25 excellent PSP games at a bargain price (part 1 of 5)
Weaving our way through the nether of the Interwebs, we’ve compiled a list of about two dozen games for the PlayStation Portable that came, saw, and conquered the hearts of PSP gamers worldwide. The best part is, their price tags are near-irresistible. A Greek historian once said, “Nothing is cheap which is superfluous, for what one does not need, is dear at a penny.” Too bad ol’ Plutarch isn’t here to check these bargains for Sony‘s portable console, because he’d probably make an exception. Find out why after the jump.
Many games have come and passed for the PlayStation Portable, and at three years old, Sony‘s handheld console has seen its share of great video game titles and then some. If you’ve recently acquired your first unit, or are just a bit prudent when it comes to spending you might find this first entry in our series of five, more than just a little interesting.
We’ve spotted 25 gems you may have missed, forgotten about, or thought were too pricey at one time, luckily, most of them are available at half their regular price.
Shelling out 25 smackeroos is still a worrisome deed for some, so we’ve taken things a step further: we’ll peg the reasons why you should consider these nominees as worthy additions to your library.
Let’s start off with the first five, shall we?
Daxter (available at US$ 19.99)
Kicking off our first five bargain PSP games is a title revolving around one unforgettable ottsel/Precursor (read: half-otter, half weasel), which places Jak’s furry sidekick center stage in his own adventure. Daxter’s bug-spraying antics in his eponymous outing garnered praise from every corner, leading many to label it the most refined platformer experience on the PSP.
Daxter even managed to retrace the characteristics of the long-lost old school platformer genre, allowing it to shoot straight to the top of many must-play lists for the handheld console. Those lists include Sony’s own Greatest Hits series.
And we don’t digress from that opinion either. We’ve fallen for the colorful environments, fluid character movements, impressive soundtrack, admirable voice acting, and cunning level design while guiding the accidental, part-time Critter Ridder exterminator in his misadventures.
But Ready at Dawn had a lot more to offer with Daxter much like in Naughty Dog‘s creations, RAD snuck in many a pop-culture, pop-media parody bound to make particular people smile – if not tickle their funny bones altogether.
All the while, the Jak and Daxter spinoff still managed to pack a few memorable twists and turns to further complete the ‘verse and lore of the heroic duo to the appreciation of many of the series’ fans.
Those who’ve managed to scrounge up enough dough to grab the Daxter PSP Entertainment Pack would agree that the lizzie-like crawling, vehicle pilot sequences, and bug-spray boosting feats are well worth the twenty bucks you’re thinking of parting with.
And you’d do best to do so as soon as possible, because it’s not every day a speedy little sidekick gets to shine in the limelight and beam with as much critical success the same way his character brims with much personality.
Lumines (available at US$ 25.00)
Lumines – the one game that drove gamers to believe that the PSP’s graphical capabilities were more than capable of wowing crowds – was also the same puzzler that became a phenomenon in the PSP homebrew scene for possessing an easily exploited hole.
Of course, those were the later years of Q Entertainment‘s brain-twisting block game – three years well after it grabbed gamers by the nose and “stirrup-ed” their rears to squaring blocks day in and day out.
In the style reminiscent of 2002’s independently developed Hacker, Lumines carried three essential attention grabbers: rhythmic beats to keep you paced and in the mood; pulsing visual effects to wow the geek from across the street; and, lastly, stylistic themes (actually called skins – but we like to pretend to be a unique and special snowflake) to pull the previous feats together with effortless pizazz.
The music, while catchy in its own way, is actually integrated to the mechanics of Lumines. The “timeline” that sweeps the playing field does so in rhythmic timing to the music, much like a digital metronome would sweep a stylized music composition software if one existed.
Even the block’s rate of fall changes with each theme. And further down the line, the more themes you unlock, the more variety is added to each block matching experience.
And even when we’ve achieved all there is to achieve, we don’t know why we still keep finding ourselves grinding on a late Saturday night, biting our tongues, and smiling as the dividing line in Versus mode edges closer to the opposite side. We also catch ourselves sweating beads as that ever elusive record block count closes to just a few more cleared blocks away.
It’s addicting for puzzle gamers and non-puzzle gamers alike, and we’re confident that if there was any PSP game to accompany us on a deserted island, we wouldn’t go wrong with Lumines. It still packs the goods and delivers it well, and for a slice off the regular price, it’s a deal made for gamers seeking endless fun wrapped in a budget.
Burnout Legends (available at US$ 19.99)
The Burnout gaming experience was bound to crash on the PSP sooner or later, the same way a fully-laden log hauler with faulty supports was bound to bend a few fenders in a populated freeway… in a good way, that is.
Unknowingly, however, Criterion Games managed to fuse what made the past games in the series great and turned Burnout Legends for the PSP into a racer worthy of its namesake.
And who wouldn’t have picked up the PSP version of Burnout Legends? It strung up fast-paced gameplay, pieced together a balance between attractive visuals and seamless framerate, and blended out gameplay modes reminiscent of Burnout 3 into a concoction that – while not perfect – managed to fit so well on Sony’s handheld.
Adding 89 unlockable cars, an entire series of circuits to uncover, six main gameplay modes that include cop chases and one-on-one racing face-offs, a five-car collector’s set tied down to a multiplayer challenge mode, and music exclusive to the PSP version, and you’ve got more than enough reasons to pick up the game – and stat.
Now for many a speed demon, Burnout Legends is an absolute must-have. No argument there. Of course, not everyone out there is about cars, speed, freeways, and high-speed collisions. But if you’ve never tried any Burnout game before, you’ll probably never know.
Luckily, you’ve got 50% nipped off the top to bring the odds down half-way in you favor. Something in Burnout Legends is bound to get your hooked while trekking from city to city anyways, even if you play the defensive driver you are in real life.
Buy: [Burnout Legends]
Syphon Filter: Dark Mirror (available at US$ 19.99)
If there was anything Sony did right, it was how they managed to create a promising installment of long-favored Syphon Filter series on the PlayStation Portable. One so good enough that it just had to become part of Sony’s Greatest Hits collection.
Syphon Filter: Dark Mirror took brave steps into territory that Omega Strain didn’t tread on before, and the stealth-action title brought actual ragdoll physics, cover-based tactics, impressive enemy AI, goggle modes, and multiplayer modes – all on a portable system.
Add online multiplayer matches of up to 8 players, and fan-favored dreams of jugular-slashing, taser abuse, and completing levels all gung ho and without consequences is well complemented.
Of course, the only real issue is that the story might be a tad shorter than fans are used to. But if you take your time to retrace levels in stealth instead of the more favored run and gun tactics, it won’t be too short for a thrill-ride.
Still, many consider Sony Bend’s sequel to Omega Strain as the best action game for the PSP. To many Syphon Filter fans also seeking for sustenance from lore, however, Dark Mirror serves as the very same title where lethal Gabriel Logan finally gains some closure on his not-so-flawless past.
In the process, Dark Mirror‘s plot spins a new twist to the series which will pique the interest of even the most casual of players.
Got your attention, did we? We really didn’t have to, because when one’s got an opportunity to pick up 2006’s PSP Action Game of the Year for 20 Washingtons, one doesn’t even have time for second thoughts.
After all, if you’re not authorizing your own precision strike to acquire Syphon Filter: Dark Mirror at half price now, we can’t guarantee another opportunity like this would plop by. It’s now or never.
Buy: [Syphon Filter: Dark Mirror]
Puzzle Quest: Challenge of the Warlords (available at US$ 19.99)
There’s only one word to describe Infinite Interactive’s blend of casual puzzle gaming and adequately deep role-play: addictive. In two words? Highly addictive. If there’s any game that could rival Q Entertainment’s Lumines for filling our lazy days with tons of PSP crunch time, it’s Puzzle Quest: Challenge of the Warlords for the PSP.
And surprisingly so, because who would’ve thought that puzzles and role-play could go together. Certainly not us when we first picked up the game back in 2007. In the first few minutes of training up against level 1 fodder, we weren’t overly enthusiastic about matching up colored gems with more colored gems to take down our opponent.
But then again, we didn’t stop playing. In the next few hours, we found some inner delight in downing our first boss, fulfilling our first quest, and seeing our chosen avatar steadily grow in power. All by matching color sparklies. How could that be, you ask?
It’s as if we’ve been grinding to an MMO all along, but one that allowed us to sit back and think at our own pace. It essentially was turn-based role-play, the way the old classics like Sierra’s Betrayal at Krondor used to captivate us with.
Hours later, we learned that our Citadel could also improve to represent our growth of power, and with it, expand our influence to fiends and cities that wouldn’t bow to our will. Oh we fixed that, with proper planning and preparations. Oh yes, and in our own time, too – not theirs.
It’s been a year since, and we’re still flexing our Warlord muscles, either on PC or on console – but nothing really matches the portability that the PSP version offers. And it’s seemingly better AI gets us hooked in a matter of seconds; we dare not fall to these meek monstrosities while months of 4-of-a-kind strategies haven’t waned yet.
Now we know that D3 Publisher has a sequel in the works for the Puzzle Quest series, and it’s soon to release this year. Puzzle Quest: Challenge of the Warlords, however, is where the magic all started, and if you decide to pick this one up first, you won’t be disappointed.
Buy: [Puzzle Quest: Challenge of the Warlords]
This article was originally published on April 18, 2008 at 12:51 p.m.