Strewth, PSP Game Features Trophies

Halfbrick Studios, the Australian developers behind PSP Minis title Echoes, certainly know how to push the envelope of what’s expected from a Minis game.  Echoes is a top-down 2D puzzler, but one with shades of Braid and Qix blended together with some gorgeous hand drawn backdrops and a quirkly touchy-feely menu system.  From the off, with the title screen showing you all you need to know, Echoes is a great game and one, for just £2.49, is absolutely deserved of your attention if you’re looking for something a bit different on your PSP.

How does it play?  Well, you’re Charlie, a girl on the lookout for crystals in a number of increasingly difficult levels.  To pick up a crystal, simply move the analog stick and she’ll walk in that direction, your on-screen avatar little more than a large hat and two protruding feet.  Touch one, and another crystal will appear, but so too will your echo, a slow but exacting trace from your last position to the current crystal, and collision with an echo is fatal, resulting in a lost life.  It’s such a brilliantly simply idea that it’s one that you can’t help but wish you’d thought of first.

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There’s several levels in this format, each reached by traversing the menus just as you would the actual game, which is a nice touch, but Echoes offers so much more, including multiple game modes unlocked after you’ve beaten the tutorial section in the main Arcade mode.  What impresses me the most though about Echoes are the in-game Trophies, which whilst not your XMB-standard silverware are actually a step beyond in terms of their implementation.  An example is the Bronze “Dare Devil” Trophy which to earn you need to narrowly avoid an echo.

However, all Trophies start as Bronze, and you must work your way up through the ranks to get Silver and Gold.  In the above case, the Silver Dare Devil Trophy is unlocked when you narrowly avoid two Echoes at once.  See?  Likewise, “Cool Cat”‘s Bronze is awarded for completing a level with three lives remaining – the starting amount – but to get Silver you need to finish with four, so you’ll need to pick up an extra live and not lose it during the level to get that particular Trophy.  It’s a really cool feature and one that will surely ramp up the replayability.

So, with a stack of challenging levels, leaderboards to beat, five distinct game modes (with one allowing you to control time with the triggers) Echoes is one hell of a game for the price of a pre-manufactured burger.  The visuals are quirky, the music rich and the gameplay absolutely solid.  The game isn’t for everyone, of course, but anyone looking for something a little bit different with masses of things to do at a great price will be happy with Echoes, which is probably the most complete PSP Mini I’ve currently played.

Hats off to Halfbrick then, have a hard earned Gold Trophy.

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