lightweight, featuring about 30 simple combos per character. Nothing tricky whatsoever. The button layout features two attack buttons, one jump button and a special button, plus the left trigger allows side-running dodges. Filling up the power gauge allows execution of a special move. Most characters have only one special move, and all but one have some kind of ranged attack. The mechanics are very accessible. Beginners will be chaining combos in no time, but fighting game veterans will be left wanting more depth. Match progression is based on a slight variation on the usual best-of-three rounds system. Combatants begin a match with two power bars. Losing one results in a "crush". The battle then continues, with the winner of the first bout still on their first power bar, retaining any remaining health left. Knock off both your opponent's power bars to "break-out" to the next stage.

Modes include Story mode, VS CPU, Survival, Time Attack and Soul Versus (the wireless Ad Hoc 2 player mode). Unfortunately, I haven't been able to try out multiplayer. Being able to fight human opponents wirelessly would certainly add a great deal to this game's appeal. Bleach also has an Appendix featuring unlockable extras, such as artwork galleries, music, sound and voice archives, and a theatre mode featuring TV commercials and the intro and end-credit movies. The unlockables are driven by the Appendix's card shop. Playing in the main modes earns points toward the purchase of cards (identical to the japanese Bleach collectible game cards) from the shop. Collecting more cards unlocks more extras, including one extra character, his story mode, and eventually a bonus Arkanoid-style mini-game that supports two players on one PSP.

Unfortunately Bleach suffers from a number of issues that prevent it from reaching its potential. First and foremost is the character roster. You start with five characters selectable. There's only one more to unlock. Six characters is not nearly enough. Given that the game is based on the anime (which is far behind the manga in terms of story progression), it could be argued that there simply weren't enough other developed characters in the anime to justify inclusion in the game. That's not really a believable excuse though, as there are glaring omissions, like characters in the intro sequence that aren't playable in the game. The characters included are all certainly distinctive, but the game mechanics don't offer enough depth to make the small roster feel sufficient. Each character has only the mandatory two outfits (1P&2P) and there's only half a dozen arenas in the game. Characters don't have ending movies, they only have a final cutscene and some voice-over on the credits. It smacks of being rushed onto the market. The basics are there, but more development time was needed to fill out the content.

Load times are also disappointing, with a 20 second load between stages. On a home console, a 20 second load feels long. On a handheld, it feels even longer. The game is import-friendly, with all the menus in English, but story mode's (skippable) japanese cutscenes will be lost on many. If you have no familiarity with the Bleach manga/anime, you'll have no idea what's going on.

If on the other hand you are a Bleach fan, you'll get a lot more out of this game than I did. Much like the first Naruto game which only featured a handful of characters, I'd say there's a strong likelihood that this game is paving the way for further Bleach games that will address the shortcomings of this one. PSP's first 3D fighter shows enormous promise for the future of the genre on handhelds, but lets the potential slip through its fingers.

Bleach may appear stainless on the surface, but it isn't long before it's dark roots start showing.


July 31st, 2005, 14:04
WipEout Pure Review

The original WipEout and it's follow-up, WipEout 2097 (aka WipEoutXL) were instrumental in establishing the public's perception of Sony's Playstation as a new breed of games console. The intoxicating blend of futuristic techno-industrial design, hypnotic visuals, incredible speed and killer soundtracks from the cream of the UK's early nineties electronica scene encapsulated the feel of the burgeoning electronic culture that the Sega generation had grown up into. WipEout was a real cultural landmark.

The WipEout franchise has certainly lost much of it's cultural significance over time, and it's widely acknowledged that the last outing, 2002's WipEout Fusion, did not live up to expectations. The fact that Sony didn't even bother to publish it in the US (it was eventually picked up by budget publisher Bam! Entertainment) seemed to signal the death of the series.

Nevertheless, here we are in 2005 and Sony are once again releasing a WipEout game alongside their new console. Fortunately for Sony, WipEout Pure on PSP marks a return to form. WipEout 2097 is popularly regarded as the peak of the series, and the fact that Pure is set in 2197 is significant of Studio Liverpool's desire to bring the game back to its roots. For the most part, they succeed.

Pure certainly looks the business. The intro, menu systems and in-game graphics are all beautifully polished and very reminiscent of the WipEout of old. The overall design takes a more stark stripped-back approach than that acheived by tDR (the Designer's Republic), and successfully plants the old WipEout look within a contemporary future style (if that makes any sense whatsoever).

The in-game graphics are beautiful, featuring lushly detailed craft and courses, liberally sprinkled with impressive lighting and particle effects. The environments can be truly breathtaking at times, such as the Sol 2 course that weaves through the sky high among the clouds. It's the best looking WipEout yet, but the beauty comes at a cost. In racing games based around outlandish speed, the framerate is everything. Sega and Nintendo's comparable uber-fast hover-racing game F-Zero GX springs to mind here. In my experience, it's framerate was always an absolutely rock-solid 60fps even when there were twenty other competitors on screen. Perhaps I've also been spoilt by Ridge Racer on PSP whose silky framerate never faltered. I'm sorry to say that WipEout Pure suffers in this regard, never seeming quite as fluid as Ridge. It's framerate can drop significantly when there's a lot of action on screen, and it's at those exact moments (like when you're flying through an explosion into a corner in between other craft) that you need every frame your eyes can soak up. It doesn't cripple the game by any means, but it's a disappointment nonetheless. WipEout Pure is being hailed as the best looking game on PSP so far, and I don't disagree, but I would have happily sacrificed some background poly-count for a locked 60fps framerate.

The all-important soundtrack line-up fits the bill. Artists include Tiësto, Freq Nasty, Aphex Twin, Röyksopp, and some returning WipEout veterans like Photek and Cold Storage. On the whole, the soundtrack stays true to the feel of the earlier WipEouts (particularly Photek's brilliant "C-Note"), but it just doesn't have the same resonance it once did. The BGM is exactly that - background music; lacking the pounding stand-out tracks that were the signature of the first two games.

Pure offers competitive racing in Single Races and Tournaments. The craft tuning options of Fusion are gone and the game is better for it. The AI is solid and the varied range of weaponry on offer is effective without feeling cheap. There are no more pit lanes. Instead, Pure now gives you the opportunity to either use or absorb any pick-ups to restore a little shield energy. This really improves the gameplay dynamic, so you never feel like you're trying to complete a lap by limping carefully back to the pit lane. The focus stays squarely on speed and rivalry.

I don't want to sound overly critical, but I have to say as a portable console game, Pure could have handled tournament progress better. Despite the fact that your profile is auto-saved at the conclusion of each race, if you shut down the PSP mid-tournament, your tournament progress is not saved. Namco's Ridge Racers on PSP handled this perfectly. I can't imagine why Studio Liverpool didn't take the time to implement the same system in Pure. There's always sleep mode of course, but using sleep mode to maintain tournament progress means you can't listen to MP3s or do anything else with your PSP until you complete the tournament.

Time Trial modes are also available of course, as well as the reworked version of Fusion's Zone mode. Zone mode is WipEout at it's purest. No competitors, no pick-ups, just you and the track going faster and faster until you explode. The zen-like Zone experience is made even purer by taking place on dedicated highly stylized tracks. The real-world scenery of the racing courses is cast aside in favour of ultra-slick minimalist futurism. Thankfully the framerate is much more solid in Zone, as there's much less going on.

In terms of unlockables, Pure is probably the deepest WipEout yet, with extra classes, courses and even a gallery of artwork to unlock, and Studio Liverpool are promising a variety of extra content over the coming months via the (now notorious) download function. If you didn't already have a reason to buy a bigger Memory Stick Duo, this is it. Extra courses are expected to eat up 8MBs of stick space each. Other impressive features include the ability to broadcast and share your records tables wirelessly, and the ability to choose skins to alter the look of the menu system. Despite the ground-breaking interent downloads, Pure's multiplayer is supported in "Ad Hoc" mode only (ie. local multiplayer, not true online).

WipEout Pure reveals it's true nature over time. Your first few races in Vector class will seem painfully slow, but it won't be long before you start cursing your mere mortal reflexes in Rapier class. Right now the gaming press is awash with reviews hailing WipEout Pure as the second coming, and in one sense, it is. Pure has given the WipEout franchise a second lease on life. It's an extremely good game that makes up for the failings of Fusion and delivers what fans of the series have been waiting for. Just try to keep your expectations in check. The new WipEout may be Pure, but it ain't perfect.


July 31st, 2005, 14:06
Mobile Train Simulator + Densha de GO! Tokyo Kyuukou Hen Review

Densha de Geek

Ever wanted to give up your day job and become a train driver? No, me neither, though the thought of getting paid to drive a vehicle that you don't even have to steer doesn't sound too bad. Add to that the ability to sound a mighty airhorn every so often and the slight possibility that you might derail or otherwise smash into something with an incredible amount of momentum and it all starts to seem more attractive.

Apparently the prospect of driving a train is a great deal more appealing to the people of Japan. No doubt this has something to do with their incredibly efficient rail system. Evidently train driving is popular enough in Japan to support its own genre of games, dominated by the long-running Densha de GO! (Let's go by train) series. There have been over twenty different variations of the Densha de GO! games in arcades and on consoles since the original 1997 title. (Like Friday the 13th Part IV: The Final Chapter, it appears that last year's Densha de GO!: Final was not as final as the title suggested.) Getting a train from one station to the next doesn't sound like a great basis for a game, but it's not quite as straightforward as it sounds.

What challenge could such a simplistic gameplay concept offer? Well, I'm glad I asked. There are really two parts to the Densha game mechanics: driving and stopping. Precision control of the throttle and brakes is what the whole game is about. Your ability to control the train is reflected in your score. You have four levels of throttle and seven levels of braking at your disposal, as well as the emergency brake and the ability to throw the train into neutral.

The challenge of driving is to make it to the next station on time while obeying the signals and staying within the speed limits on each section of the line. Sounds simple in theory, but the forces of changing track gradients, varying signals and the sheer momentum of tons of moving steel mean that you'll be constantly tweaking the controls to maintain the optimum speed required to stay on time. And then there's stopping.

Stopping is the real challenge. You're going to need to start breaking hundreds of metres before you even see the station, and then you'll need to smoothly slide in to stop the train dead on the mark. The precision of your stopping position is measured in centimetres. Pull up too late and you'll overshoot the platform. Pull up too early and the doors won't open. Mastering smooth accurate stopping takes a lot of practice. I don't know how many times I've started braking too late and had to resort to slamming on the emergency brake to try to salvage the stop. This inevitably leads to my passengers falling over and my train overshooting the platform anyway. Result: complaining passengers and loss of points.

As it's title suggests, this latest train game on PSP brings together Taito's Densha series and Sony's Train Simulator series in one package, and covers at least three complete lines from Tokyo's Kanto region. You can play in either series' game modes, though the differences appear to be are mostly cosmetic (the HUD is displayed differently). The Train Simulator mode also allows you to sit exams and unlock new lines.

At a glance you'd be forgiven for thinking that this game looks better than Gran Turismo 4. It looks absolutely realistic, because it's graphics are in fact real footage. The entire length of the train lines has been captured on video. The game speeds up and slows down the footage to reflect your speed. This works surprisingly well, rarely looking obvious or choppy. Where previous Densha games used 3D graphics, this game lets you take in the real scenery of Tokyo, and being able to watch the traffic on nearby roads, the live people on the platforms, or other trains passing by, adds enormously to the game's appeal. It looks fantastic on the PSP screen, though some of the subway (ie. underground) sections are admittedly less than awe-inspiring. Games based around live-action FMV are usually an absolute disaster. Not so in this case. This genre couldn't be more perfectly suited to it, and it's been implemented very well. It's all the more impressive to see it in action on a handheld console.

All the sounds of the Tokyo train system have been faithfully reproduced and there's plenty of speech in there too, including on-board announcements, complaining passengers, and tips from the anime conductor girl. You can sound the horns, though depending on the game mode, you may be penalized for improper usage. The game becomes increasingly difficult and throws in new elements (such as level crossings and trackside works) that you'll need to adapt to. While it's quite jap-heavy, it's still reasonably import-friendly to pick up and play. The database sections are full of technical detail on all the different trains and the intricacies of the signal system, though these are totally unintelligible to the non-jap fluent (like myself). Chances of an english language release are slim to nil.

So it looks great, sounds good, and the gameplay is actually challenging. There's just no getting around the fact that this game is extremely geeky. If you can handle that, then you might enjoy this opportunity to see the sights of Tokyo without flying over there. The ability to drive the 8:00am train to Shibuya while you commute to work on the other side of the planet has gotta be worth something.

I'd give this niche title a solid 8/10. It's not for everyone. Hell, it's not for the vast majority of people, but what it sets out to achieve, it delivers with flair. Only you can decide whether this unique PSP title is just your ticket or too off-the-rails. Could this be PSP's first sleeper hit?
(Sorry, couldn't resist.)

July 31st, 2005, 19:04
here's a review i prev. did for the game..

Hot Shots Golf: Open Tee
release date: 05/03/2005 USA
genre: sports/golf

Introduction: Hot Shots Golf has been around since the original PSone days. It is also known in different countries as different names. For example, in Japan its Minna No Golf and in the UK its Everybody's Golf. There have been several releases of Hots Shots Golf for the PS and PS2, today I'll be giving my review of the Clap Hanz's US Sony PSP version, Hot Shots Golf: Open Tee.

Cure your golf itch anytime, anywhere! Your Favorite golf game just got more addicting with new modes, tons of collectable items and more customizable outfis than you can shake a stick at. And forget foursomes - connect wirelessly with your buddies and start an eightsome! WHENEVER YOUR READY...... we're waiting with an OPEN TEE

General/Basic Game Info:
game system: Sony PSP
Rating: E (Everyone)
1-8 Players (wifi, ad hoc only!)
736kb of space on memory stick duo

the graphics are very nice. Very comparable to a PS2 version and probably better than the PSone version. The courses vary from a lush green hilltops and mountains to sandy egyptian courses. The characters have retained a more 'japanimation-ish' look.

very fitting for the game. Not too annoying, yet weirdly calming at times. The sound effects are what you would expect for a golf game. The caddy voices are nice when you do good, but can get on your nerves if your on a slump. ;)

The controls are very simple to use, just watch the meter go up and stop it at the desired power, then stop it on the way down to set the impact. Nothing too complicated here. However, mastering the Homing shot and Super topspin shots add a degree of difficulty.

One thing different in the PSP version is the new feature called Automatic Impact. This lets the computer choose the impact for you, sometimes you get a perfect shot, others you duff it. It will depend more on your impact stats/level. This is nice for beginners or if your just having some probs getting the timing.

Ah.. the most important thing for a game. Hot Shots Golf: OT offers several different game modes for single players or multiplayers. THe single player modes include: Stroke Play, Putting Challenge, Challenge Mode (this is where you can get all the cool items/players/secrets), and Practice Mode (lets you redo shots, just brush up on your game).

In Challenge Mode, you play against computer opponents in Tournaments or Match Plays. Match Plays are fun and can be super fast since the rule is the first person to 3UP wins. So win the first 3 holes and game over! Also don't forget about the putting challenge and just finishing the courses under par, since you can unlock more items by doing so and also increase your HSG Rank.

There are a total of 6 courses and 10 characters to get and over hundreds of items from a Log Driver to Robot Suit to Splinter Cell-ish outfit.

Also, by using a player more and more, you earn loyalty points. The more loyalty points the more Power Shots you can unluck and other cool shots like the Homing Shot or Super High Trajectory Shot, etc..

Multiplayer mode allows you to choose from either: Tournament, Match Play, or Putting Challenge. Again, you can only play wirelessly ADHOC not infrastructure (ie meaning you have to be within range of the player and cannot play over the internet, except those with xlink and the appropriate router...)

And finally, for those not so good right away, if you lose a few in a row, you will be given the "easy mode" option. basically this just makes the game a bit easier however you do not get penalized for it (meaning you still can get all of the same items as you would not in easy mode). VERY NICE for the beginner..

My Personal Opinions:

who would have guessed it, i got an opinion on this game.. :p

me, I LOVE THIS GAME! Its great because of all of the items you can obtain, the simple but addicting gameplay (you don't have to like golf to like playing it.. i know i am not a real life golf fan and can't stand it on tv)...

the controls are simple and easy to get used to. yet the different special shots you can earn and try make it still challenging..

i love all of the stats the game keeps.. plus you get graded on your best shots, scores, etc too! the best thing to unlock is the manual video record feature. with that, you can record any shot you want no matter if you eagled the hole or triple bogeyd.

the graphics fit the game's style/theme and still look impressive... i still am in awe over the graphics on the psp and the screen itself... amazing...


the mulitplayer aspect of the game should have been thought out more.

they should have incorporated a play and pass option rather than being only via Ad Hoc wifi.

And of course the wifi mode should have been Infrastructure like twisted metal, so that way we can play those other PSP users all over the country.. i know none of my friends have one yet.. :mad:

and carpal tunnel syndrome from playing it too much! :rolleyes:

besides that, i can't really find any faults....

To summarize, this is a great PSP game to get. You won't get bored with it after playing it a day. The characters and items you can unlock are fun. Its your classic hot shots golf in portable form minus the loss in graphics and sound.. the multiplayer options should have been rethought out a bit more but if you have friends with a psp and the game, its a blast. Golf On!

Rating: 9.5/10

video clips of some of my best shots:

283yd Double Eagle Chip-in (http://seamonkey420.tech-recipes.com/other/misc/video_clips/double_eagle_051405.wmv)

Homing Shot Clip (http://seamonkey420.tech-recipes.com/other/misc/video_clips/HSG_homing_shot.wmv)