PSP Roundup • Page 4

The brilliant Fading Shadows, PES 2008 and others.

Hard Rock Casino

  • Publisher: Oxygen Games
  • Developer: Farsight Studios

There are two types of bad game in this world. There are the kinds which are a fundamentally good idea, but implemented with all the grace and style of a hideously fat man crossing a busy road on a pogo-stick. Blindfolded. Then there are the games which, simply, have been a bad idea since the moment that the initial concept flopped out of the mouth of a designer. Somehow these concepts survive months and months in development without anyone noticing what a crap idea the whole thing is.

Hard Rock Casino is the latter type of bad game. It's dressed up in ruthlessly competent but utterly soulless execution, but the simple awfulness of the concept shines through brightly. It's not just that it's a compilation of gambling games. Let's pretend that you're willing to accept that games of pure chance can be fun even without any real cash riding on the outcome, because if you don't, then it's not like your hand was ever going to stray near this game on a shelf anyway.

Here you'll find well over a dozen different games, ranging from slot machines to variants on poker - all wrapped up (here's the innovation, ladies) in a story mode where you have to complete various challenges in order to proceed through your "adventure".

We wanted to make sure we got the word "crap" in somewhere.

Two problems slap you in the face within minutes. Firstly, each game is implemented in a manner that's functional, but crude and ugly - with a crowded, unpleasant interface that feels more like a poor Flash game than a proper PSP title. All of the games work, but none of them is particularly fun to play. The most painfully utilitarian is one of the slot machine games, which really is just a matter of feeding it virtual coins and pressing X to see if you win. At least in some of the others you have to make some arbitrary decisions before pressing X to see if you win. We do mean arbitrary, too; there's a whole section for sports betting where you're not shown the form of any of the horses before the race.

Secondly, the adventure mode idea may have worked on paper - but someone should have realised, long before this game made it onto shop shelves, that replacing player skill with random chance in order to progress is a shockingly bad idea. Some of the challenges, admittedly, aren't random - but you'll fail other ones purely because the random number generator didn't like you that time around. It's an exercise in frustration and annoyance, and the payoffs aren't worth it - nothing you unlock makes this game any fun. Even the most ardent casino game fan (do those really exist?) will struggle to enjoy this.


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Rob Fahey

Rob Fahey



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