It’s been a while since we’ve had a look at some of the PSP’s Minis, mainly because of the PSN crisis and recently a lot of them looked like complete pump. There hasn’t exactly been a deluge of titles since PSN resumed normal service either. Two of the three games we’re looking at today come free with PlayStation Plus, which some gamers might still have as a part of their Welcome Back package.
Just look at that name. That’s f**king awesome. Man, I wanted this to be awesome. After almost chewing the skin off my knuckles on more than one occasion, I’ll have to settle for ‘pretty good.’
Ninjamurai is a 2D side-scrolling platformer, with a few beat em’ up elements too. The swordplay is a little on the weak side as attacks never feel solid and lack in variety. The throwing knives feel more deadly. Most of the game’s challenge comes from its old school approach to platforming.
You can double-jump and leap off walls at 45 degree angles, and it all moves at a frightening pace, and as you can change direction mid-air with the slightest touch of the d-pad, you’ll have to be really careful when landing on the smaller platforms. It doesn’t help that the camera struggles to keep up with your darting movements, meaning you’ll often be trying to land on a platform that you have no way of seeing until it’s too late.
Fans of an old-school challenge will get a lot of fun out of it and relish the stages like the left-to-right retreat away from a dragon. Touch it and die, but most lives are lost by trying to get ahead and hitting the far right of the slowly moving screen and slumping down the side like an egg on a wall.
The 2D Adventures of Rotating Octopus Character
£1.74 (or free for PS+ members)
From one of the best names ever, to whatever the hell you’d call that mess above. Octopus is neat take on the Pac Man format by having your character stick to the surface of the mild mazes while permanently moving. A tap of Square will change direction and X will allow you to jump to the opposite surface.
The aim is to collect all the icons before time runs out, while avoiding the enemies that will force you to restart the stage with just the one touch. Collecting silver balls on your travels will eventually reward you with extra lives.
It takes no time at all to get into and you’ll blast through the first few stages with no problems at all. But then the difficulty suddenly spikes and before you know it, you’ve lost eight lives over two stages and are staring at a Game Over screen, followed by the harsh realisation you have to start all over again. But you will restart and you’ll enjoy kicking its ass next time around. Or the time after maybe.
Babel: The King of The Blocks
£2.49 (or free for PS+ members)
This is a collection of infuriating block puzzle games. Temple matches ask you to build a tower with the set number of blocks you're given. You drop them in from above from while moving across a bridge. You must use all of them and not lose any down the gaps or allow the tower to reach the top of the screen. You don't get to choose the block order either. The Pyramid matches are similar but you have to drop the blocks on a set of balanced scales, making each side even so it doesn't tip off the blocks. It becomes rock hard by the fifth stage.
Another variation on tower building drops the blocks in automatically with the aim being to make a tower as high as the checkpoint. You're vaguely able to adjust where they land, but in a swinging motion rather than the Tetris-like d-pad taps the other modes wisely support. Sound rubbish? That's because it is. A two player variation throws two blocks down at once, with one playing pressing left and right and the other using the circle and square buttons to move them. The Pyramid and Temple matches work best, but they become ridiculously difficult too soon and more importantly, it’s just not interesting to play.