25 excellent PSP games at a bargain price (part 4 of 5)

Thumb - Image 1People say the third time’s a charm, but what do they say about the fourth? Hopefully it’s something good, because part four of our 25 bargain video game titles for your PlayStation Portable takes some interesting games from the East and West. Better yet, they’re offered at a price point with as big a discount as the depth of your soon-to-be-floored jaw. But do these deserve some play time with you on Sony‘s portable console? Find out at the full story.

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We’re back with part four of noteworthy PSP games offered at half the price, and the flavors today are a mixture of East and West. A quick peek into a couple of game catalogs filled our candidates list with plenty of hopefuls, but we knew that we had to diversify the list a little bit more.

So we selected a fighting game that was an easy favorite for many, plus a platformer that oozed all the right remake moves from its original creator.

Couple these two with two honorable mentions from Sony‘s Greatest Hits collection and a multiple Best Game awardee, and we’ve got the next five candidates vying for your pocket change and some game time on your handheld console.

Crush from Zoe Mode, Sega for Sony PlayStation Portable - Image 1 

Crush (available at US$ 19.99)

Crush – sounds like some icy cool, beach beverage doesn’t it? While it may not be bottled, Zoe Mode‘s ambitious project was an able thirst quencher back when a certain lull after Taito‘s Exit began settling in.

Of course, the lack of a decent number of puzzle platformers leveled the lull to a plateau of nerve-wracking boredom, even while a stream of action platformers slowly, but steadily, rolled in.

Thankfully, Kuju Entertainment‘s developer studio decided to break the mould and come out with something that completely stood out there. Aided with a daring will, they created a brain-twisting experience never rendered in likeness before. And they came up with Crush.

Now Crush‘s initial concept was relatively simple: the player would guide a protagonist through a world representative of his own troubling conundrums. It’s a task that’s reinforced by the game’s intriguing storyline: an insomniac named Danny is exploring retrogressive psychiatric therapy, while trying to avoid the usual treatment channels.

Crush screenshots - not the prettiest names, but definitely an interesting concept - Image 1 Crush screenshots - not the prettiest names, but definitely an interesting concept - Image 2 Crush screenshots - not the prettiest names, but definitely an interesting concept - Image 3 

So it comes to pass that a headgear aptly named C.R.U.S.H. (which is short for Cognitive Regression Utilizing pSychiatric Heuristics) becomes a key instrument to curing Danny’s sleepless nights.

But it’s not going to do the brunt of the work for him, so Danny will have to navigate a Escher-esque world built by his thoughts and swap 2D and 3D perspectives to sort out his troubled thoughts.

Telling tales of switching dimensional perspectives on command was sure to catch gamers’ attentions, and it wasn’t long before critical speculation loomed over this core game concept – one that was sounding way too familiar with another high profile game for the Nintendo Wii.

Those bickerings aside, Crush opened new doors in exploring the avenues of perspectives and puzzle thoughts – as well soliciting a humorous angle or two while immersed in the entire experience. The end result wasn’t flawless, but it was certainly close to perfection.

Soon enough, the PlayStation Portable had a new puzzle-platform contender under its arsenal, and by the end of 2007, it was a multiple award-winning one at that, too.

Buy: [ Crush ]

Darkstalkers Chronicles: The Chaos Tower from Capcom for Sony PlayStation Portable - Image 1 

Darkstalkers Chronicles: The Chaos Tower (available at US$ 16.79)

Darkstalkers Chronicles: The Chaos Tower was Capcom’s latest offering in the other fighting game vein they created: Darkstalkers (Vampire in Japan). It was prepped as a launch title for Sony’s handheld and soon bolted to the list of recommended fighting games on the PSP.

The Chaos Tower was technically a port of Vampire Chronicle for Matching Service offered on the Sega Dreamcast. It sported what the Dreamcast version had: all the characters of the previous installments, all the normal and special moves, all the previous soundtracks, and even all the story endings.

Sounds like they’ve crammed way too much into one game, doesn’t it? And given that the games in the series steered players into different avenues of style and play, the blend doesn’t look as promising in speculation as it would in theory.

So here’s where the catch kicks in: like Vampire Savior (being the partial source of inspiration for VC for Matching Service), The Chaos Tower allowed players to choose the style of play they were best accustomed to.

Darkstalkers Chronicles: The Chaos Tower screenshots - the other fight series Capcom is father to - Image 1 Darkstalkers Chronicles: The Chaos Tower screenshots - the other fight series Capcom is father to - Image 2 Darkstalkers Chronicles: The Chaos Tower screenshots - the other fight series Capcom is father to - Image 3

If you chose one style of play, the game tendered the appropriate content according to the style you’ve selected. Of course, some of the fan-centric content, such as high-fidelity character art and the several endings, only became available once unlocked.

And even if you weren’t a fan of Darkstalkers, or fighting games in general, Darkstalkers Chronicles: The Chaos Tower will allow you to play at the game’s usual pace using an newbie-friendly “Easy” mode.

The Easy mode simplifies the use of the PSP’s controls as a substitute for the regular controls on the arcade versions. And that’s great, since it’s a better way of coursing through the levels to get used to the game and its many sly tricks.

Eventually however, you’ll need to crank up your skills a notch to battle a human opponent via ad-hoc multiplayer. Just don’t get confused over the advertised “infrastructure” feature – Darkstalkers Chronicles: The Chaos Tower only offers multiplayer over wireless local network and not over wireless Internet.

Buy: [ Darkstalkers Chronicles: The Chaos Tower ]

Mega Man Maverick Hunter X from Taito, Capcom for Sony PlayStation Portable - Image 1 

Mega Man Maverick Hunter X (available at US$ 15.79)

Mega Man Maverick Hunter X, Taito’s attempt at modernizing the original Mega Man X for the Super Nintendo Entertainment System, first joined the collective of game remakes when it debuted a few years ago.

But as soon as Capcom shipped it to shelves for Sony’s PSP on January 2006, Maverick Hunter X proved its worth to stand within an exclusive circle of the grandest game remakes.

And why wouldn’t it? It was a delectable dish served with the platforming goodness that made the SNES version one of the best. And better yet, it was garnished with welcome technological improvements, a refinement of the original’s plot and background, and enough additional content to whet any Mega Man fan’s appetite.

What’s even more is that the action platformer allowed players to absorb the reworked plot through the eyes of Vile, branching the perspectives of the original game somewhat.

Mega Man Maverick Hunter X screenshots - an remake worthy of Mega Man awesomeness - Image 1 Mega Man Maverick Hunter X screenshots - an remake worthy of Mega Man awesomeness - Image 2 Mega Man Maverick Hunter X screenshots - an remake worthy of Mega Man awesomeness - Image 3

But then Taito altered a lot of things that would’ve been considered canonical in Mega Man X, and thus no one could say that it wasn’t a faithful reproduction of the original SNES title with a technological makeover.

Instead, Maverick Hunter X became a modernization of one of the greatest Mega Man video game titles in history.

And for many fans, Taito’s remake formula didn’t compromise fun or the basic gameplay concepts that made the franchise a legacy, thereby allowing them to relive the old experience in finer (or maybe even the finest) polish.

All in all, it didn’t break ground or redefine gaming experiences, but one could argue that it was an example of how remakes should be planned and published. Thanks to Capcom publishing efforts, at least Mega Man X‘s legacy continues in the best spirits with Mega Man Maverick Hunter X even today.

Buy: [ Mega Man Maverick Hunter X ]

Killzone Liberation from Guerrilla Games, SCE for Sony PlayStation Portable - Image 1 

Killzone Liberation
(available at US$ 19.99)

What was dubbed to be the successor to the PS2’s first-person shooter also became one of the greatest titles to ever get published for the PlayStation Portable.

So it’s no surprise that Killzone Liberation bagged a hefty share of awards, furthered the popularity of a then-young shooter series, and broke the trend of so-so titles steamrolling over Sony’s handheld.

And even while it didn’t take on the original’s first-person shooter angle, what Killzone Liberation did have to offer in turn served as reminders on how one can properly re-spin a franchise for portable gaming.

And rightfully so, because the decision to assume a top-down, isometric perspective, roll out third-person action, and dab it with tactical elements was welcomed by the gaming populace. And the game managed to weave all that into hectic gameplay populated with almost non-stop firefights.

In Liberation, players once again fill the shoes of Jan Templar and partake in the ISA’s struggles against the relentless Helghast forces. The game kicks off approximately two months after the ISA dealt a crippling blow to the invaders on Vekta, and as you might’ve guessed, the war isn’t over yet.

Killzone Liberation screenshots - an FPS wrapped deliciously around squad tactics - Image 1 Killzone Liberation screenshots - an FPS wrapped deliciously around squad tactics - Image 2 Killzone Liberation screenshots - an FPS wrapped deliciously around squad tactics - Image 3 

A Helghast counter-attack is swiftly organized, and within a short time span, high-profile personnel within the ISA are kidnapped and held captive deep within enemy-occupied territory.

Templar is tasked with infiltrating enemy lines and beyond to rescue the VIPs held captive, and along with him come a few of the ISA’s finest – if not the most numerous of men. Given the dire situation they’re in, the ISA has to divert most manpower to frontline conflicts.

So Templar and his buddies have to rely on their arsenal, their training, and tactical maneuvers to ensure the mission doesn’t run aground fast. Along the way, however, Templar’s given a chance to make the trip a memorable (and very painful) one to the Helghasts.

So unlike most infiltrations which require absolute stealth, players are welcome to also ensure maximum carnage and destruction in their wake while reaching their objective. No need for hush hush here – just bring your boom booms and bang bangs.

Add to the game’s basic facets some impressive graphics and AI, a workable and seamless tactical orders interface, multiplayer modes that even include Capture the Flag and Assault types, an inclination to favor strategy over brawn, an additional and free chapter, and you’ve got more than enough reasons to make Killzone Liberation a must-buy for the next 20 Washingtons you can spare.

Buy: [ Killzone Liberation ]

Grand Theft Auto: Liberty City Stories from Rockstar Games, Take-Two Interactive for Sony PlayStation Portable - Image 1 

Grand Theft Auto: Liberty City Stories (available at US$ 18.99)

GTA life on the PSP culminated to a collection of classics, many of which were taken from the more recent titles prefacing Grand Theft Auto IV. That, however, didn’t stop many of the games from being objects of sheer fun and nostalgia – and in ways that don’t get old as fast as some would think.

One of those games happened to be Grand Theft Auto: Liberty City Stories. Though this title was quickly succeeded by another version in the later years of its shelf life, Liberty City Stories was arguably considered the best of the two.

Maybe it was because GTA 4 was around the corner, and the anticipated, open-world, action sandbox title was bring gaming crowds back into the cityscapes of the fictional Liberty City. Or maybe it was because the last major title in the series, Grand Theft Auto 3, was set in also in the virtual Big Apple.

Either way, Liberty City Stories managed to stand out on its own, plopping fans and would-be fans into a prequel of sorts to GTA 3 – a good three years before an ambitious femme fatale serves up a mean backstab and a cold serving of lead.

Grand Theft Auto: Liberty City Stories screenshots - Liberty City in the palm of your hand - Image 1 Grand Theft Auto: Liberty City Stories screenshots - Liberty City in the palm of your hand - Image 2 Grand Theft Auto: Liberty City Stories screenshots - Liberty City in the palm of your hand - Image 3 

It was a welcome addition to the GTA lore, and it deepened the background of the folk involved in previous Liberty City-staged titles. But beyond the fleshing out of mob bosses and voluptuous wives, LCS also delivered a feature that was once thought to remain exclusive to the PC and Xbox: custom soundtracks.

Sweetening the scenario further, Rockstar even added full multiplayer support with multiple modes via wireless ad-hoc and decided to keep all that as PSP-exclusive features. And they even managed to extract enough amount of juice from Sony’s portable hardware to ensure a better graphical look while keeping the gameplay free from hitches.

But that didn’t stop the PSP community to probe Rockstar’s video game for holes. Some years ago, it became the object of controversy: apparently folk managed to find ways to exploit Liberty City Stories‘ game save processes. Those exploits and LCS, in a way, became the door to running unsigned code on the PSP.

I guess you could chalk that up to how the action game’s popularity rose, but then netting the revenue of 8 million copies sold all across the world probably isn’t such a bad thing either. No wonder Sony bagged it for it’s exclusive Greatest Hits collection.

Buy: [ Grand Theft Auto: Liberty City Stories ]

Article was originally posted on May 8, 2008 at 1:05 p.m.

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