We’ve already covered Hero of Sparta, Tetris, Brainpipe, Alien Havoc and Fieldrunners, so here’s the next batch of PSP Minis under the TSA radar.
I really wanted to like Fortix – I’m a big fan of the Qix inspired gameplay, for sure, but Nemesys have struggled with keeping the mechanics in this PSP minis title to the bare minimum required. Essentially an RPG-lite version of the classic template, your quest is to cover the targets by tracing out square shapes left by trails from your character, supposedly a knight. Connect up a square (made from other previously constructed lines or the edges of the map) and that area becomes yours, destroying anything within in. Fortix complicates this by introducing lots of cannons and dragons, both of which prove to be a hindrance rather than a clever way of building the difficulty curve. The graphics are basic, the load times are too long and the game needs a fair amount of balancing – an update could make it much better: 5/10 [AC]
BreakQuest is hampered only by the PSP’s hardware – the analog controls just aren’t precise enough to enable smooth, quick movement for your bat in this refreshing take on the classic bat and ball gameplay. True, it’s possible to use the d-pad but the game’s built-in acceleration is a little unpredictable and BreakQuest actually seems to be aware of the host’s shortcomings by giving you a rather generous (but slightly buggy) second chance if you manage to just throw the bat sideways at the last second, normally sending the ball directly vertical. Still, with 100 levels and some cool physics (everything seems to have some sense of weight and collision) it’s a fun, but tough diversion for PSP fans. The presentation’s nice and there’s certainly a lot of ‘game’ for your money: 7/10 [AC]
Vempire offers a nice twist on the ‘match 4’ mechanic by introducing a few Puzzle Quest-esque role playing elements to bump up the strategy. Although you’re limited to just using the d-pad and triggers to rotate any set of four squares on the playing field by playing through the game (and in particular, the bonus levels) you’ll accumulate cash which you can spend on various luck and attribute boosters, alongside other twists such as obtaining assistants to give you a hand on the battlefield should you be skilled enough to summon them. Vempire’s strategy comes in the way you set up combos, much like any other game, but the time limit and the omnipresent threat of a boss enemy coming to mess up your level gives the game some urgency. Great presentation and plenty to unlock makes Vempire highly recommended: 8/10 [AC]
Yup, a port to PSP of a free flash game playable online (or on the iPhone for 59p). Only Bloons is so addictive and challenging that within 10 minutes, I have all but forgotten about the price (£3.49). The premise is very simple; there are balloons and you have to pop them with a dart-like object, adjusting its trajectory. As you progress through the game, the positioning of the balloons becomes even trickier and obstacles block your way. There are also bombs strategically placed within the balloons and even a level editor to boot. The game strikes that difficult balance between too hard that you give up but not too easy that you get bored easily. Some later levels do get incredibly frustrating, but there’s just something about it that makes you carry on. It ultimately lacks the shear addictiveness of other web-based games or minis titles, but proof that sometimes the best things in life are the simplest: 7/10 [TL]
By being called Pinball Fantasies, this minis title promises both a little and a lot. The very nature of the game is pinball and really it is as simple as that. You use the x button to start the action and use L and R for the representative flippers. It’s accompanied by a zany soundtrack and a flashing score board. So it’s nothing really new. But fantasies? Really? Well, perhaps if you are a big pinball game fan or remember playing the 1992 original. But despite it’s lack of fantasies, it is an entertaining game. Minis are primarily designed to be fun in short blasts and for £3.99, Pinball Fantasies offer up doses of small fun to help reduce boredom on the train to work. Sure, it doesn’t look particularly good nowadays and lacks longevity, but that’s missing the point somewhat: 7/10 [TL]