Fistful of fun
James Fryer picks out a quartet of quality titles especially for the PlayStation portable.
Tekken Dark Resurrection
Twelve years on from this beat-em-up’s debut in smoky amusement arcades the world over and Tekken continues to have the kids queuing up for a go, only this time for a play on possibly the best handheld fighting game ever made. If you haven’t followed the development of the series, the basic premise is to pick from one of 30 carefully crafted characters – each with their own fighting style and special moves – including Dragunov, Lili and the classic fighter Armor King. Then the aim of the game is to beat your opponent into a bloody pulp before they return the favour. Graphics are deep, vivid and true to the game’s heritage, battle sounds make for an atmospheric experience and playability is up there with its great, great grandfather.
This PSP-exclusive release is a must for any collection, taking the conventional platform scroll along and adding the simple but effective twist of using the left and right shoulder buttons to tilt the LocoRoco world, rolling the adorable space hopper-style characters through an array of scenery. You’ll need to break up the genial giant yellow blob into smaller pieces and then mould them all together again in order to negotiate certain challenges, keeping them out of harm’s way as you go. The groovy graphics are so psychedelic they ooze rainbow coloured fun from the screen, but the best bit is the music. In between stages and at the end of each level, you can sit back and enjoy the cutest ever choir line who provide a mesmerising, hypnotic rendition of gobbledegook tunes that you’ll be humming for the rest of the day.
Ape Escape P
Building on an original game released on the PlayStation back in 1999, you play as Spike – a red haired mangastyle-munchkin – when the story begins with a visit to a professor’s house where monkeys, led by the evil Specter, are trying to nab his time machine. And thereafter everything becomes clear – they want it to change the course of history and put monkeys at the top of the food chain, so you end up travelling back in time to catch them all with the aid of your, er, butterfly net. The cat and mouse antics that follow are very cutsey-Japanese, rather weird and at times quite wonderful. You journey through levels starting off in the Jurassic era and those cheeky chimps will do a good job of keeping you hooked. The only drawback is the control system (the PS version utilised two analogue sticks) which makes negotiating distant lands a tad tricky.
It’s easy to imagine the team behind this title getting carried away with their own story: “Rightio then, this fluffy orange animal has lost his mate Jak. So he’s going to get a job as a pest controller and use a fly swat to kill metal bugs and bug spray will propel him though the air.” And while you might suppose a storyline this surreal would have tossed into the bin, we’re not the game developers. Branching off from the successful Jak and Daxter franchise, the levels are entertaining and often unpredictable, the enemy AI is good enough so you won’t bore easily and the controls intuitive from the outset. Voiceovers are of a movie standard and the graphics perfectly convert to the extra small screen.