E10+ - Everyone 10+


Recently, Sony Computer Entertainment of America announced that it was looking to go with a more abstract library of games for its PlayStation Network service, stuff that was original while, at the same time, appealing.  So far, it looks like the job is getting done, with Dyad in the works and Papo & Yo coming soon after that, among other games.  But one game that should certainly be included in the group is Closure, a stunning example of black-and-white design, perfectly recreated for the downloadable front.


For all those times we praise certain series for making changes, there are also those instances where we’re wondering why a developer made such changes in the first place.  As great as some of the previous Final Fantasy games have been, many have been hunkering for the classic days of SNES releases like Final Fantasy III and so forth, rather than the big-budgeted Final Fantasy XIII.  Namco, thankfully, hasn’t changed too much when it comes to its Tales franchise, and the latest entry in the series, Tales of Graces F, clearly shows that.  It’s old-school love like we seldom get anymore.


Even though Harry Potter mania has pretty much died down with the release of last year’s Deathly Hallows Part 2 film, it’s a “better late than never” situation when it comes to the release of Lego Harry Potter Years 5-7 on PlayStation Vita.  After all, the handheld didn’t have a Lego game to call its own before this came out, and it did pretty well when it came out for consoles last year.  So, yeah, this release makes sense.  And while it’s not as fully featured as we were expecting, it’s a decent port that fans of both the Lego franchise and the Harry Potter series will happily embrace.


When ModNation Racers came out for the PlayStation 3 in 2010, United Front Games had created a great new portal for community for the PlayStation Network, allowing racers to not only engage one another in races and share their track creations with others to see what they thought.  Its community grew just as huge as LittleBigPlanet’s, making the game an imminent success.  Seeing lightning in a bottle for its handheld front, Sony decided to release a ModNation Racers game for the PlayStation Vita, Road Trip, complete with a new touch-screen track building feature and plenty of racing action.  But for some strange reason, this one feels somewhat stuck in second.


You know, there was a Rayman legacy before he appeared in the stellar Origins last year.  For over the last decade or so, Ubisoft has produced a number of games featuring the limbless hero, starting on the PS One with an artful side-scrolling classic and continuing onward with the incredible Rayman 2: The Great Escape for Dreamcast and Nintendo 64.  Since that time, though, the sequels felt a little tacked on rather than feeling like in-depth tales, as you’ll see from Rayman 3: Hoodlum Havoc, which was recently given the digital HD treatment for Xbox Live and the PlayStation Network.


When you run out of ideas for a series, sometimes a fresh perspective is all that’s needed.  Look at Call of Duty.  For the longest time, it dwelled in past wars, and while fans thoroughly enjoyed it, the team vied for something different.  And they provided it with Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare, jettisoning the series to new heights of excitement.  Now, Evolution Studios’ latest game doesn’t go to such heights – and can’t even come close to last year’s crazy Apocalypse title – but MotorStorm RC provides an interesting new take for the series that both PS3 and Vita owners will enjoy.


When it comes to racing games on the PlayStation Vita, you have a lot to choose from, between the kart racing shenanigans in ModNation Racers, the futuristic action of Wipeout 2048 and the sim Formula 1 madness of F1 2011.  But it wouldn’t be a launch party without Ridge Racer, and Namco has managed to push another edition out the door in time to appease the PS Vita owning masses.  Now the question is, is it enough?


I know Pierre already has his thoughts posted on FIFA Street, but I felt compelled to follow up with a counterpoint.  After all, EA Sports’ arcade revival is a pretty big deal, especially in the face of FIFA Soccer 12, which is essentially a perfected version of the sport digitally, right down to the league options and style of play on the field.  FIFA Street is an opposite to that, relying on a more trick-laden fast-paced style where the yellow and red cards don’t apply, and it’s all about getting the ball in the goal.  That should be good enough, right?  So why isn’t it?


One of the features that Sony is vehemently trying to take advantage of with the PlayStation Vita is its augmented reality.  This is where you can take a real location and implement some sort of gaming into it, and while others may not get why you’re so excited, the experience in itself is an interesting one.  Sony’s already offering a number of free games that take advantage of this feature, as well as offering the full retail release of Reality Fighters, a brawling game where you can not only take locations and have a fight anywhere, but also create your own.  It’s a great idea, though one that’s sorely lacking in execution.


Why am I not a bigger fan of role-playing games?  Because outside of team aspects or any given new features, they mostly play the same.  Cast an attack, prepare for a counter-attack, use a special attack to finish the battle, repeat.  Yeah, there’s story too, but it seems built more for folks that are fans rather than the ones that aren’t.  That said, there are exceptions to the rule, and I’m happy to report that Namco’s Tales of the Abyss remains a good one.


Say what you want about Sony’s business model, but the company knows how to make good franchises last.  Case in point – Twisted Metal is still running, 17 years strong, with its PS3 release last month.  And now we have Wipeout, a racing series that has been around since the very beginning, under the guise of Psygnosis.  It’s been hanging around for several years, eventually making its way to every Sony platform, including the PS2 and PlayStation Portable.  A while back, it made a grand PS3 debut with the downloadable Wipeout HD, alongside its DLC counterpart Fury.  And now, the series once again returns to speed, this time on the PlayStation Vita.


There’s a reason Electronic Arts dropped a billion or so dollars into PopCap Games when they acquired them last year.  This development team single-handedly makes some of the most addictive games on the planet, ranging from the ball-dropping Peggle to the gem-switching Bejeweled to the shooting madness of Heavy Weapon.  There’s literally something for everyone.  Even Plants vs. Zombies, a game that sounds incredibly farfetched in concept, works oh so well, no matter what platform it’s on.  And this logic holds true to the PlayStation Vita version, which is as fun as any of the others.


There really is no game series out there right now that’s like the Katamari Damacy series.  Originally started on the PlayStation 2 and literally rolling ever since, each game has pretty much been the same lunacy over and over, with the Prince of All Cosmos following his arrogant father’s commands and rolling up objects to turn into stars.  The concept hasn’t really changed, but at least each game has offered its fair share of lunacy between wacky presentation and simplistic ball-forming fun.  The PlayStation Vita version, Touch My Katamari, follows the same trend, though an interesting new shape-shifting feature is worth playing around with.


It’s been roughly about five years since we’ve seen a new SSX title, and the last one we saw, SSX Blur on the Wii, left a lot to be desired.  Between the motion controls and somewhat too arcade-y approach, it just felt nauseating.  I think EA Sports realized this too, so it went back to the drawing board to bring the game back up to speed for a relaunch on Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3.  And after a few delays – and revamping the concept after the initial Deadly Descents announcement – we’re happy to say that SSX, the way we used to remember it, is back.