Reviews & Articles

ReviewSilent Hill: Shattered Memories

February 4, 2010
Psychphan's pick for 2009's best use of ice
by: Psychphan available on: Nintendo Wii, PlayStation Portable, PlayStation 2
I would not call myself a die-hard Silent Hill fan. I didn’t play the original and fall in love with it, nor did I pick up (borrow) a copy of Silent Hill 2 until my senior year of college. I really enjoyed the time I spent with it due to the surreal nature of the game and the mysterious symbolism that could (and continues) to take years to unravel. Is James’ story real? Or is it a drunken-induced hallucination? Or is he dead? Any answer is completely valid as the game gives you clues to support those thoughts. So let me present to you Silent Hill: Shattered Memories for the Nintendo Wii.

ReviewShin Megami Tensei: Persona

January 28, 2010
A remixed old-school story
by: Psychphan available on: PlayStation Portable
When I was 12, I was not playing games most of the other kids were playing. The Nintendo 64 was not a great system for me; I found most of the games to be mediocre at best — with two exceptions. I still happily played games that were released on the Super Nintendo, and I occasionally broke out my old Sega Genesis. At that time, Atlus released its cult classic and spinoff of the Shin Megami Tensei series: Revelations: Persona. I have no idea if it is any good because I bought the original PlayStation system about two years after the release, and by that time, the game faded into obscurity. Thanks to the recent popularity of the latest two Persona games, Atlus decided to resurrect the series’ beginnings. Welcome to the world of Shin Megami Tensei: Persona. Is this 13-year-old game worth your time?

ReviewSilent Hill: Origins

December 21, 2009
Prequel looks at history of town
by: Pashford available on: PlayStation 2, PlayStation Portable
I’m pretty sure survival horror was disemboweled a long time ago in a back alley by Resident Evil 4 and left to bleed out and die. Resident Evil 4 made a horrendous mistake, though: No one ever stays dead. Hollywood set forth this golden rule of mortality, and it also happens to be an unforgettable virtue within the gaming verse, as remnants of the survival horror genre still lurk about. Silent Hill holds itself steady, prepared to remind you why brutally gutting entire genres is bad business ethic.

ReviewHalf-Minute Hero

November 30, 2009
A pixelated love letter to RPG fans
by: Psychphan available on: PlayStation Portable
Role-playing games have always been a love affair of mine. Perhaps it is because I play multiple roles over the course of my day: athlete, teacher, student, son, brother, bill payer, humorist, writer, gamer, demon hunter. Of course, it is very draining to play multiple roles at once, especially those roles that are not naturally a part of one’s personality. Now there is a quick love letter on the PSP for RPG lovers. This game is called Half-Minute Hero.

ReviewObscure: The Aftermath

November 13, 2009
Portable terror
by: Rinjo available on: PlayStation Portable, PlayStation 2

Four years ago, a group of seniors at Leafmore High School came across a laboratory where horrific experiments were taking place. They fought their way through hordes of faceless creatures and saved themselves from befalling such a horrible fate.

Two years later, having survived the horror of Leafmore High, the students are trying to lead normal lives. Shannon and Kenny are enrolled in Fallcreek University, where Obscure: The Aftermath begins.

ReviewPangya: Fantasy Golf

November 10, 2009
Fly like an eagle, drown like a cannonball
by: Psychphan available on: PlayStation Portable
I am not a sports fan. Period. Start talking about the Stealers, Bills, Otters or whatever sports team you like, and my eyes start to glaze over. No, I am not talking about the yummy glazed donuts that you can find at your favorite bakery. I am talking about complete and utter disinterest. If I wanted to play football or soccer, I would be playing it, not watching it. This is why I get a kick out of power walking: It is something I can do, the scenery changes and I have earned a few medals over this past year from races. Thus, with great anxiety, I encountered Pangya: Fantasy Golf for the PSP. It is one of the better alternative sports game, but at the same time, it has one of the highest learning curves.

ReviewDisgaea 2: Dark Hero Days

October 28, 2009
Hilarious, whimsical, brutal
by: Psychphan available on: PlayStation Portable
It seems to me that strategy games these days focus on die-hard thinking strategy. While there is nothing wrong with the thinking function, what about the feeling part? What if I want to play through the game using a particular type of units? Or balanced party of ranged, close and air units? Or even a generalist party? What if I want to take the time to build up my units and then strike a strong blow at the main storyline? How I play and the strategies I develop are just as important as having the proper tools for the situation. I should be able to solve problems MY WAY. Or the game should at least encourage me to be flexible in my thinking. I have recently been playing a strategy role-playing game that lets you build your party however you would like. This game is Disgaea 2: Dark Hero Days.

ReviewGurumin: A Monstrous Adventure

October 4, 2009
Save the monsters, save the world
by: Psychphan available on: PlayStation Portable
For awhile now, I have been trying to think of a creative way to tie together everything in Gurumin: A Monstrous Adventure. Alas, my mind draws a blank. Simply put, Gurumin: A Monstrous Adventure is a hidden gem hiding in plain sight.

ReviewStar Wars: The Force Unleashed

September 29, 2009
Despite departing from canon, it's an awesome game
by: dain120475 available on: Xbox 360, Nintendo DS, PlayStation Portable, PlayStation 3, Nintendo Wii, PlayStation 2
I had been looking forward to playing Star Wars: The Force Unleashed with some relish, and after sitting down and popping it in my Xbox 360, I was pleased with many aspects of the game yet also disappointed with some minor details that I think could have easily been fixed or altered. But overall, I enjoyed it.

ReviewSteambot Chronicles: Battle Tournament

September 21, 2009
Steampunk robots kick metal butt
by: Psychphan available on: PlayStation Portable
Steam punk is a very interesting genre. It allows for different time periods and ideas to mix and merge to create an intriguing world. Usually, the Victorian time period is a favorite. Why? I am not really certain. I think it has to do with the juxtaposition of freedom and repression to create a fascinating world. Entering into this steam punk tradition is a PSP game that most people should check out: Steambot Chronicles: Battle Tournament.

ReviewFinal Fantasy II

September 20, 2009
A medley of good and bad ideas
by: Psychphan available on: PlayStation Portable, PlayStation
I admit I love the Final Fantasy series. I believe it’s because I grew up on the series. It was one of the first role-playing games made for consoles. It has started trends and refined gameplay for the genre. In other words, it has set the standards for what many gamers consider to be “good” RPGs. But not every game in the series is perfect. I will be the first one to admit that. One of those games is Final Fantasy II.

ReviewHoly Invasion of Privacy Badman! What Did I Do to Deserve This?

September 11, 2009
Justice gets a swift change of pants and direction
by: Psychphan available on: PlayStation Portable
Strategy games, as of late, have found a nice niche in portable gaming. And gamers have access to decent and intriguing games to play on the go. And if something is frustrating, you can just set it aside for awhile and return to it when you’re ready. Here’s a solid addition into the strategy genre and the second longest title I’ve seen this year: Holy Invasion of Privacy Badman! What Did I Do to Deserve This?

PreviewG.I. Joe: The Rise of the Cobra

August 5, 2009
Now you know. And knowing's half the battle.
by: monolysis @ E3 available on: Xbox 360, Nintendo DS, PlayStation Portable, PlayStation 3, PC, Nintendo Wii, PlayStation 2
One of the games I got to see and play at E3 was the Xbox 360 version of EA’s G.I. Joe: The Rise of the Cobra, which was released Aug. 4. The game was inspired by the live-action film based on the classic cartoon, but the game takes place after the events of the movie. Whatever the case, the G.I. Joe franchise is sure to make the game appealing to those who grew up with the cartoon from the mid-1980s and will hopefully attract a new generation.

ReviewSpider-Man: Web of Shadows

July 26, 2009
Another chance for Spidey to save the day
by: Psychphan available on: Nintendo DS, PlayStation 3, PlayStation Portable, Xbox 360, PC, Nintendo Wii, PlayStation 2
I am not a comic book person. However, I do remember having a brief infatuation with comic heroes who made their way to video games. The Captain America beat ’em-up on the Sega Genesis was not a bad way to spend a weekend back in the early 1990s. The only other superhero game I thought looked neat was the Spider-Man game for the Genesis. It was only years later on the Sega Channel. (Yes, I did play this precursor to GameTap for several months, and there were several games I would not have been able to play without it.) It was then that I discovered the Spider-Man game was not as neat as I had originally thought. Spider-Man: Web of Shadows for the Nintendo DS is my latest Spider-Man gaming experience.

ReviewClass of Heroes

July 9, 2009
Sign up for the dungeon crawl of a lifetime!
by: Psychphan available on: PlayStation Portable
I have no qualms admitting that I like the Harry Potter novels. Who can blame me? It’s not so much the “modern high fantasy” setting as it is the school setting. There are tons of people who dream about a school like that. This goes beyond the adventures of the three protagonists. What would happen if you were given a scholarship to a place like Hogwarts? What would you do if you were given the opportunity to train as an adventurer? Well, Atlus lets all of us with an imagination indulge in that fantasy with Class of Heroes.

ReviewMLB 2K9

July 2, 2009
Take me out to the ball game ... no, take my nephew instead
by: Alladania available on: Nintendo Wii, PC, PlayStation Portable, Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, PlayStation 2
You haven’t really seen my name linked to a sports title before. There’s a very good reason for that. I don’t watch sports (OK — I watch the Olympic, gymnastics and figure skating), and I don’t play traditional sports. I do enjoy Wii Fit and Wii Sports, but that’s about as far as it goes. I chose to review Major League Baseball 2K9 because my daughter likes playing baseball (sometimes) and my nephew (I’ll call him “C”) loves baseball. For the record, both kids are 9.

PreviewPuzzle Chronicles

June 9, 2009
Battling puzzles for a better world
by: Philogeon @ E3 available on: Nintendo DS, Xbox Live Arcade, PlayStation Portable, WiiWare, PlayStation Store

Joining the growing ranks of role-playing puzzle games, Konami’s Puzzle Chronicles looks like it will be a good fit for anyone who was a fan of Puzzle Quest or other puzzle RPGs. The demo version I saw was on the Nintendo DS, though it should also ship for PSP and be downloadable for Xbox Live Arcade, PlayStation Network and WiiWare.

First LookKonami at E3

June 3, 2009
SAW: The Video Game and Silent Hill: Shattered Memories
by: brubinow @ E3 available on: Xbox 360, PlayStation Portable, PC, Nintendo Wii

Just like the monster in a horror movie, the Saw franchise refuses to die. To coincide with the release of the sixth film of the franchise on Halloween, Konami will release a Saw survival horror video game. A playable demo was available at E3, and I got to put my proverbial skull in the steel head trap.

ReviewMana Khemia: Student Alliance

May 31, 2009
Last year’s textbook ...
by: Psychphan available on: PlayStation Portable

Traditionally, console games ported or even originally created for a portable system is not a good thing. For whatever reason, things created to be portable usually were downsized versions of their intended visions. For example, Yoshi’s Cookies has a pretty decent puzzle edge to it, but it quickly becomes repetitive; the Gameboy version of Tetris is higher up on the quality chart, but do you really want to look at gray cubes when you can look at them in color on a variety of different platforms? ...

PreviewCrimson Gem Saga

May 28, 2009
A Portable Gem
by: Psychphan available on: PlayStation Portable

For some odd reason as of late, I have been thinking about the game company Working Designs. I really do not know what has spurred this sense of nostalgia. I keep thinking about some of the company’s games. Do you remember the Lunar games? Yeah, they were great. It wasn’t just the solid role-playing gameplay, but it was the fact that the game was PERFECTLY translated for Western gamers. Jokes abound, and the voice acting was awesome. It helped make a decent RPG feel even more special — much like Crimson Gem Saga, which is a wonderfully solid RPG for the PSP but could fit any platform.

ReviewPrinny: Can I Really Be The Hero?

May 18, 2009
You can do it dood!
by: Psychphan available on: PlayStation Portable
If I am noticing things correctly — a colossal challenge for me — there seems to be a recent trend toward the hardcore, such as Dark Spire, Etrian Odyssey and Castlevania and, a few years ago, Ultimate Ghost and Ghouls. The latter seems to be influencing games the most. The Ghost and Ghouls series is some of the toughest games ever made — regardless of the game's system. It is something that needs to be experienced; there is this overwhelming sense of pandemonium as monsters suddenly appear and ...

ReviewLocoRoco 2

May 9, 2009
Stop, drop and roll!
by: Philogeon available on: PlayStation Portable
Do you ever see something new and not really understand it? That's the way I felt when I first picked up LocoRoco 2 for the PSP. While the game is highly addictive and quickly drew me in to the gameplay, I'm still not sure I really understand it. Maybe I am just too old? Like the first LocoRoco, the object is to tilt the world so that your little blob guy (a LocoRoco) is lead through maze like levels. While the basic plot of the game unlocks as you beat the maze and boss levels, there are also...

EventNamcoBandai's Editor's Day

April 30, 2009
Cooking, cheerleading, extreme sports, munching and revenge
by: Sylvene available on: PlayStation 3, Xbox 360, PlayStation Portable, Xbox Live Arcade, PlayStation Store, Nintendo Wii
Namco Bandai's Editors Day was held in sunny but still chilly San Francisco on this sunny Spring afternoon. I partook of a few pieces of Hors D'oeuvre and found myself a drink and a seat before the presentation began. Todd Thorson, Director of Marketing, took the stage to tell us that their expectations for Soulcaliber IV in 2008 far exceeded their expectations for number of copies sold, as did their entrants into the more casual Wii gaming market: We Cheer, Wii Active Life ( played with game mat and Wiimote), as well as We Ski.

ReviewSilent Hill: Origins

March 27, 2009
Welcome to the origins of Purgatory
by: Psychphan available on: PlayStation 2, PlayStation Portable
I confess I have not played every Silent Hill game in the series. But this is not to say I did not have a good time. The second game in the series, Silent Hill 2, was one of the first horror games I've played. Even though I liked it, it was rather hard for me to identify with James: I am not married, and I am a bit younger than him. So the idea of me chasing after a dead spouse, as of this writing, is hard for me to identify with the character. And then I played Silent Hill 3, a game of horror masterpiece.

ReviewWRC: FIA World Rally Championship

February 23, 2009
by: AberMike available on: PlayStation Portable

WRC: FIA World Rally Championship games haven't made much of a splash in North America, where the sport is less popular and Travis Pastrana is its only genuinely well-known competitor, but they're big news in Europe. MotorStorm developer Evolution Studios cut its teeth on the first four WRC titles that provided an accurate rendition of the rallying world and a stupendously fun racing title.

ReviewTom Clancy's EndWar

February 12, 2009
by: Severian available on: PlayStation Portable

EndWar is a turn-based strategy game set in 2016 during an escalating conflict between Europe, Russia and America. By playing each of these powers in turn, it is possible to have three completely different sets of scenarios. But don’t let the subject or the Tom Clancy moniker fool you. This is not a game for the hardcore war gamer. It is strictly a casual game, and it is very simple and playable. In spite of its lack of depth or a realistic plot, I was mesmerized by the game for several hours of an international flight when I should have been sleeping!

ReviewNeverLand Card Battles

January 14, 2009
Amateurs study tactics professionals study logistics
by: Philogeon available on: PlayStation Portable

Listening to NPR recently, I was reminded of an old saying regarding the ways of war: “Amateurs study tactics; professionals study logistics.” This phrase stayed with me while I was playing NeverLand Card Battles. The game itself is a blend of a collectable card games such as Pokemon or Magic the Gathering and a tactical role-playing game such as Final Fantasy Tactics.

EventAll About Prinny!

December 15, 2008
NIS America Prinny Event '08
by: Baldwin available on: PlayStation Portable, PlayStation 2

NIS America held Prinny Event '08 in San Francisco to showcase its latest games being released in early 2009. While a life-sized Prinny walked about capturing the attention of all the journalists, I dutifully sat amidst the pandemonium, ignoring all the distractions — the biggest of which was an open bar — to play the latest titles from NIS America.

ReviewMetal Gear Solid: Portable Ops Plus

December 10, 2008
by: Severian available on: PlayStation Portable

Metal Gear Solid: Portable Ops Plus is quite a mouthful, isn’t it? Let’s just go with MPO+ instead. MPO+ is a first-person shooter set in the mercenary underworld of South America in the early 1970s. This isn’t just another run-and-gun shooter; the missions are stealthy, and a violent run-in with a couple of bad hombres at once can be permanently discouraging. In fact, stealth is such a major factor that you have a constant gauge monitoring the sound you’re making as well as the sounds of nearby enemies, and an additional icon shows up (a chameleon!) when you’re hidden from view.

ReviewPipe Mania

November 18, 2008
by: Sylvene available on: PlayStation Portable, PlayStation 2

Pipe Mania is a remake of Empire Imperative’s title Pipe Dream, published in 1989 — with more game modes, more themes and a story to go through. The goal is simple. Lay a network of pipes to direct the flow of sewage ... er ... flooze, an amalgamation of fluid and ooze, from the source to the drain. Master plumber Alfonso Senior, is retired now and living like a fat cat on his private island, the Isle of Ducts. Life should be hunky-dory, but no ... cowboy plumbers are on the loose, and the baddest of them all, Buffalo Bonzo is wreaking havoc on the island’s plumbing. It is up to Alfonso’s children Junior and Fawcett to end these shenanigans and put the plumbing back in order. Thus, your journey begins.