Key of Heaven

Key of Heaven

Key of Heaven

Door to hell?

It's no surprise that PSP-exclusive RPGs are so scarce. Quit whining and actually think about it for two seconds: simple-looking 2D adventures based on the form and function of the SNES role-playing heyday, while affordable to make, don't fit the aspirational futuristic branding too well. After all, we might know that sprites can still be totally amazing, but they hardly inspire tech envy from the eyes peering hungrily over your shoulder on the bus.

On the other hand, sprawling macro-narratives populated by WETA-style leathery-faced orcs and chisel-chinned polygonal heroes all lit cinematically by a continuous graphical firework display take a load of people with a load of time and a load of cash to make. It's unlikely that any publisher would lay down the same kind of financial and temporal investment that a grown up console's AAA RPG would need for what's essentially a little pocket gamble in a niche and expensive genre.

So, let's start this gratefully: Key of Heaven (Kingdom of Paradise in the US, Tenchi No Mon in Japan) is neither a port nor a cross-platform hedged bet. It's rather a well-presented, PSP-exclusive Action RPG mixing up the immediacy of beat-'em-up style fight mechanics with RPG-lite levelling and questing. It's long, good-looking and mostly spectacular (if a little soulless) in its kinetic visual appeal. Hero Shinbu's attack moves dance and twirl eloquently across the PSP's delicious screen and, for public transport show-offs, it's exactly the kind of pretty faced companion to inspire jealous stares.

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Key of Heaven

A proper RPG for the PSP?

RPG fans haven't had much luck as far as the PSP goes. The choice of games in the genre, or at least ones you can buy in European shops, basically boils down to Untold Legends: Brotherhood of the Blade - which, frankly, isn't too impressive.