So, what is this wrongly shaped device I've got here? It's a Nokia N-Gage QD, and it's, yes, a rather oddly styled machine. In fact, it makes me wonder what exactly Nokia was thinking when it envisioned the N-Gage.
The PSP is a delightful machine. A bit fat round the hips and sporting an ungainly bottom, perhaps, but nevertheless you wouldn't kick it out of bed. However, as a games console, one would be hard-pushed to say the PSP has been given a chance to really shine; recent games have been underwhelming, to say the least.
Every so often, there falls into the lap of a games reviewer something which makes you pause, double take with a slightly feeble 'huh?' before wondering whether what you have in front of you can be reviewed.
As you sit there with your shiny new Xbox 360 suspended in its aeratory harness, pity the poor GameCube: its games, cast off the shelves of all but the most dedicated shops, now languish in Woolworths bargain bins and eBay fire-sales.
As Albert Einstein would have probably said (if he wasn't, you know, dead), game ideas should be as simple as possible, and no simpler. When an idea is simple, yet well executed, you can end up with awe-inspiring things-of-legend, which continue to draw whimpers of delight from folk for years. But if a game crosses that fine line into the too-simple, it becomes a forgettable, put-down-in-half-an-hour outcast.
So. Binge drinking then. The government says it's a bad thing and no mistake, and they're going to get the rozzers on anyone who does it. Apparently, people who drink are outcasts from righteous society and smell, to boot.
Let's get the rock on down with this game! It's totally cool and awesome! It has lots of the fighting with modes and totally cool enemies! It will make you want to be totally challenge! It's so with the fighting, and the dashing and the fireballs and the flying! It soooo good!
It was a time for war. It was a time for heroes. It was a time for war... and heroes. It was a time for war, heroes, vampires and cowboys. It was a time for bad voice actors to try to sound like that man who does all the film trailers in that stupid voice. It was time for all of those things, with more cowboys and vampires. Lots of vampires. But it was not a time for fun.
I had a teacher at school, and he had an extra prehensile finger between the thumb and index finger of each hand. He normally kept it folded out of the way, when writing on blackboards and the like. But, when I had been rude, or naughty, he would unfurl it, and flick me hard on the forehead with it. Apropos nothing, this sort of thing proves that mutant powers are brilliant. I wish I had one.
From the moment the disc boots, and the flashy titles screech past, one word fizzles at the front of your mind.
Spider-Man. Doing whatever a spider can!
There are problems with Copyright, and the Games Industry has a problem with its old games. In fact, most of the time, you'd think the industry doesn't want you to know that old games have ever existed, and they're prepared to use Copyright Law to shut down emulation sites that allow you to play those old games; games from which those companies are no longer making any money, and if they had any decency would offer a blanket license of free of charge to those of us keeping some of mankind's finest creations alive. But no, they want to suppress these games because they are ashamed of them.
I love plasticine. It's a wonderfully versatile substance. You can make juvenile structures and appendages from it, explosives of various kinds, and can even create large-scale animated recreations of what it's like to live Up North with it. Indeed, it's the hand-modelled plasticine that gives the Wallace and Gromit animations so much of their visual charm; it's a great pity then that some of this charm gets lost in the [gaming journalism cliché alert] Inevitable Game Adaptation of what is a very enjoyable animated romp.
Isn't it odd that there exists a whole litany of games that we instinctively know are going to be plumbing the festering sinkholes of gaming before we even play them? Once such indicator of impending polygonal doom is a game's being titled "Beat Down: Fists of Vengeance", a title which is remarkable in its Nostradamus-like ability to prefigure the train-wreck of tragicomic wrongness about to unfold.
As the 'Dynasty Warriors' series has marched inexorably on, the raw numbers quotable for its various metrics (missions, characters, objects, etc.) have grown steadily with each release too. With this latest release, you will be forgiven for losing count or exaggerating the expanses. With this game it's hard to avoid that. Dynasty Warriors 5 is the, oooh, let's say the 39th 'Warrior' game in total that KOEI has committed to consoles - if you include the Samurai/Misc. Warriors games that fill the gaps between dynasties. There are 48 playable characters in this game, six entirely new, most borrowed from earlier incarnations.
SOUL RUBBER! SOUL RUBBER! SOUL RUBBER! SOUL-
Do you hate people who like to make things difficult for themselves by using the wrong tool for the job? You know the kind of thing they do; picking teeth with a breadknife, changing channels on the TV by throwing something at it, sleeping on beds of nails, washing clothes by hand, that kind of thing.
You can imagine the conversation that took place in a hundred game studios across the world: