With the PlayStation Network now playing host to amazing (not to mention exclusive) titles like Fat Princess, Pain, WipEout HD, PixelJunk Eden and Gran Turismo 5 Prologue it’s hard to remember the early, formative days of the PSN. We’ve covered, as far as we know, every single F5 Thursday since the site went live, which at rough guess puts the figure at around a hundred. One hundred weeks ago the updates were a little more sparse, and some weeks went by without a single new addition to the Store – so, in a twist to what you normally get from TheSixthAxis on a Thursday, here’s a little retrospective of the first ten PlayStation Network games.
Tekken 5: Dark Resurrection – Namco, March 23, 2007
A port of the 2005 arcade title, Tekken 5: Dark Resurrection was essentially the seventh Tekken (making Tekken 6 the eight) and also saw release on the PSP. The game was available at launch for a penny shy of seven quid which was really expensive back then for the PSN, and I distinctly remember buying it the week before Virtua Fighter 5 came out to see if I had gotten over my passionate hatred of fighting games.
I didn’t like Dark Resurrection then, I dislike it even more now but I do remember enjoying Sega’s brawler for some reason – to me Tekken was endlessly frustrating and full of really unimaginative characters. Still, enough people liked it for Namco to release an online mode in November that year.
Blast Factor – Bluepoint Games, March 23, 2007
Blast Factor, bless it, was Sony saying “we need a Geometry Wars”. They didn’t get one: Blast Factor isn’t a bad game, and the Sixaxis controls are pretty cool, but it just doesn’t have that individuality that ‘Wars can boast. Despite being essentially a biology-based twin stick shooter and unique at the time for the PlayStation 3 it simply didn’t hold much favour with me and although Bluepoint have supported the game well, with multiplayer (standard in the European version) and additional level DLC, we’re still to see the Trophy patch over here.
GripShift – Sidhe, March 23, 2007
If you’ve ever played the PSP Gripshift you’ll know exactly what to expect here, and although the cool level editor function found in the portable version is missing, the PlayStation Network version of Gripshift is a really solid puzzle/racer with absolutely masses of things to do.
Split over 4 worlds, the 150 levels offer incredible value for money and completists will dig the multiple objectives found on each level. Alongside the vehicular platform-based puzzling there’s also race modes (with online play) and internet leaderboards for every single level.
Gripshift remains a personal favourite from the early days of the PS3, and still gets regular playtime – although, to be fair, so does the PSP version.
Lemmings – Team 17, March 23, 2007
Team 17’s update of the classic Lemmings is a brilliant game. With completely re-done graphics (and, naturally, entirely new levels) the game represents a wonderfully cerebral challenge despite fewer levels than the 16-bit versions of old. Although the PS3 iteration doesn’t allow the player to create and share levels, a similar story to the omission from Gripshift, Lemmings PSN is still a worthwhile buy.
Flow – ThatGameCompany, March 23, 2007
Jenova Chen and Nicholas Clark’s simple Flash game created quite a stir when it arrived at the launch of PlayStation 3. Rounding off a superb array of day one downloadable titles, Flow birthed ThatGameCompany and the notion that Sony were more than capable of recognising a good game when they saw it, even if the developers were relatively unknown.
Flow had sold 350,000 copies in the first two weeks, and since then has seen a minor expansion pack and a PSP port, and of course the follow up hit Flower. The PS3’s first ‘art game’, Flow is entirely controlled by the motion sensors in the Sixaxis controller and is a relaxing, stimulating title that really should be experienced by everyone.
Super Rub ‘a’ Dub – Sumo Digital, April 5, 2007
After a two week gap, Sumo’s Super Rub ‘a’ Dub bounced onto the PlayStation Network and was promptly panned by critics not prepared to give the deceptively deep gameplay more than 10 minutes of playtime. Sumo, it seems, would form the backbone of the initial post-launch PSN line-up, and although not everyone was happy with the way Super Rub ‘a’ Dub turned out looking back on the game (you might want to fire it up, there’s been a nice update) it’s still wonderfully presented and the guys at the top of the leaderboards clearly know their way around each level.
The player must tilt the Sixaxis to move a rubber duck that must in turn lead smaller ducks to the exit – traps, jumps and hungry sharks make up the majority of the game’s puzzles but the main enemy is the time, continuously counting down.
Go! Sudoku – Sumo Digital, April 13, 2007
Go! Sudoku was my first experience on the PlayStation 3 with expansion packs. You could grab the free taster to get a sample of the game, then opt for various downloadable puzzle packs depending on how difficult you wanted the game to be. Sudoku is sudoku, the game’s still popular and the Sumo developed PSN title still ranks amongst the best in terms of presentation. It’s much the same as the PSP game, but that’s no bad thing.
Q*Bert – SOE, April 27, 2007
Two quid. I remember it well, and although at that time nothing had hit the Store for another two weeks Q*Bert remains the only game I wish I hadn’t bought. I like the principle of Q*Bert, always have, but the tacked on motion control and rudimentary graphics don’t do the game any favours. Q*Bert, though, is notable for being the first retro port on the PlayStation 3.
Go! Puzzle – Sumo Digital, June 1, 2007
Go Puzzle, however, was (and is) brilliant. Essentially three games in one (although you could buy each game individually) Go! Puzzle consisted of Swizzle Blocks, a quickfire mixture of Hexic and Lumines, Aquatica, which played much like Columns, and Skyscrapers, the best of the bunch and an absolute blast in multiplayer.
If you never bought Go! Puzzle do so now – Skyscrapers, which requires the player to get from one side of a story to the other before moving vertically to the next, is a richly presented and utterly addictive puzzler with a surprisingly original and deep concept at its heart. The other two games rounded off the package nicely, and Go! Puzzle was certainly the post-Flow highlight for me and was probably one of the best early PS3 multiplayer games regardless of media.
Mortal Kombat II – SOE, June 8, 2007
And then there’s Mortal Kombat II, Midway’s legendary 2D fighter ported directly to the PlayStation 3. It has remained in whatever PSN charts we can get hold of for the two years it’s been around, partly because of the low price and partly because punters would know exactly what they were getting for their money: Mortal Kombat games have always been fun and this, the PS3’s second retro game, shows no sign of slowing in terms of sales.
I look back on the ten games above with fond memories. Yes, I know it’s only been two years but we’ve had so much since then and looking forward to titles like Go! Puzzle was just as exciting as watching out for games like Fat Princess now. The next ten games included Super Stardust HD, PixelJunk Racers and LocoRoco, and we’ll cover them and the remaining seven titles in a similar article next month.