noiseredux vs.

Posted on Mar 24th 2011 at 01:16:36 AM by (noiseredux)
Posted under PlayStation Portable, Shmups

If you've been following my blog for a while now, then it's no secret to you that I've become a pretty big fan of shmups. And when I'm collecting for a system, it becomes near impossible for me to pass any up at the right price. This means that constant trips to GameStop have resulted in some peculiar purchases. Y'know the old saying of judging books by their covers? I don't really buy into all that. I tend to know the sort of games that I enjoy. And I tend to believe that many game companies knew enough to market a lot of their games as such. If I see a shmup that has an anime witch with odd-colored hair and the screenshots boast bright pink or green bullets, then guess what? I'm probably gonna like it. But then there's a game like Platypus. I mean forget the cover -- just take a gander at that title: Platypus? Really?

Platypus is a horizontal shmup that seems to draw inspiration from the Cute-em-up sub-sub-genre. To put it bluntly -- everything is made out of clay. It's sort of like Gradius meets Clay Fighter. Your ship has several power-ups to its main gun, and no secondary weapons. One interesting feature is that rather than lose your power-up at a death, instead there's a count-down timer on each power-up you collect. So while you may find one power-up more useful than another, it's also in your interest to keep grabbing new ones so as to not be demoted down to your standard shot.

I'm not going to pretend that Platypus is some amazing hidden gem. It's not. It's basically a very so-so shmup. But it is at least unique in its presentation. And it boasts thirty levels, which means it will keep you busy for at least a bit. Perhaps more importantly, it's very cheap on the after-market. Basically you're getting into a just good shmup, but for the low premium why not? The visuals are at least interesting, which is at least saying something. The bit of searching I tried to do on the game's developer, Squashy Software seems to say that this is their only game so far (and it was released in 2006). I'd at least give them a chance to see what they do next considering their attempt at putting a unique visual spin on such a long-running genre.

Posted on Mar 3rd 2011 at 06:00:00 AM by (noiseredux)
Posted under PlayStation Portable

As anyone who's been following this blog may have noticed, I've been spending an awful lot of time with my PSP lately. And for good reason. In a sense it's become one of the few outlets for developers to release what you might call "new retro" games. It's home to such throwbacks as Half-Minute Hero, remakes like the recently released Tactics Ogre: Let Us Cling Together, and retro compilations like the upcoming Final Fantasy IV release that will be packaged along with the previously download-only The After Years. Perhaps the system strikes a perfect balance of being just powerful enough to pull off old school games with an updated style. Or perhaps many developers realize that the PSP is a console overlooked enough to use it as a medium for experimentation.

Whatever it is, it's still an exciting time to be a fan of the handheld. True it may be on its last legs in a sense. But there's a rather impressive list of games coming out this year -- most of which on UMD -- that says that it may still have a chance at sticking around for a while. And if enough of us continue to buy UMD's then perhaps that physical media won't die out. At least not as quickly as the media seems to assume.

On a recent trip to my local used stores looking for cheap UMD's I stumbled upon Gunpey. The name alone caught my eye. Could it really be? "Originally created by the late Gunpei Yokoi..." read the back of the box. Yes, this is a title making reference to Gunpei Yokoi himself -- the sadly deceased genius who invented the Game Boy. And without hesitation I snatched this game up. It seemed far too cosmic. Something I absolutely must own. If the PSP has taken its place in my travels as thee portable gaming device to keep my attention, then any game that has such a strong connection to the Game Boy deserves to be played by me.

After reading through the PSP game's manual, I could find no real answer as to how much Yokoi had to do with this game. So I was off to do some research. As it turns out Gunpey is actually a remake of a puzzler that Yokoi created for his original WonderSwan handheld. This of course was the portable console that he would create after leaving Nintendo, and it was a direct competition to the Game Boy that he had been responsible for creating. It, and its successor the WonderSwan Color would never leave Japan.

Basically Gunpey is a puzzle game in which you must take jagged pieces of angles arranged in blocks as part of a grid and connect them so that they reach from one side of the screen to the other. The result will look something like a graph before clearing.

Gunpey on the PSP is exactly what it should be -- an updated version of the original. It plays just like the original, but yet features vibrant colors and lush trance-like music. It offers some unlockable content, such as new music and backgrounds and of course keeps track of your high scores. But really the game is little more than the simple, but challenging puzzle game that Yokoi came up with over a decade ago. To be fair Gunpey is not a classic. It does not have the sort of addictive quality that games like Tetris are best known for. But it is elegantly simple. It is challenging. It is a work out for your mind and fingers at the same time. It is completely conducive to a portable setting. And with that in mind, it is a perfect tribute to its creator. And a welcome addition to the PSP's library.

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