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PSP Video Game Review: Sunday VS Magazine: Shūketsu! Chōjō Daikessen (サンデー VS マガジン 集結! 頂上大決戦)

In an unprecedented move, both Shonen Sunday and Shonen Magazine have joined forces with Konami in a fighting game featuring characters from popular series within the last 50-years. “Sunday VS Magazine: Shūketsu! Chōjō Daikessen” may not be the ultimate fighting game but it’s still one heck of an enjoyable and exciting fighting game worth owning, especially now that you can buy it cheap online!

TITLE: Sunday VS Magazine: Shūketsu! Chōjō Daikessen

PUBLISHED BY: KONAMI

CONSOLE: Sony PSP

RELEASE DATE: March 2009

On March 17, 1959, two shonen (a term which means “boy”) manga magazines were released in Japan.

One was Weekly Shonen Magazine published by Kodansha and the other was Weekly Shonen Sunday published by Kodansha. The former which were known for its mature titles that targeted high school and college students and the latter which targeted various ages.

But for over 50-years, these two publications have entertained generations of Japanese.

For Weekly Shonen Magazine, they had hits such as “GeGeGe no Kitaro”, “Cyborg 009”, “Hajime no Ippo”, “Eightman”, “Violence Jack”, “Boys Be…”, “Harlem Beat”, “Rave Master”, “Ashita no Joe”, “Tiger Mask”, “Devil Man”, “Kamen Rider”, “GTO”, “Love Hina”, “GetBackers”, “Samurai Deeper Kyo”, “Tsubasa: Reservoir Chronicle”, “Cross OVer”, “School Rumble”, “Over Drive” to name a few.

While Weekly Shonen Sunday had hits such as “Meitantei Conan”, “InuYasha”, “Major”, “Submarine 707”, “The Legend of Kamui”, “Ultraman Taro”, “Urusei Yatsura”, “Cyborg 009”, “Touch”, “Mai, the Psychic Girl”, “Tenchi Muyo”, “Ranma 1/2”, “Mobile Police Patlabor”, “Ushio and Tora”, “Ghost Sweeper Mikami”, “H2”, “Flame of Recca”, “ARMS”, “Konjiki no Gash!” to name a few.

And in an unprecedented move in Japan, both publications would combine their March 29, 2008 issue to celebrate their 50th year anniversary and also do a commemorative event including merchandise and manga crossovers.

And sure enough, that included a video game released titled “Sunday VS Magazine: Shūketsu! Chōjō Daikessen”, a fighting video game featuring 30 playable characters from both publications plus over a 100 support characters.

Needless to say, to have characters from both rival publications in one video game is exciting and while it was amazing to see all Shonen Jump characters in the “Jump Superstars” videogames for the Nintendo DS, needless to say, many people have grown up with both Shonen Sunday and Shonen Magazine publications and to see characters from the last 50 years in a video game is unheard of.

Granted, you’re not going to see characters from Rumiko Takahashi’s popular “Urusei Yatsura” or “Ranma 1/2” but you will see characters from “InuYasha”. You’re not going to see the Ultraman or the Kamen Rider characters, “Patlabor”, “Tenchi Muyo”, “Ghost Sweeper Mikami” series as well and frankly, I’m sure that the licensing for these characters for this game must have been challenging and possibly costly. But for those who do want those major characters, there was a trading card battle pack released in conjunction with this anniversary, but suffice to say, for various gamers of different generations, the characters will appeal to many people.

For “Sunday VS Magazine: Shūketsu! Chōjō Daikessen”, you do get the following 30 playable characters:

Shonen Sunday:

  • Hayate Ayasaki (Hayate no Gotoku)
  • Kaoru Akashi (Zettai Karen Children)
  • Yoshimori Sumimura (Kekkaishi)
  • Tokine Yukimura (Kekkaishi)
  • Kenichi Shirahama (History’s Strongest Disciple Kenichi)
  • Miu Furinji (History’s Strongest Disciple Kenichi)
  • InuYasha (InuYasha)
  • Kosuke Ueki (The Law of Ueki)
  • Recca Hanabishi (Flame of Recca)
  • Ryo Takatsuki (Project ARMS)
  • Aotsuki Ushio and Tora (Ushio and Tora)
  • Yaiba Kurogane (Legend of the Swordmaster Yaiba)
  • R. Tanaka Ichiro (Kyukyoku Chojin R)
  • Noboru Takizawa (Blazing Transfer Student)

Shonen Magazine

  • Ippo Makunouchi (Hajime no Ippo)
  • Mamoru Takamura (Hajime no Ippo)
  • Natsu Dragneel (Fairy Tail)
  • Lucy Heartfilia (Fairty Tail)
  • Negi Springfield (Negima! Magister Negi Magi)
  • Itsuki Minami (Air Gear)
  • Croissant Mask (Air Gear)
  • Shinichi Mechazawa (Cromartie High School)
  • Ban Mido (GetBackers)
  • Demon Eyes Kyo (Samurai Deeper Kyo)
  • Koutarou Shindou (Kotaro Makaritoru)
  • Devilman (Devilman)
  • Joe Yabuki (Ashita no Joe)
  • Tiger Mask (Tiger Mask)
  • Cyborg 009 (Cyborg 009)

Others:

  • Boss (specially made for this game)

GAMEPLAY:

“Sunday VS Magazine: Shūketsu! Chōjō Daikessen” is a fighting game, featuring one-on-one battles but also quest mode included. The various modes in this game are:

  • Arcade Mode – One-on-One 2D battles and you can select from simple mode (for those who find fighting games difficult) and technical mode (for those who like to string combos). Each time you beat the arcade mode with a character, you open up new characters in the game. (Note: For more moves for a character, you will need to play Quest Mode to earn points in order to purchase and unlock moves and assign support characters, special moves to buttons, etc.). There are no stories for these battles.
  • Quest Mode – Quest Mode features a player (or you and a few friends) on a 2-D fighting game in which you fight against various alien-like characters, warping from various stages and trying to beat challenging levels within a time-limit. This mode is essential to earning orbs for unlocking a characters super and ultra moves and more support characters.
  • Free Battle – Fight against the computer or versus a friend via Ad Hoc.
  • My Room – This allows you to learn about your character, information on the series and data for the game and what orbs/sections can still be opened up for characters/move sets.
  • Options – Options to change rounds, difficulty, audio settings, etc.

CONTROLS:

Controls were fairly responsive. For me, I had no problems controlling the characters (as I’m used to fighting games on the Sony PSP) but it’s important to note that I did use a PSP 3000 version versus my 1000 version which made the characters slightly faster as I have read some people having sluggish problems on the older PSP system. There was a sense of a little lagging, so it’s not as fluid compared to a “Street Fighter”, “King of Fighters” or “Tekken” game. The fight mechanics are OK nothing great that you can do hardcore combos. So, this is not exactly type of game to expect so much fight-wise compared to the heavyweight fighting games but compared to anime-related fighting games, it’s actually pretty fun and if you know how to utilize the technical moves of the game, you can do some really cool combos, including aerial combos as hitting L and R can initiate a burst mode sending some characters to the air.

Especially once you open the fighting moves for each character, some of those moves are devastating and fantastic to see. For example, I was using Ippo Makunouchi (of “Hajime no Ippo”) and he seemed sluggish at first as I had to use a lot of defense to move him in and out to land a blow because at times he seemed slow until I activated a support which gave him a bit more speed. But once you unlock his special moves, he starts going crazy with combos and he is much quicker. This happens to a lot of characters. Once you play them in arcade, play them again once you open their moves and they are totally different and much more fun to play.

GRAPHICS:

Character animation is pretty good on the PSP. The characters are similar to their animated counterparts and presented in that manner instead of 3D. Colors are vibrant and the backgrounds for the matches are done well.

AUDIO:

Audio is as expected from this game in terms of in-game fighting with the grunts, occasional yelling of words and sound effects from hits but there is no spoken dialogue and there is no story mode in this game. But for the most part, audio is fine for this game.

IS IT USER-FRIENDLY FOR NON-JAPANESE READING PLAYERS

Very user friendly. There really is no reading to be done unless you want to read about their character histories and information in the “My Room” section. But for the main part of the game and Quest Mode, there is no need to know Japanese. You’ll be able to figure this game out with ease.

When it comes to fighting video games, “Sunday VS Magazine: Shūketsu! Chōjō Daikessen” was exciting for me, in a fan service kind of way, because you get so many characters from the last 50 years from two rival publications in a fighting game. How cool is that? And there is a lot of replayability if you want to utilize the various support characters in the game. And as for support characters, there are over a hundred of them to use.

With that being said, this is not a game where one should think technical fighting in the sense of “Street Fighter”, “King of Fighters”, “Tekken”, “BlazBlue Calamity Trigger”, “Guilty Gear”, etc. Those games had years and years of upgrades, tests with gamers who look to these games for competitive fighting (Granted moreso on the console and arcade rather than portable) but by no means is “Sunday VS Magazine: Shūketsu! Chōjō Daikessen” a bad fighting game because it’s not.

The thing is, your moves are not available from the start, you’re going to have to play a quest mode that is a bit tedious and challenging in order to get points to purchase these moves and then the fun really starts for the game. This is where you can really pull off some fun combos, aerial moves and see these characters fight crazy. And this is where a lot of people probably dismiss the game because they start off on arcade mode and realize how simplistic the moves are and they button mash thinking that the moves are limited without opening the characters full set of moves.

I will say that if there is one bummer about this game is that the speed can get a bit cumbersome with its lag at times and while it’s not as bad when you have a bad signal during an online matchup, for some people, lag is lag and it’s bad. But for me, it wasn’t that bad at all but it’s there. Bare in mind, I tried this on my PSP 3000 and not on the 1000 to see how slow it would be.

And I think another bummer for some players, including myself, is that not all your favorite characters will be on this game? Heck, I would love to play Lum (Urusei Yatsura) or Ranma Saotome (Ranma 1/2) with an Akane or Ryoga support but still, you do get a good balance of characters (30 playable characters) and then with over a hundred support characters, it makes the game worthwhile.

And because its sheer amount of characters, there is no connection to the gameplay of “Sunday VS Magazine: Shūketsu! Chōjō Daikessen” with “Jump All Stars” as they are two different games but I will say that if they did share something in common, it’s the fact that you can assign support characters and that is about it.

Overall, I can’t help but think of how cool it is to have characters from 50 years in a fighting video game. Who would have thought you would see some of these characters in a video game at all…especially from competing two rival publications. Again, it’s definitely a rare situation to see this happen and the fact that they joined forces for their 50th anniversary is quite unprecedented.

While “Sunday VS Magazine: Shūketsu! Chōjō Daikessen” may not be the ultimate fighting game nor it be close to being a great fighting game, it’s still a fun and exciting fighting game with characters that you will probably never ever see again together in a video game. This is a one-shot deal and if you are a manga or anime fan who have familiarity with these characters, then you know how special this game is.

And the fact that you can get this game quite cheap online (I paid $18.99) makes this game worth owning!


PSP Video Game Review: Eyeshield 21 Portable Edition (アイシールド21 Portable Edition)

 

“Eyeshield 21 Portable Edition” tries to be different from other football video games by focusing on football training mini-games and while fun at first, the game is primarily for those who want to focus on managing the team and building a player’s attributes through these mini-games.

TITLE: Eyeshield 21 Portable Edition

PUBLISHED BY: KONAMI

CONSOLE: Sony PSP

RELEASE DATE: 2006

In Japan, American football may not be too popular compared to the international futbol (soccer), but there are a few high schools that have football teams and the NFL does have a game played in Japan, helping to spread the game’s popularity.

But in 2002, writer Riichiro Inagaki and illustrator Yusuke Murata introduced American football to a broader audience through their manga “Eyeshield 21″ which has been featured on the very popular Weekly Shonen Jump, has led to several videogames and also a 145-episode anime series which lasted from 2o05-2008.

“Eyeshield 21″ revolves around a young teenager named Sena Kobayakawa who has passed his entrance exams at his local high school, Deimon Private Senior High School. The school where his childhood friend Mamori Anezaki attends. Both Sena and Mamori are close because all throughout his life, Sena has been bullied and Mamori has been there to protect him.

Living his life as a gopher for other friends, Sena hasn’t had any true friends until he meets the devil-looking Yoichi Hiruma and the very huge Ryokan Kurita who try to get Sena to join their football team.

Of course, Sena doesn’t know how to play football but being the new kid at school, once again, he gets bullied but this time, the huge Kurita ends up taking care of them. Out for revenge, the bullies start to pick on Sena once again but Sena is sick and tired of getting beaten up and when they go after him, he demonstrates a skill which he has had for a long time, speed. Because Sena has lived his life running away, he is very quick and immediately, Hiruma wants to utilize him on the Deimon High School Devil Bats football team.

Sena just wants to become a team manager but Hiruma wants Sena to be the team’s running back. And because Hiruma wants to make sure that no one can steal him for their high school, he plans on a disguise that no one but he, Sena and Kurita will know and that is putting an eyeshield on a football helmet and giving Sena a #21 jersey and the nickname “Eyeshield 21″.

Now the three are determined to find more players to join the Devil Bats and getting closer to their goal into making it to the high school football tournament championship round.

The main characters of “Eyeshield 21″ are:

  • Sena Kobayakawa – The main character. Short, shy and clumsy. Sena has been bullied throughout his life and now wants to stand up for himself. Especially since he has made friends on the Deimon High School football team. So, outside of football, he is seen as the manager, but when he’s on the football field and disguised as Eyeshield 21, he is a running back that dazzles the audience and his teammates with his impressive speed.
  • Mamori Anezaki – Sena’s childhood friend and a girl who has always protected him when he was getting bullied. Scared that Sena is hanging out with Hiruma and team, she decides to become a manager of the team alongside with him and oblivious that Sena is disguised as Eyeshield 21.
  • Yoichi Hiruma – The captain and quarterback with devlish looks and is always up to something that is typically up to no good. Either gaining intel on people at school, taking care of his devil dog Cerberus or trying to make his football team better by pushing them (and taunting them with his machine gun).
  • Ryokan Kurita – Despite his huge size and being a great lineman, he is also shy, soft spoken and kind. Also, loves to eat a lot!
  • Tarao Raimon (Monta) – Had dreams of becoming a baseball player but when the Deimon High School baseball teams kicks him off, the football team utilizes his fantastic catching skills and makes him a wide receiver. Has a monkey-like appearance.
  • The Ha-Ha Brothers – Bullies who are constantly tormenting Sena, the members consider of Kazuki Jumonji, Koji Kuroki and Shozo Togano. Hiruma blackmails them into joining the football team. At first they want nothing to do with the team but now they realize that they are becoming better people and tougher individuals.
  • Manabu Yukimitsu – Known for his balding head and a student that has always been focused on cram schools because of his strict mother, Yukimitsu wants to prove himself that he can do more than just study and wants to become a member of the Deimon Devil Bats and will do all he can despite not being an athlete. He may lack athletic skill like the others but he is very smart.
  • Daikichi Komusbi – A linemen and a short, stocky member who looks up to Kurita as a mentor. Although short, he is strong and has dedicated will power.
  • Natsuhiko Taki – A man who loves to dance and thinks he can do anything by himself. He is the brother of Suzuna and tried to become an American football player, now he is a tight end for the Devil Bats.
  • Tetsuo Ishimaru – Although not a main member focused on in the series, he does pop up once in awhile as the second running back and a member from the track team.
  • Yohei Satake and Kenta Yamaoka – Members of the basketball team who are blackmailed by Hiruma to become wide receivers and linebackers for the team.
  • Suzuna Taki – The sister of Natsuhiko and often rollerblading. She works as part-time reporter and is also the cheerleading captain for the Devil Bats.
  • Cerberus – Hiruma’s ferocious dog that likes to bite people. Used for training on the football players who try to run their fastest away from the dog in order to avoid being bitten. Cerberus has a large appetite.

GAMEPLAY:

The following Japanese import game will work on a US Sony PSP.

As for gameplay, this is where “Eyeshield 21 Portable Edition” differs from the Nintendo DS “Eyeshield 21” game.

In the Sony PSP version of the game, the emphasis is on training and management versus playing an actual football game (which you do on the DS version). You can think of this version of the “Eyeshield 21 Portable Edition” as more of a game featuring many mini-games which are literally training-related mini-games.

The game follows the anime TV series and manga (with slight differences). The game features a season and each week you play a game and each day, you train. You play as the Deimon High School Devil Bats and everyone trains in passing, rushing, catching, strength and stamina tests.

For example:

As Yoichi, for the passing mini-game tests you throw the ball according to the buttons shown on screen. If you see triangle, you press triangle, if you see square, you press square.

For Monta, his catch game is similar to the old school bomberman video game. In this case, you use the should L and R buttons to catch the footballs and avoid the bombs that Yoichi is throwing at you.

For Sena, you can practice your running as the screen tells you to move up, left, right or down and occasionally showcasing two buttons in combination with directional and button hits.

For Kurita, you need to bench press a certain amount of weights, a certain time before the clock expires.

There are so many of these mini-type games that you can also test other players. One game has you trying to run backwards before the time expires, another one is an insanely tough but possible 40-meter dash in which you keep hitting the buttons (ala Track & Field) as quickly as possible, then there is a Stop & Go mini-game where you need to rush as fast as you can and timing your stops.

These are just a handful of the mini-games featured in “Eyeshield 21 Portable Edition”. And with each mini-game, you can level up that player’s attribute, as well as the entire team’s attributes.

Attributes that you will need to boost each player is their: Stamina, Kick Force, Tackle Force, Power Force, Top Speed Force, etc.

But of course, as you continue to get better, as does your opponents, so you need to make sure you move the training up to higher levels and of course, the mini-games get harder and harder.

And then comes game time. The Devil Bats takes on an opposing football team and for each move that your opponent makes, you counter it with a technique which then goes to another mini-game (that has nothing to do with the actual football game) that has an effect on the player during the football game. You can watch the game and if you win, it will follow the storyline of the anime series, if you fail, you can play the game over.

CONTROLS:

Controls are fairly easy for the game and fortunately, the game is not going to hurt your fingers such as “Track & Field” type game on the portable console. I will say though, that if you are using a PSP-3000, there were times that during certain mini-games, I accidentally shut the PSP off because I accidentally moved the power button up to turn off with the bottom of my index finger. I’ll have to test this on my PSP-1000 to see if this happens as well. But for the most part, “Eyeshield 21 Portable Edition” is easy to play.

GRAPHICS:

Graphics are on par with a lot of games for the Sony PSP especially for a game released in 2006. While the game features a lot of the anime-style character designs and does feature good renders of the players, mostly everything is closeup. Don’t expect anything magnificent (as you will mostly see dirt or sky and opponents) but for this game and for the character design, everything does work.

AUDIO:

The game does feature audio from the voice talent (using the seiyuu for the anime series) of the characters of the anime series. There is a good amount of spoken dialogue and if you can’t understand Japanese, you can just click the button to skip. But this is not a full-audio game, a lot of type to go through and I found myself skipping over it most of the time.

IS IT USER-FRIENDLY FOR NON-JAPANESE READING PLAYERS

Yes, the game is very easy and you can figure out the mini-games by trial and error. There are some mini-games during a matchup that requires you to decide what you want your player on offense or defense to do. Again, this is trial and error but if you can read katakana and know what is catch, what is run, what is block, it helps but it isn’t necessary.

I have been a big fan of sports-based anime and in Japan a lot of their sports manga and anime are big hits. From the soccer-driven series “Captain Tsubasa”, the basketball series “Slam Dunk”, the baseball series “Touch”, the tennis series “Tennis no Oujisama” (Prince of Tennis) and many of them have this underdog vs. the better team type of mentality and this extends to the video game versions of these anime and manga series.

Yes, there is a banality when it comes to sports genre video games based on anime series but there is often this side of supernatural element that an athlete has. A super kick, a special tennis serving or hitting ability and with “Eyeshield 21″, what makes the series so exciting is that every team has its special individuals with unique talents. But when it comes to the Deimon Devil Bats (the protagonist team), these guys are like a group of misfits put together in hopes to accomplishing their goal of making it to the Christmas Bowl. But they are surely talented. Sena (Eyeshield 21) has this special ability of his running and in this latest volume, he hones that talent and makes himself even better. We also see new characters pop up and joins the team and definitely see how everyone works together, faces adversity together as a team.

But the question is, do you feel that sense of competition like you would get when playing a sports game (ala EA Sports video games). There are some games that capture the anime/manga series well by showcasing a characters special abilities, for example, like certain Prince of Tennis video games.

And as for “Eyeshield 21 Portable Edition”, this is where you are either going to love or hate this game.

This video game is pretty much a mini-game compilation and all the mini-games revolve around training. There are football matches in which your Deimon Devil Bats will go against teams such as the Ojou White Knights, the Sokukaku Chameleons, the Seibu Wild Gunmans, the Taiyou Sphinx and other teams and yes, you do go against them in matches but not like other football video games. These games are simulated and during some points in the match, on offense or defense, you must decide what you want to do. On defense, want to go after the quarterback, go for an interception? On offense, want to pass, want to run?

You have no physical control of the characters like typical football video games. If you select pass, you will then get a mini-game where Monta must catch the ball (a ball is thrown and you hit the shoulder L & R buttons to time the catching of the ball) or for Sena (Eyeshield 21), using the directional buttons as a button is screened quickly and you must press that button right afterward. On defense, your player may be going for an interception and you must go through a maze running backwards and controlling the player (directions are inverted) or pumping up Kurita by doing some sit-ups.

So, you don’t exactly play a real videogame football match ala Madden or even Tecmo Bowl. You don’t control the destiny of your team if they are going to win or lose because it follows the anime series story. The only thing you have control during a match is certain player’s decisions on what to do during a play and if you do it right, it goes according to what you see with the anime series. Fail, you can play that part over again.

“Eyeshield 21 Portable Edition” is a collection of mini-games that requires good decision-making and management, nothing more and nothing less. If this doesn’t excite you, it’s not a game for you. But if you are a fan of the series, because you know how the characters are, you want to play the mini-games for the fun of it and challenge them.

And while I did enjoy the game, I’m going to tell you the truth and say that I am happy I didn’t spend a lot of money on it several years ago when it was like $55. I got this for a pretty cheap price from Japan ($17 which is pretty cheap ala import). Otherwise, if I did spend a lot, not knowing what the game was about, I would have been disappointed.

But even though it’s a collection of football training mini-games, if anything, part of the delight of playing this game is because I enjoy the anime series so much. You really have to enjoy the series to enjoy this game.

For those who are not exactly big fans of the series, it’s up to you if you mind the game being about management and mini-games and if you are a die-hard fan, I’m sure you’re going to buy it regardless.

Otherwise, if you are wanting a true football video game experience, “Eyeshield 21 Portable Edition” is not for you. If you want a better “Eyeshield 21” game, go for the PS2 or DS version.


PSP Video Game Review: Kenka Bancho: Badass Rumble (喧嘩番長3 全国制覇) from Atlus for the Sony PSP

If you enjoyed games like “River City Ransom” or even the fighting aspects of “Shenmue”, you’ll definitely dig “Kenka Bancho: Badass Rumble”!

VIDEO GAME TITLE: Kenka Bancho: Badass Rumble (喧嘩番長3 全国制覇)

PLATFORM: Sony PSP

DEVELOPER: Spike

COMPANY: Atlus

In Japan, a video game series created by Spike known as “Kenka Bancho” has had a solid following since 2005. The series has spawned a total of three games (the first game for the PS2 was re-released for the Sony PSP in 2009) and a fourth game set for release in Japan on Feb. 2010.

In the US, Atlus has released the third game “Kenka Bancho 3: Zenkoku Seiha” for the Sony PSP titled “Kenka Bancho: Badass Rumble”.

The video game focuses on “yankii” culture which in Japan, describes anti-social people who typically are part of a gang. Often known for having pompadours or a certain way they wear their clothing, similar to the gangs in the US, these guys fight with other gangs in various parts of the city for dominance (others become member of Bosozoku, biker gangs) and for some, its just a phase in high school and live productive lives and for others, when they get older, some move up to become yakuza members or get into some type of trouble.

In “Kenka Bancho”, you are a high school student named Takahashi Sakamoto who wants to be the top “Bancho” in your city. Your father teaches you how to fight, how to use your “Menchi Beam” (a stare down in which you either get respect from other yankii’s or initiate a fight) and if you are about to get into the face of someone, you will be given a phrase which you will be shown each word from the phrase and must quickly select the right word from a total of four words. If you succeed, you get the first punch/kick against an opponent, lose and they get the first hit/kick against you. You also learn from your father on how to use the “Kiai Charge”, which keeps your spirits high and prepares you for anything and help regain your yankii spirit.

The object of the game is to beat the other bancho leaders from other cities and with a one week school trip in Kyoto, what best way to achieve your goal by beating up other yankii’s and stealing their trip itinerary and learning where these banchos from other cities are headed for their trip, so you can beat them and make them your peons. But during the game, you have decisions to make. Do you want to fight all bancho’s, find love with the various female interests? Depending what choices you make can lead you into different storylines.

There is also a clock in the game, so you need to follow whether or not the bancho’s will be at a certain area during the morning, afternoon or evenings and also make sure that you are in your room by curfew (at 19:00) but during curfew, interesting things go on at the Inn that you and your classmates are staying.

So, while others are on their school trip for historical fact finding, you get to roam around various cities and kick ass, earn some money, impress a girl and buy some souvenirs. But most of all gaining the respect in order to be the head bancho.

There is a two-player co-op mode via ad-hoc.

CONTROL:

Controls are quite simple. Use the analog stick to control your character and use R button for the Menchi beam, square for a charged attack, triangle for a finishing attack, X button to charge and circle button to jump. Use a combination of these buttons for a combo attack.

GRAPHICS:

Controls are good but not great. I suppose if you compare this with something similar, it would be “Shenmue” on the Dreamcast and “Shenmue” has more detail and looks better than this game. We see various shops and people walking around but the graphics are not super detailed but for this game, I do like the fact that you can go through different cities and roam around different areas.

AUDIO:

Audio is good. Mostly rockish game music and sound effects when you are punching or the sound of the “Menchi Beam” or picking up items from the ground left over by the goons.

“Kenka Bancho: Badass Rumble” is a pretty cool game. The story is not super deep but the game is fun as it focuses on beating up various yankii’s on their turf, and gaining their respect. I think for those who are wanting an action game that just focuses on kicking ass, “Kenka Bancho: Badass Rumble” is perfect. In a way, it does remind me of “Downtown Nekketsu Story” (aka River City Ransom) in which you fight, build up your character and use money earned to buy food but in this case, also getting better as you fight and earning more stronger moves that you can select. But for those who want a fighting game with a deeper story (ala “Shenmue”), then this game might not be for you.

Personally, so far I have been enjoying the gameplay and just grinding and building my character in order to prepare myself for the bigger brawls against more competitive bancho’s. It’s a very cool game and personally, I love anything like “River City Ransom” (which happens to be one of the first games I bought for my NES) like. And the fact that there are multiple characters that you interact with and although not a deep story, there is a story that is quite entertaining.

UPDATE: I have since beaten the game with two storylines (ignoring all potential love interests and one focusing on the Manami storyline). And there are several storylines I have yet to beat, including beating the main boss (if you lose, the game ends and you don’t get a choice of a refight. So, you will need to reload your saves). Upon beating the game, you carry over your stats and clothes but you literally play the game over again but trying to beat all the banchos and trying out various storylines. I really enjoy this game a lot and great replay value.

Overall score: 89%

PROS:
+ A very cool fighting game for the Sony PSP reminiscent to “River City Ransom”.

+ Interesting characters that you interact with.

+ Controls are easy to use and the game loads quickly.

+ The ability to gain more abilities and fight over 30+ banchos.

+ For some: More action, less story

+ Great replay value with different storyline branching

CONS:
– Some may find the grinding a bit repetitive.

– For some: More action, less story

– Camera sometimes obstructs your view of the action (ie. behind a tree).

Reviewer’s Score: 8.5/10

A PSP Video Game Review: Kinnikuman: Muscle Generations (キン肉マン マッスルジェネレーションズ)

If you enjoyed “Kinnikuman” (Ultimate Wrestling), you’ll definitely enjoy this wrestling game. Although not sporting the better animation like the GameCube game, this Sony PSP features more characters, fun gameplay and many special moves!

TITLE: Kinnikuman: Muscle Generations (キン肉マン マッスルジェネレーションズ )

DEVELOPER: Aki Corporation

PUBLISHED BY: Bandai

CONSOLE: Sony PSP

Kinnikuman: Muscle Generations is a PSP fighting game based on the manga and anime published on Weekly Shonen Jump. Many people are familiar with “Kinnikuman” through the 80’s toys called M.U.S.C.L.E as well as the animated show “Ultimate Muscle” and through the Nintendo GameCube game “Ultimate Muscle: Legends vs. New Generation”

The original show portrayed Kinnikuman as a hero who can turn to a giant and take on monsters, later on it became a comedy/fighting series which Kinnikuman and others take on rivals in the wrestling ring.

THE GAME:

The object of the game is broken down to several modes.

VICTORY MODE: This is where you take a fighter (you start off with around a dozen or so different fighters) and battle through a half dozen opponents. When you beat the final challenger, you open up new characters.

BATTLE MODE: Where you can play single battle, tag battle, tournament battle, elimination battle (5 vs. 5) and survival battle.

TAG TOURNAMENT: 8 tag teams fight for the tag team championship

The collection page shows the miniature figures of each character. Opened up when you win in victory mode.

And another mode which I can not access yet since I haven’t played the game to completion with each character just yet.

GAMEPLAY:

The gameplay is similar to a wrestling and a fighter. Square button to block, X button to hit and kick, triangle button to jump and do a combination of grappling, and circle a grapple button. Top shoulder buttons are utilized to trigger a special move(s).

Unlike wrestling, there is no pinning. You pretty much go at it until the person’s health bar is depleted.

In the beginning, once you figure out the moves it may seem boring at first…because you can do the same thing over and over again but once you start advancing, you realize that your opponents are stronger, will block and counter your moves, use grappling moves that will make you feel for your character as it cringes in pain and is about to lose.

This is where it becomes fun because with so many characters in the game and the fact that you want to open up these characters, this game will keep you busy.

But if you are in it for a straight forward wrestling game or straight forward fighter, this game is not that. Some may feel that it can be repetitive because each character doesn’t have a large move list but with a large roster, this is one of those games you can pass the time on a long commute. Note: You can’t save your progress during the match, it will save your progress when you beaten the game with the character and open new characters but sleep mode will come in handy.

It would have been cool to see an implementation of a tournament where you can create a fighter or take your character with its own storyline to rise to the top but the game is straightforward with no overwhelming story behind the character unless you have read the manga or watched the anime.

GRAPHICS:

Where the GC game is cel shaded, the characters are rendered like a 3D fighter. When you do your special moves, they are done well, some characters look very cool and really, on the PSP, it looks good. But the cel shaded look on the Gamecube version is what I enjoyed more.

AUDIO:

During the match, you hear the two announcers talking about the match. You get your grunts and bone cracking but unfortunately, this is no WWE Raw vs. Smackdown and you get a lot of voice and really, there are no cut scenes in that same manner. Well, you get the intro and the stare down and trash talk of the characters right before the game) A year later and seeing how games have implemented so much on the PSP games (video, audio, gameplay in Syphon Filter to the mass amount of videos and songs in DJ Max), you wish that there could have been much more to the game in the audio department. I did like the announcer, sounds like Jillian (announcer of WWE Raw vs. Smackdown) doing the introductions to this game.

Playing games like BLEACH 2 and with the upcoming NARUTO game on PSP, you want to see the combination of animation and voice being integrated with a game like this.

USER FRIENDLY FOR NON-JAPANESE SPEAKERS:

This game is indeed user friendly for non-Japanese speakers if you want to get in there and play a match. You can figure it out if you can’t read Japanese.

Let me just say that I’m not a reader of the manga, I have not watch too many episodes of Ultimate Muscle. But I am a fan of fighting and wrestling video games (and heavily into import gaming on the portable consoles). Although, the game felt repetitive at times because I can use a certain move over and over to beat an opponent, you realize as you progress of how tough these other characters can be. How frustrating it can be.

Remember the days of trying to beat M. Bison in Street Fighter II and how many quarters or continues you’d have to use to beat it? This is how “Kinnikuman: Muscle Generations” made me feel and gave me more excitement to find strategies to beat the final three opponents with each character.

RECOMMENDED: For those looking for a different hybrid fighting/wrestling game than what is currently offered on the PSP. Definitely for fans of the series.

RATED: 80% / 100

POSITIVES:
+ Many characters in one game to unlock and play against or play with
+ A variety of modes
+ With the vast number of characters, you will be playing this game for a long time.
+ Bosses will offer you a challenge but can be beaten (in other words, not as frustrating as an end boss of a SNK KOF game)
+ Based on a series that many people enjoy and the ability to play those characters

CONS:
– Unlike other games based on an animated or manga series, doesn’t utilize video or audio all that much and what is in the game is somewhat limited to just the announcers, intros and bone crunches. So, don’t expect animated shorts, videos or audio on par with games like BLEACH 2 or the upcoming NARUTO game.
– Fighting can get repetitive with the use of the same moves over and over because of low move list per character. Do not expect large move lists like WWE Smackdown vs. Raw
– No story implementation for each character.
– This is being nitpicky but it would have been nice if you can create your own wrestler/fighter but this is not WWE SvR so…no biggie.

Reviewer’s Score: 8/10

PSP Video Game Review: Densha de Go! Pocket: Chuuousen Hen (電車でGO! ポケット 中央線編)

The second game with more modes and bonuses and less concrete jungle!

VIDEO GAME TITLE: Densha de Go! Pocket: Chuuousen Hen (電車でGO! ポケット 中央線編 )

PLATFORM: Sony PSP

COMPANY: Taito

The second PSP game for the “Densha de Go! Pocket” series is here with the Chuuou-Sen Hen, the line that bisects the Yamanote Line (the first PSP DDGP release) in Central Tokyo. The goal is to drive the orange densha (train) aka Kaisoku and the white train (futsu) through Tokyo Station, Shinjuku, Kanda, Ochanomizu, Yotsuya, Kunitachi and over 20 more stations.

And now, the drive through Tokyo is through areas where you see more homes, warehouses, store buildings as opposed to the major concrete jungle in Tokyo that is on the first PSP release.

Densha de Go! Games are games that are an acquired taste. In a million years would I ever thought I would be into train simulators but since playing the original Playstation game and for nostalgic reasons, remembering the “riding the densha in Tokyo” experience, I have enjoyed the games. But how does the second game compare to the first?

Since I prefer the city locations and more excited driving through the busy concrete jungle in the heart of Tokyo as such in the first release, I score this second release a bit higher than the first because it has a lot more features than the first game.

MODES:

DRIVER’S WORK: Your role is to drive the train to each destination and taking care of your passengers New to this game is the ENJOY MODE where you don’t worry about timing or arrival schedule but speed and brake.
CONDUCTOR’S WORK: Your role is to make sure the train goes to the right destination and you signal the correct time for the announcement. More or less a way to watch the train drive to destination from outside of the train in different camera modes.
DRIVER’S ROOM: Your stats
BUSINESS CARD EXCHANGE: This will allow you to trade business cards (think of it as a trading card) with others who own the game to play different trains they have accessed via wireless.
MUSEUM: Train Introduction and videos that you have opened
OPTIONS: Sound, Display and Controller settings

GAMEPLAY:

Starting off as a driver, your goal is to maintain the speed of the train (a indicator on the bottom right screen tells you of upcoming speeds (KM/H) that your train will need to be and also utilizing the brakes. The goal is to make it to your destination (the next stop) and stop exactly where the indicator says you have to stop. Go passed it or way before the stop area and you will receive negative points. Brake to hard and do something crazy and you will injure your passengers.

You start off with figures that represent your passengers (a total of 10) and you have to make sure you don’t lose them all. By missing a stop or by braking too quickly, you will lose passengers and when you lose them all, your game ends. Fortunately, you can continue and start over.

You start off with three levels. The first is a tutorial and when you scroll through the list, you see several opened levels which you can test your speed and braking skills through several stops on the Chuuou Line.

By successfully completing your stops and beating a stage, you earn money which can be used to buy new levels in the game. Otherwise, you replay the stages you played to earn the money needed to access the next level.

Also, by doing well, you will be able to access several bonuses and videos.

As conductor, it is very different. It’s actually quite easy. The main goal of the conductor is making sure you announce the right stops. This may be difficult for non-Japanese readers or those not familiar with the Japan because you are told where to go, then given a map, you will need to select the area where you are going. Fortunately, the instruction booklet has the translation of the city stops (or you can select via direction pad and guesstimate the cities quickly). Otherwise, the main reason for this mode is to watch the train from the outside (overhead or sideways) as it is driving towards a destination.

YAMANOTE vs. CHUUOU: Gameplay is a little more challenging in Chuuou because there will be times you will be guessing the speed that you must go (more than likely 80-100 kmph). Where the first game kept an indicator of how fast you go, for some reason Chuuou does it a bit less. Also, since you are going at faster speeds, you will definitely need to time your braking to the stops much sooner than Yamanote Line. Also, you will notice hills that increase your speed when going downhill, so fine tuning with your speed decisions come in to play much more in this game. Also, arrival time in certain points of the game is even more important.

Also, new to the Chuuou Line is the light indicators (similar to stoplights) which you will see a few times when going through the line. Seeing a yellow light means you go 45 km/h, 3 white lights at 25km/h

Last, with the addition of ENJOY MODE, people who want things easier can now just worry about just the basics…speed and braking.

GRAPHICS:

The graphics are very well done. I played the original PlayStation version and the PSP version is such a big leap in terms of graphics. How they captured the buildings, trees and local areas around the station while riding the train is beautiful. Only in Conductor’s Work Mode, will you see something which I didn’t like which was the people at the station. They are photo cutouts of people waiting. I wished that Taito would add possibly several 3D characters waiting or moving around the station like real life than just photo cutouts of people that are just standing there.

The difference with this game versus the last is that you get more scenery and you see more homes and warehouses, whereas the first game (Yamanote Line) features many buildings. Also, marker indicators have changed in this game and you will see more light indicators now on your indicator.

Also new is museum mode which if you do well, you unlock weird things such as UFO’s and other Taito trademarks (Space Invaders).

AUDIO:

The audio in this game makes the game very much appealing. Hearing the music of the station before boarding to the female voice explaining about procedures for people to leave the train and much more. Also, the conductor talking about upcoming stops and much more. Just like riding a real train around Tokyo.

CONTROLS:

In Driver’s Work: Controls are actual very simple. Directional pad up and down to control speed and square button to break and X button to release breaks. That’s pretty much it. In Conductor’s Work, direction pad selects the stops you are announcing and the shoulder buttons will be used to play the audio needed when riding the train.

USER FRIENDLINESS TO NON-JAPANESE READERS:

The game is actually very user-friendly for Driver’s Work mode. Although the tutorial is an animated character explaining the game, diagrams and arrows telling you to press a button to break or to speed up is pretty self-explanatory. For Conductor’s Work mode, it may seem unnerving at first if you have to select a city when the map comes on. Fortunately, you have seconds (enough time) to quickly guesstimate the stop that you are going to next by selecting stops on the map as quickly as possible. I do highly recommend looking at the manual since there are lights which indicate a certain speed you need to go by.

All in all “Densha de Go! Pocket – Chuuou Line” is a very enjoyable game for the PSP. It’s really hard to promote a game like this for American video gamers and will appeal to those who enjoy trains and want a simulator or those like myself who reminisce about being in Japan and riding the JR trains everyday to get to destinations.

The second game adds a little more to the train experience which makes the game a bit more challenging and fun but also the addition of the ENJOY MODE, makes it easier for people who are challenged by the gameplay. Also, the wackiness of MUSEUM MODE and the addition of the Narita Express (yes, that long ride from Narita Airport to Tokyo is in this game and can be earned).

As I enjoyed the first game (Yamanote Sen-Hen) because you ride through the busy Tokyo areas, Chuuou Sen-Hen is more about driving through neighborhoods and warehouses which you see a bit more scenery but nevertheless, if you need to choose one game to get, because this version features less high rises and buildings and more scenery, with two DDGP Tokyo games out, you now have a decision of which Tokyo backdrop that you prefer to drive in.

I still have the same feelings for this game that I had with Yamanote in exact stopping but I learned that the rule of thumb is not to be exact and that stopping before the exact point is still good.

Nevertheless, this game does what the game is intended to do. Operating a major train through Tokyo and stopping around 25 stations while maintaining happy passengers and getting them to their destinations in time. For me, it’s more of a nostalgic feeling of riding a train to various locations and Tokyo (minus the large crowds) and thus making it enjoyable.

OVERALL SCORE: 86%/100

PROS:

+ A train simulator going through major stops through another line of Tokyo but more near residential versus in the metro area makes things different.
+ Addition of ENJOY MODE to make the game easier for people who find the game challenging.
+ Wacky additions to MUSEUM MODE
+ For people wanting more of a challenge, with less reference to a speed monitor and downhill speeding makes focusing on speed a major factor in Chuou Line.
+ You can play the driver or the conductor
+ Ability to open up new routes and bonuses
+ Business cards allow trading of trains with people who have the game
+ Driver’s Work mode is pretty user-friendly for non-Japanese readers
+ Quick load up time
+ Chuuou Sen-Hen is more scenery based with more homes and store buildings and greenery and less concrete jungle.
+ The ability to open the Narita Express route and reminisce of that long ride from Tokyo to the airport.

CONS:
– Although the control scheme is simple, maintaining happy passengers and breaking exactly in the stop areas of the station is a challenge.
– Less use of speed monitor in this game makes guessing speeds a challenge.
– Wireless trading is great but chances of finding people living outside of Japan owning the game may be a bit rare.
– Conductor’s Work mode maybe a challenge for non-Japanese readers or people familiar with the stops.
– In Conductor’s Work mode, I wish there are people moving around instead of photo cutouts of people in line waiting for the train.
– For people who want negligence in the forms of bad accidents, you are not going to find it in this game. This is not Burnout Legends.
– If you prefer city lights and tall buildings, then the first game – Yamanote Sen-Hen is for you because driving through neighborhoods, store buildings and warehouses may not appeal to certain people.
– BEING NITPICKY: Taito’s opening theme sounds and looks like it came from a Japan Railways training video and yes, uses the same theme as the first game.

Reviewer’s Score: 8/10

A PSP Video Game Review: Street Supremacy

It’s “Tokyo XTreme Racer” (Shutokou Battle) for the Sony PSP…but with the decline in franchise, this racer is not as good as it used to be.

VIDEO GAME TITLE: Street Supremacy (首都高バトル )

PLATFORM: Sony PSP

DEVELOPER: GENKI

COMPANY: KONAMI

Ahh….the days of playing “Tokyo Xtreme Racer” on the Sega Dreamcast. Well, now the racer that critics hate but has a pretty good following is now out on the PSP. In Japan, known as “Shutokou Battle: Zone of Control”, “Street Supremacy” (US title) has made it to America but is it worth getting?

Well, before I go on with the review…I want to say that the selling point in the US is the name Tokyo Xtreme Racer (as Shutokou Battle is used in Japan). Why deviate from a name that is well known among fans of the series? “Street Supremacy” should have the TXR name to it. Anyway…

On to the review…

TXR has its strong fan following. Why is that? Well, before “Need for Speed Underground”, “Project Gotham Racing” and other racers available today on the consoles, “Tokyo Xtreme Racer” introduced us to illegal Japanese street car racing. Sure, there was “Initial D” but TXR gave us the opportunity to freely roam the freeways of Tokyo, passing through some noteable areas and highways of the city, tuning our cars and most of all… with being the unknown racer…you follow a racer (member of a team), flash your headlights and initiate a race and it was so enjoyable. Most of all, the game offered things for your vehicle that screams Japan and gave you the opportunity to race awesome Japanese cars.

Unfortunately for the series, with the PS2…despite a cool video showcasing Japanese street racing, the games since then have been lackluster compared to what was being offered on the consoles (Need For Speed Underground) and the arcade (Initial D: Arcade State v3). TXR was pretty much the same game over and over but still maintained its fan following (like how things are with Dynasty Warriors…few upgrades with release but pretty much the same game).

Well, now we have “Street Supremacy” on the PSP. A game that would feature new gameplay and heck…TXR portable. The game offers 3 modes:

* TEAM RUMBLE – The main game
* TIME ATTACK MODE
* REPLAY THEATER

GAMEPLAY:

The object of the game is that you are part of a racing team (I don’t use the word gang because in Japan…they are usually reserved for the pompador haired motorcycle gangs) and your job is to gain some rep and challenge other rival teams through races. Increase your level means more money to buy better cars and you can customize up to 25 cars. You can also purchase more cars but they are already customized.

The racing is focused primarily Kanto area (Tokyo) but what was my favorite part of TXR which allowed you to roam around and drive all over Tokyo to find a rival, the mode is now removed and are given a select area featuring a map with where the rival teams hang out and race and where you can challenge them.

There are three types of challenges/battles:

+ FREE BATTLE – Where you can challenge a rival team member and you can win experience and CP (CP is your money)
+ RANKING BATTLE – This is how you move up in ranking of your team. Beat a team member and move up.
+ TEAM BATTLE – When your team takes on another team and you can dominate their area. Beat a rival, you can get them to join your team. You want to build loyalty.

GRAPHICS: Well, the graphics are good. Nowhere as good as “Ridge Racer”, “Initial D: Street Stage” or “Burnout Legends” but ok. You see occasional black marks near the bottom but if you played TXR on a console, graphics have never been the series strong suit.

AUDIO: No, you are not going to get NFSU hip hop or rock music. Nor are you going to find dialogue. For dialogue, text is displayed. What you do hear is the sound of your car, the music which is usually fast electronic music and if you bump into something.

CONTROLS: I prefer using the D-Pad over the nub stick but cars are not as smooth as “Ridge Racer” but ok.

“Street Supremacy” is still “Tokyo Xtreme Racer” minus the free roaming around the city and the excitement of driving around the freeway and going behind them and flashing your lights is unfortunately gone. But still, quite a number of rivals to go against which is the meat of the game. And the fact that you don’t have to drive for long periods of time, definitely is a time saver for those who want a quick game to pass the time.

The appeal for this game is surely going to be targeted towards fans of the series, fans of import racing or Japanese street racing or people who want a cheap racing game.
The game is also among the cheapest PSP games out there, going for $29.99.

I am a fan of TXR..having bought nearly every game that has come out. I’m glad it is out for the portable but like the “Dynasty Warriors” series, fans of the game have always wanted more from it. “Street Supremacy”, although a fun game that us TXR fans are going to buy anyway, it’s really lacking the other parts of what we enjoyed from the console version.

It’s as if Genki rushed this game out in Japan and although over a year later since its release, you would expect something more from the US release. The rumored online multiplayer is not in the game, load times are still slow (but not WWE Raw vs. Smackdown slow) and even worse, Konami doesn’t even ad the TXR name to the game.

Still…I can’t deny that I still will support the series and I do enjoy the game despite its shortcomings because for it’s low price and the fact that the core function of the game is to challenge rival team racers on Tokyo highways, customize your car and these things are still in tact, that’s more than enough for me to enjoy another version of a TXR game.

SCORE: 72%/100

PROS:

+ TOKYO XTREME RACER for the PSP
+ What we love about TXR is on here…challenging racers from teams, customizing vehicle and riving on Tokyo highways.
+ For the busy racing video game fan, the matches are not only fun but also very quick.
+ Cost under $30

CONS:

– No TOKYO XTREME RACER on the title and replaced with cheesy “Street Supremacy” title.
– Some aspects that we enjoyed about TXR are not on the PSP version such as the ability to drive around freely on the highways and using your flashing headlights to initiate a race.
– Compared to other racers on the PSP these days, graphics are ok.
– Game seems rushed and no true improvement for the US release. Where are the multiplayer modes?
– Loading times although nowhere near as bad as WWE:RvsS….Still….ughh….

Reviewer’s Score: 7/10

A PSP Video Game Review: Naruto: Narutimate Hero – Mugenjo no Maki (NARUTO-ナルト- ナルティメットヒーロー)

The first Naruto game on the PSP console is enjoyable but may be a bit too tedious for others!

VIDEO GAME TITLE: Naruto: Narutimate Hero – Mugenjo no Maki (NARUTO-ナルト- ナルティメットヒーロー )

PLATFORM: Sony PSP

DEVELOPER: Artdink

COMPANY: BANDAI

Many fans of the anime and manga series “Naruto” have been awaiting a PSP version of the “Naruto: Narutimate” line.

With quite a number of releases for the PS2, Gamecube, GBA, DS and Wonderswan, the PS2 Narutimate games featured awesome levels, many characters from the anime series but most of all, a combo system that when successfully pulled off, it would give a beatdown that surpasses anything you may have seen from a “Dragonball Z” or even a “Project Justice” game.

But with the PSP release, there have been a lot of rumors of what kind of game it would be. Especially from eager fans who have played the imports and are expecting a PSP release similar to the awesome third Naruto PS2 game.

How does this game fare? My first impression of the game was a bit so/so.
What is the game about? Something weird is going on in Konoha and out of the clouds comes a dark and evil tower. Naruto and friends (and rivals) go towards the tower to uncover is mystery.

Your main goal is to advance up the tower with each floor featuring 4-8 sections (or squares) which you can earn items, earn level ups and even earn more characters that can be used in versus mode.

To advance from square to square in each floor, you must utilize a variety of scrolls that allows you to play various mini-game and earn points or puts your character(s) in a battle with characters from the series.

Along the way you will face obstacles but fortunately, you start out with four people in your team which will grow as you advance further in the game.

In versus mode (against computer), characters earned in story mode can be utilized as you can practice or battle the computer. You can play against other players via wireless (AdHoc).

In NaruP, this is where the points you earned in story mode can open up a plethora of bonuses which range from art, music and video which can be viewed in the main menu.
As I continued to play this game, I was drawn into the gameplay and the storyline. It’s hard to put down because you want to have all 23 characters and possibly leveling them up..

If there was one draw back, its that the story/RPG mode can be very tedious. You have to replay the mini-games (scrolls) over and over to advance. Some quick and some long but fortunately certain characters have the ability to change types of scrolls.

The game looks beautiful and sounds great and sure, the game is a bit more simplified than the PS2 version and may not have the same (or all of the) move sets of certain characters but there is still enough there to really enjoy this game.

As far as replay value goes, after you beat the first story mode featuring Naruto’s storyline, you access a second story mode featuring Jiraiya’s storyline. After completing a storyline, all characters in the game are at your dispoal and you can level them up or earn more points to obtain more items.

“Naruto: Narutimate Hero – Mugenjo no Maki”overall is a an enjoyable game.

By not even thinking of the PS2 games and comparing it to current fighting games on the PSP, you realize that it’s actually a very cool game, with really cool graphics, quick loading system, sound is done very well and a good fighting system (of course, not close to the PS2, third game but still awesome) and extra bonuses. It really is a very cool game and has more to offer than what many fighter games currently on the PSP have to offer.

I do knock some points down because I don’t see why the combo system and certain parts of the game were simplified for the PSP release. I also wish there was more utilization of full animated video (instead of videos with still pictures with animated leaves floating around) in this game and it does get a bit tedious in story mode of having to replay the same scrolls over and over again.

All in all, this is the best Naruto portable game. If you played the GBA, DS or Wonderswan version of the game…in my opinion, this PSP game surpasses many games out on a portable system and even some games out on the console.

Sure, it comes nowhere near greatness of the third Naruto game on the PS2 but for a portable game, what I played was much better than I expected for a first release. And knowing how each Naruto release on a console has gotten better and better from that first release, I look forward to the potential of future Naruto releases on the PSP.

PROS:
+ Many characters from the anime series are on this game.
+ Cool graphics, cool new music and voice acting
+ Controls are easy to use and the game loads quickly

CONS:
– Some characters and their movesets from console versions may not be in this PSP game.
– Combo special moves have been simplified or not as numerous or lengthy as in console version.
– Story mode can be tedious by playing the same scrolls over and over again.

Reviewer’s Score: 8/10

A PSP Video Game Review: Ultimate Block Party

An enjoyable puzzle game from Cyber Front that puts a unique twist on your typical Japanese puzzle game.

VIDEO GAME TITLE: Ultimate Block Party (ころん)

PLATFORM: Sony PSP

DEVELOPER: CYBERFRONT

COMPANY: Conspiracy Entertainment

The addicting Japanese arcade coin-op “Kollon” has reached American shores with a new name:“Ultimate Block Party” featuring characters by Misumi Reiko. A puzzle game that utilizes its own twist on puzzle games similar to “Bejeweled”, “Zooo”/”Zoo Keeper” and even “Tetris” and to make things even more alluring for the PSP puzzle game fan is that it’s a budget title sold for $19.99.

First of all, the modes are as follows:

*SINGLE PLAY MODE – Single play mode allow for practicing, training and a mode where you go for higher points.
*MULTIPLAYER MODE – Where you compete against other characters or compete with a friend via wi-fi.

And the other two modes are the option and ranking modes.

GAMEPLAY:

The object of “Ultimate Block Party” is similar to most puzzle games where you line up a color and you eliminate connecting squares. You can play for points but in multiplayer level, you can go against different characters in the game thus showing a dual screen. Yours and the opponent. The object is by rotating four squares to link up colors. Similar to Tetris, if your blocks rise to high to the top, you will lose.

Now the twist with Ultimate Block Party is that when you link a certain color up, against an opponent, that color of the square can do a variety of attacks. There are seven different colors and as an example, if you link a lot of blue squares, your opponent will then receive squares that are four times the size of a regular square. Red will makes your four square selector turn into a 9 square selector making this a bit difficult. And other squares have different purposes such as creating rectangles to hiding rows of your opponent and more.

Throw in other things such as arrow triggers which can make a whole row change a color and also bombs which can eliminate squares around it.

So, this adds to the complexity of the game. While you focus on eliminating squares and doing combos, you need to pay attention to the colors of the squares because your opponent is very challenging.

CONTROLS:

Controls are simple: X,TRI rotates the 4 blocks to the right, SQUARE to the left. CIRCLE, R and L adds rows of blocks.

GRAPHICS:

Puzzle games are not really judged graphically but having played several puzzle games, the positive is that Misumi Reiko’s characters are interesting. With 8 characters, they have their own style. From Kollon and Marinne being the school girls, Agent Blanc looking like a mafia gunman, Dynamite Ace looking like a super hero and so forth.

The negative…well, the graphics of a game like “Lumines” looks nice and clean. Really cool! “Puyo Pop Fever” has a style and attraction with its characters especially with the vocals that feature the characters reacting to an opponent.

This game doesn’t have that. Basic animation of the characters and even during campaign mode, basic story using Kollon and reusing animation over and over.

AUDIO:

The imusic is not that bad. The disappointment lies in the fact that there are no voices at all for the characters. This is where a game like “Puyo Pop” shines on the PSP and gives the characters its identity due to vocals and an actual story. This one…is just thought bubbles or balloons ala comic/manga.

Overall, this is a very fun game. It’s very addicting. Although other puzzle games may be better than “Ultimate Block Party”when it comes to the overall , music or, bonuses offered and how other games implement a story line or voices to characters, UBP does a great job of what its supposed to be…. a unique solid puzzle game. And with the price at $19.99, if you are a puzzle game fan, for the price and the fun factor, definitely a game worth checking out.

RATING: 78%/100

PROS:
+ Unique puzzle game. Incorporates elements from other puzzle games but adding interesting features with the the squares.
+ Fun and enjoyable gameplay
+ Easy to learn and pick up
+ Budget title and sold for $19.99
+ Popular arcade game from Japan makes its way to the US introducing us to interesting characters
+ Quick load time
+ A game with good replay value

CONS:
– Compared to “Lumines” or “Puyo Pop Fever”…graphics are not as pretty.
– No voices for the characters
– BEING NITPICKY: Putting true single player competitions under multiplayer and single player mode being just playing for points.
– Not much their for secret or bonuses
– BEING NITPICKY AGAIN: You wish for a game that is unique as this, there would be more…more modes.
– You need to save manually, no auto-save

Reviewer’s Score: 7/10