Now that I've been exploring the Sony PlayStation Portable library for the first time and have spent some quality time with a stack of fun games, I figured I'd share my thoughts on the matter with these quickie mini-reviews. Get comfy, because we're jumping right into the one game that had me pawing for a PSP for over a year now. READY?
Take everything great about the original Mega Man for the Nintendo Entertainment System, create all new levels based on the original stages, add two new Robot Masters to the original roster, and pack in tons of fan service to create the best Mega Man game in ages. Fantastic quality 2D gaming is becoming harder to find these days, but by sticking to the original Mega Man formula, Capcom has put together an attractive package for long-time fans of the character (such as myself). You could play through the game as just Mega Man, sure, but the best part of the game comes from playing as each of the eight Robot Masters. That's right; Cut Man, Guts Man, Elec Man, Ice Man, Fire Man, Bomb Man, Oil Man, and Time Man are all fully playable characters, each becoming the hero of their own adventure. Roll and Proto Man even put in playable appearances. Each level comes in Easy, Normal, and Hard difficulties, meaning that to fully complete the game one must play through each stage three times (once for each challenge level) for each of the eleven playable characters. Yes, I think there's replay value here (and that's without even mentioning the recreation of the original NES game, the hundred level challenge mode, and the construction mode where players can create their own levels and trade them online). I cannot recommend Mega Man: Powered Up enough. It's everything I hoped it would be and more.
I was rolled up into the Katamari Damacy craze late, as it wasn't until last year that I played the original game for the Sony PlayStation 2. I still have to get my hands on the PS2 sequel, but I have taken a roll through this PSP version. Everything I enjoyed from Damacy seems to be here: varied environments in which to roll up things (the premise this time involves collecting objects with which to build islands after the King Of All Cosmos floods the Earth while taking a swim in the ocean), quirky background music (much of it from Damacy, albeit remixed), and the frustrating control method that takes a while to learn. I expected the game to use the control nub, but instead it tries to emulate the PS2's dual control sticks in that the control pad and action buttons are used to roll the katamari. Once I realized I should just mash/lean on the buttons as if they were sticks, things became much more fun. Like Damacy, however, it's quite short. I rolled through the whole game in just a week, and while I'm encouraged by the King to play again and increase my scores, after rolling up entire mountains and jungles it's hard to go back to collecting coins and candies. Recommended, but expect the experience to go by quickly.
I took a run through Street Fighter Alpha 3 just last year as part of the Street Fighter Alpha Anthology for the PS2, so I felt I knew what to expect from this PSP version of the game. Imagine my surprise when I found that MAX offers so much more than the home version. Aside from the traditional Arcade mode there's the World Tour mode, an offering that sort of kind of brings the fun and frustration of leveling up a la RPGs to a fighting game. Armed with Ken as my fighter, I'm in the process of working my way through the mode, earning experience points after each fight and using them to increase Ken's stats and stamina. Then I can turn around and use my powered-up Ken in any of the other modes, meaning that with enough work I may finally be able to kick M. Bison's butt all the way back to Shadoloo without breaking a sweat. There's a bunch of other modes I haven't explored much yet, such as a one hundred level fight-after-fight challenge, dramatic battles, and other such things, but World Tour and Arcade are occupying my fighting time right now. Highly recommended for Street Fighter fans.
We end with the same franchise with which we began in this update of the original Mega Man X from the Super NES era. X has received a full 3D polygonal makeover just like his classic Powered Up cousin, but aside from new voice work and rearranged upgrade capsule locations, not much has changed. The Maverick levels are the same as previously seen, although the Sigma fortress stages are new. The biggest addition to the original game is the ability to play as the duplicitous Vile, he of the giant battle mech. His attacks and abilities differ greatly from X's skills and it takes a few upgrades before he's capable of dishing out the heavy damage. Playing as Vile requires one to rethink the best path through the game, as I found I had to change my familiar tactics in order to get anywhere with the renegade robot. The novelty wore off after I'd finished off the Mavericks, but it was fun while it lasted. Rounding out the package is an animated mini-movie that acts of somewhat of a prequel to the game in which Sigma betrays the Maverick Hunters and starts the long war. Recommended, but over all too quickly.
Up next in my UMD stack: Spider-Man 2, Daxter, Midnight Club 3: DUB Edition, and Ratchet and Clank: Size Matters.