31-05-11
Posted by Duane at 10:04

Oh god, not another Final Fantasy re-release! Why can't they just remake Final Fantasy VII? Well, hold your horses just a minute! This ones different. Well, okay, no its not but it is essentially three games in one.


Final Fantasy IV is one of the titles in the franchise thats generally overlooked by, well, everyone really, although Square-Enix have attempted to rectify this in recent years by hiding away a sequel to it titled Final Fantasy IV: The After Years on the Wii's Virtual Console, inventive with the title, huh? Thats enough with the sarcasm though, as here Square-Enix have brought both instalments in the Final Fantasy IV universe together for the first time and included a story that fills in the gaps between the two tales. So yeah, three old-skool RPG's on one UMD.

Okay, so visually no major effort has been made to update them, the sprites have been cleaned up a little whilst on the maps but it still looks like a SNES game, that is until you enter into battles and see the all-new backgrounds and character art (for the enemies anyway), which whilst an admirable addition actually kind of spoils the package a little as its far too different to the rest of the games visual appearance. Thankfully these don't hamper the performance of the game, and even without doing an install it zips along at a pretty good pace with no slow-down insight, there's the occassional black screen when alot of enemies are about to appear in battle but this can also be rectified by choosing to have BGM music rather than the remixed efforts (both of which are actually rather good and its purely down to personal preference to which you'd choose).

As far as tales go, Final Fantasy IV is a mixed bag, you're never too sure whats going to be happening next, which is a good thing, but it can also backfire on the player as there seems to be alot of characters who are added to your party along the way that die or never return, add to that a key character changing class part way through the tale and the first of the three games isn't too friendly for the player. Things are rectified in the other two tales, although Interlude is most definetly filler and the weaker of the three entries.

Final Fantasy IV is one of those titles thats criminally under-rated, as I've already pointed out, but its even more so considering the series it belongs to, this is partially down to lack of releases outside of Japan more than anything, that and its just not quite as streamlined as VI or as huge and engrossing as the PlayStation era titles, thats not to say its a bad game, its anything but, and I'd highly reccomend it to anyone who's grown a little tired of the companies more recent efforts, its definetly worth your time and investment even if it does look incredibly dated, although thats helped to some degree by the nature of the platform this compilation has been released for and the PSP's screen gives the colours a wonderful kick to the backside. If you're a Final Fantasy fan, or even an RPG fan, looking wistfully at the told days when it wasn't all about epic CGI sequences and hand-holding, Final Fantasy IV: The Complete Collection is a must buy.
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29-03-11
Posted by Duane at 06:10

The popularity of Capcom's Monster Hunter series on the PSP has grown to the extent that we're now beginning to see people trying to snatch that particular crown from them. Essentially we're seeing the handheld equivalent of Call of Duty being played out, and Namco's Gods Eater Burst (formerly God Eater in Japan) is the latest challenger whilst we await the release of Monster Hunter Portable 3rd. We've already had two attempts from SEGA to take this particular crown, which for all the good things they managed (including online play rather than Ad-Hoc) appeared to have failed outside of Japan.



So where does Gods Eater Burst try to do things a little different? Well for starters, it sits comfortably between Monster Hunter's technical approach to the genre and Phantasy Stars more relaxed, button combo stylings. Gameplay wise, theres more button mashing going on, making it a little more like Dynasty Warriors Strikeforce in that respect, but there's a heavy focus on resourcing materials, either from the landscape or from each of the creatures (or Gods) you slaughter which ties it into the more technical approach that Capcom use. The level of cusotmisation is of a higher standard than any of the other titles on offer too, you can customise anything from what clothes your character wears, to their weapons and even carrying multiples variants of bullets for your switchable weapon. Enabling you to switch tactics on the move rather than being limited to just one particular weapon. All of this makes the players experience much richer, in my opinion, than any of the other games currently on offer especially in single player. You see whilst most of the others feel like they were designed for multiplayer first and then included a single player so you have something to do when you can't hook up with friends, Gods Eater Burst feels like an equal focus has been placed upon both aspects. Although obviously the game excels once you are playing with friends although theres less need for others to have adopted a different approach to the game than the one you've taken like in Monster Hunter.

So whilst in single player terms Gods Eater stands above the others, ever so slightly, in multiplayer its as good as anything else on offer, although like all those titles its pretty much let down by the insistance on using Ad-Hoc multiplayer rather than including a networked mode (which admittedly Phantasy Star Portable 2 managed, but that was flawed...). One area in which Gods Eater fails is in its presentation and setting. The game offers a more post-apocalyptic setting when compared to Monster Hunter's Prehistoric stylings, Phantasy Stars sci-fi settings and Dynasty Warriors feudel Japan styling. There's also a heavy anime tint to its appearance, especially in the characters, but it all sort of clashes and uneven. Characters and buildings are fairly detailed, but landscapes, and textures are rather bland and uninteresting. This is obviously to allow for more detailed characters (which include some simplistic facial expressions) and creatures, but it's ultimately rather jarring and makes the game that little bit less interesting to play as it never really feels like your exploring the land. This is brought to the attention more by the resources you gather from each area, whereas in Monster Hunter you farm plants and stuff by actually searching through them, the locations of items on the floor in Gods Eater is revealed by a glowing spark on the foor which requires you to just press the circle button whilst near it to gather that particular resource. It's only a small complaint, but it damages any sense of belief that you've entered this world which adds to that same damaging of the sensation created by the bland and uninspired locations.

As an entry into this particular market though, Namco have got most of the basics spot on. The game is fun to play, it has an actual story thats a little more advanced than what Phantasy Star offers up (and a hell of alot more so than Capcom's offering), it just has a few little things that could be worked on next time, and with the games sales in Japan, it should see another instalment at some point in the future. There's definetly potential here.
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16-03-11
Posted by Duane at 06:44

Strategy RPG's are pretty much two a penny on the PSP, and honestly, most of them are of a very high quality. So its pretty brave of Square Enix to revive and remake a forgotten classic from the SNES era (that was pretty niche back then as it is!) and release it amongst the likes of the companies own Final Fantasy Tactics and Nippon Ichi's Disagea's (to name just two). They couldn't just get away with a straight port either, as fans of the original game would probably feel slightly dissapointed (although pleased it had been revived), so a full on remaking of Tactics Ogre: Let Us Cling Together is a risky thing to do from a commercial and development stand point.



From the very beginning Tactics Ogre feels different. Sure it looks like all the other SRPG's out there, complete with pixel art, hand-drawn character portraits and isometric viewpoint, but visually, its some how richer and more lovingly drawn, so to speak. Even more so than Final Fantasy Tactics: The War of the Lions which featured some absolutely stunning animation and cut-scenes. Each individual character class is instantly recognisable and even the different genders are vastly different in appearance, from just a quick glance you can tell if the opponent is using a Ninja or its female counterpart the Kunoichi. There may be no statsitcal difference between the two, but there sure as hell is a visual difference. It's this attention to detail that really makes Tactics Ogre: Let Us Cling Together feel like something truly special.

The sheer attention to detail twists and turns its way through every single aspect of the game, the script is an absolute joy to read, with the plot's various twists and turns (usually chosen by the player in a sort of Bioware moral compass kind of way) being expertly crafted and fascinating to watch play out. This is largely thanks to the manner in which the script, which whilst written in an "Ye Olde English" kind of way, never feels anywhere near as ham-fisted as something like Lionhead Studio's Fable games. The games lore, usually something a little extra for the truly dedicated, hides away tips designed to help in battle, they're not immediately obvious, but are written in amongst historical tales from the games world in the Warren Report. Reading the Report also opens up new, optional area's for the player to play in, although whilst these evidently strengthen the players party Square-Enix have managed to balance the game as such that you never need to properly grind to be able to get through the game. Obviously running round the map, partaking in random battles will help in the long run, but its not essential to survival by any means. Instead the game tasks you with class management. On occassion you'll need to change certain members of your parties class in order to progress, this never feels like a chore purely because you level up the classes rather than the characters. In order to bring some tactical variety to each party member however, you can assign skill points to certain skills that also level up as you use them. Enabling you to have Archer's (for example) that specialise either in 2-handed Longbow's with a long range and then have another who uses a shorter range, single handed bow and also carry a small melee item enabling a middle-range attack.

It's this ability to approach each battle in a different manner that makes sure that Tactics Ogre: Let Us Cling Together never feel like a chore to play, unlike many of its genre siblings which often feel more pre-occupied with forcing the player to grind battles in order to gain strength, this particular title rewards those able to use the strengths of their particular party members and iron out the weaknesses of their army via tactical analysis rather than sheer strength.

If you own a PSP, and you even remotely enjoy the likes of Final Fantasy Tactics or Disgaea, Tactics Ogre will make you fall head over heels for the genre, it really is that good.
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10-10-10
Posted by Duane at 16:16

Phantasy Star Portable, the handheld version of Phantasy Star Universe was in some ways impressive and others a let down, the latter because of the lack of true online multiplayer support. SEGA have now seen fit to see to this and have become the first of the PSP multiplayer RPG's to succesfully branch out from Ad-Hoc play into the realms of Online (or Networked if your from Sony) multiplayer.



Great news for long time fans like me who have been looking for a fix to their Phantasy Star Online fanatism. So what do we have on offer and how doe sit differ from the previous Phantasy Star Portable?

Well this time round the story is set 3 years after the events of Phantasy Star Universe, so there's no characters to interact with (although old faces make a return), a whole new story to be told and some altered locations. Obviously everything still takes place in the Gurhal system, which doesn't have quite the level of charm or indeed fan love of the Ragol system, but theres enough variation in locales to keep pretty much everyone entertained.

Control wise everything is the same, each weapon class (of which there are a large number) has its own combo speed and number of attacks so you can have your own approach to how you want to play, not only that but you aren't severely limited by which class you choose for your character to be as you can sink points into weapon classes to allow for you to equip different ones, meaning that a Hunter isn't stuck to high level melee weapons, mid range ranged weapons and low level tech abilities and items although the amount of points you need to use up to increase a weapon classes rank differs depending on your character class. Also new is a dodge feature, making battles feel a little less clumsy than previously and allowing for less item use provided you get the timing right.

Everything that was great about previous releases returns, there's a huge number of weapons available, many of which are unique in appearance, its still fun to sink time in to do a bit of grinding and thanks to the Online Multiplayer it no longer feels pointless to do so if you happen to be the only PSP owning person out of your group of friends. There's also a wealth of clothing items to add to your characters unique appearance and a large number of items to use to decorate your room.

Taking things online makes the game feel so so much better, you no longer have to rely on the AI of your comrade's to heal you when you need it, nor are you likely to have to backtrack when they get stuck on the corner of a piece of scenery. Communication is obviously a problem, and SEGA have found a way around this for important things like needing to heal, checking your inventory, finding keys and general gameplay stuff by having customisable auto-text that displays to the rest of the party when certain criteria are met. You hit low health, a text bubble appears declaring that you need to heal or have someone heal you. You can still chat via a software keyboard but honestly its excruciatingly slow, for example I and another player took on a boss, our character levels meant it shouldn't have been too much of an issue but they died. Being out of practice I'd forgotten to take Moon Atomizer's into the field with me (Phantasy Star's equivalent of a Phoenix Down) and couldn't inform them of this until the fight had finished which they were most displeased with, I learnt my lesson but the very nature of the games release led to this being an issue. There are ways around it of course and if you have a group of people you play with regularly a Skype conversation or something similar would be the ideal work around for what is only really a small issue with the game.

Now, if like me you want to enjoy Monster Hunter but find it a little too overbearing whilst Koei's Dynasty Warriors Strikeforce is a little too basic (plus Namco's God Eater not being available in Europe) then Phantasy Star Portable is right smack bang in the middle of these titles, Phantasy Star Portable 2 goes one step further and makes itself essential by taking things online, although this is spoilt a little by SEGA limiting the servers to you only being able to play with those who have the same region game as you.
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15-09-10
Posted by Duane at 12:51

Valkyira Chronicles was a bit of a sleeper hit outside of Japan for SEGA, it didn't set any charts alight, but has developed a strong following amongst a certain type of gamer, our Ben being one of them. Prior to the release of Valkyria Chronicles 2 I'd always looked upon those enjoying the previous title with a slight sense of envy, pretty much everything points to it being something I'd enjoy, now I've sampled SEGA's handheld turn-based strategy offering, was I right in thinking I'd enjoy it?



Right from the off Valkyria Chronicles 2 is utterly charming in a distinctly Japanese fashion. It simply goes about its business, introducing you to the style of play that it requires you to adopt in order to progress, drip feeding characters and plot and drawing you in with its utterly gorgeous watercolour-esque colour pallete.

Where as Valkyria Chronicles had you fighting on the front lines of the Second European War Valkyria Chronicles 2 places you back at Lanseal Academy two years after the war as new character Avan tries to find out the truth about the death of his brother amidst a rebel uprising. You're expect to take part in training skermishes, inter-class comptetitions and protect Gallia from the Gallian Revolutionary Army who intend to wage an ethnic cleansing campaign aimed at ridding Gallia of anybody of Darcsen descent. Whilst the subject material sounds really rather dark, its handled in a rather odd light hearted manner, theres not too much focus on the politics surrounding the rebellion, instead everything is focused on the students of Lanseal academy and the relationships therein. Where the game falters a little is in that all of the characters it throws at you are little more than well established stereotypes for teenagers within the media, especially for popular Japanese media (the brash, loud, thinks he's funny but he's kind of irritating lead character for example).

Where the game excels though is int he gameplay, as before its all turn based, you still have different classes of soldier and each has their own strengths and weaknesses, there's very little difference here between the two instalments. However due to the nature of the handheld Valkyria Chronicles 2 is on the battle fields are limited in size and split into sections, meaning you can atack a particular area from two different fronts with relative ease or simply focus on one small patch at a time, claiming enemy territory as you progress in order to gain a stronger foothold, its utterly compelling and has an almost arcade "one-more-go" feel to it. Battles are never too long and very rarely too short and its easy to detect when you've made a mistake and how to rectify that on your next turn or by replaying the mission.

Suprisingly, I'd say this is a PSP must-have, seemingly one of a suprising number so far this year and I'm struggling to find time for anything else whilst playing through this. If you own a PSP, you need to own this, its not a matter of wether or not its in a genre you usually play or not, this is simply a must have title for an under appreciated console.
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03-05-10
Posted by Duane at 07:04

The problem with downloadable services, especially those like the Indie Games section on XBLA, or in this case PSP Mini's is that its fairly difficult to get an idea on what is worth your time and what isn't. Okay, so the investment isn't exactly high, but you still want your moneys worth.


So it'd be reasonable to be sceptical about a title such as Monsters (Probably) Stole My Princess, but please, don't hold back. Give this little gem some of your attention, hell your PSP is probably crying out for it. Why should you bother? Well, because what we have here is a simple and unique take on the score attack genre.

At its basic level, and the game is already incredibly basic anyway, Monsters (Probably) Stole My Princess is about amassing as large a score as possible. There's not alot to it, not complicated maneouvres, no learning enemy tactics, its simply hit the jump button to land on the platform and attack the enemy with a series of double jumps. Each level is essentially like the sections in the 2D Castlevania's or Metroids where you have a series of platforms heading vertically up the screen, you give chase to a creature that the lead character, who I assume is Dracula, believes has stolen his princess and the aim is to land three double jumps on the creature before it reaches the top of the screen. Incredibly simple, no?

The way in which the score attack element comes into play is that landing on a platform increases your combo, and thus your score, but landing on the same platform more than once breaks that combo. The higher the combo, the higher the score and through a series of jumps, double jumps and wall jumps you're soon racing up the screen, racking up a combo thats hitting high double figures and amassing a nice high score. Its incredibly basic, yet compelling stuff made all the more enjoyable by the games visual charm not to mention its sense of humour.

You see Dracula has an incredible amount of self confidence, declaring himself amazing and fantastic at any opportunity that the game allows him to speak. This is also replicated in the loading screens, which either ridicule you the player or give "Tips" that actually have no impact on the gameplay itself but add that little moment where you find yourself grinning in amusement and its for this reason that I really reccomend Monsters (Probably) Stole My Princess, well, that and the little twist at the end of the very short Story Mode.
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09-04-10
Posted by Duane at 10:56

Does sticking a game, based around the idea of buying well endowed, computer generated women bikini's in order to beriend them and play volleyball with them become more or less perverted if you stick it on a portable device?


Dead or Alive: Paradise is a difficult thing to tackle, defend it and you look like someone who enjoys spending your time playing a game that seem's to have been developed with the sole purpose of being voyeuristic, attack it and you ignore that behind all of the gelatine like titilation there's actually an enjoyable if fairly basic volleyball and "relationship" game here.

The basic premise of the game is to collect swimsuits and accessories by buying and gifting them between the girls, you choose one girl to play as during your 14 day stay on "Zack Island" and have to befriend another girl in order to play games of volleyball. This is achieved by buying bikini's or accessories and giving them away to the girl you want to befriend as gifts. Each girl has their own tastes in regards to colour and the general skimpiness or style of the "swimwear" so they may not like what you give them. To buy items, you need to win volleyball games to earn money and so the circle continues. There's other distractions like Pond Jumping, which asks you to time a series of button presses precisely in order to jump across floats on the surface of a swimming pool and a photography mode that really does put the emphasis on voyeurism.

In the evenings there's also the option of heading to the casino to play a bit of blackjack, poker or one arm bandits (fnar!), but there's still the inescapable fact that every thing is designed to help you gain more money to buy more swim suits which gradually get racier and racier as you put more hours into the game and repeated visits to the island in order to improve the relationships between all the girls. Its a damn shame that this is the focus, as it was with previous instalments, as beneath it all the volleyball aspect (and collecting if your that way inclined) is rather enjoyable. Playing it is as simple as hitting the Circle button in order to set your team mate up for a smash, or hittin X in order to smash it yourself or send it back over the net if its too risky to try anything else. The camera isn't always helpful as it favours the team serving even though it never actually changes its physical position, this can lead to you misunderstanding the shadow of the ball on the floor or your character appearing off screen when the ball reaches a certain difference. In short it zooms slightly in and out more than it does pan with the action, couple that with slow down when things get a bit visually striking (everyone in different outfits, court being in a visually scenic area, that kind of thing) and its all too easy to lose a match through no fault of your own. Luckily then these problems don't rare their heads too often and games are over pretty quickly. If it wasn't for the nature of the games appearance then it'd provide the perfect amount of entertainment for a train journey or whilst waiting for a bus, as things stand though, I'd be embarrassed to play this away from the comfort of my own house.
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21-09-09
Posted by Duane at 14:26

Howís this for a long game title? ďHoly Invasion of Privacy Badman! What Did I Ever Do To Deserve This?Ē yeah, I thought so, with that in mind I shall be referring to Nippon Ichiís latest PSP title as Badman. So anyway, Badman is one of those games that struggles to fit into a predefined genre, it has various hallmarks of Bullfrogís PC classic Dungeon Keeper, but due to its Old Skool Arcade method stylingís (visually, difficulty and game play wise) it feels like something from the heydays of standing at an Arcade cabinet in some seaside resort in Blackpool, eating up all your change as you try and try again to get further in the game with your one life.



Boiled down to its basic concept, Badman seeís you trying to prevent a demon overlord from being taken hostage by heroes invading the underworld, to do this you have to create a labyrinth by digging out dirt on a 2D field. Certain tiles of dirt have markings on them which allow you to spawn a creature, and through use of these creatures you can transport minerals or mana to into other blocks to make stronger creatures.

However, you do not have direct control over any of the creatures in your lair, they operate on a path cycle meaning you have to manipulate the tunnels in order to create the required pathways to gain the optimum output of minerals and therefore creatures. Sound confusing? Donít worry, it is, at first. Itís only through working through the games numerous tutorial missions, then trying the theory and getting gradually further and unlocking more tutorials that you begin to get the core concept of the game and begin to understand its intricacies and twist your mind round to its way of thinking, unsurprisingly for a Nippon Ichi game itís most certainly not the easiest thing in the world even if it is presented in an incredibly simple manner.

The two largest obstacles that any gamer will have to overcome are, firstly, the games visual style, I wasnít kidding when I said it looked like an old Arcade game, it really does look like something from the late 1980s, secondly the games difficulty level, even when you understand what youíre doing, the random generation of minerals at the start of the game means that no one system will work every time, and once the Overlord is captured, thatís it back to the beginning, itís like an old high-score attack game in this respect. However the game understands the historical feeling it gives the player and plays on that, there are numerous references hidden away that celebrate and mock videogame history in equal manner, sometimes its ham fisted (especially in its mockery of one of the heroes as being a JRPG player) sometimes itís quite subtle.

The problem with Badman is that it most definitely isnít for everyone, but itís really hard to tell if itís for you unless you play it, but its most definitely worth a try if you want something challenging and quirky but that is also sort of easy to just pick up and play on a short journey, I know that Iíve become a fan.
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02-07-09
Posted by Duane at 08:19

Rock Band, it's a bulldozer of a game that just keeps absorbing more and more people and more and more money from further releases and weekly downloadable content. So do we need a portable version? Harmonix and EA say yes we do.



A portable version of "Rock Band" can't work though can it? Surely the purpose of Rock Band is a group of people, packed into a small living room with plastic instruments and making lots of noise? Well, yeah, it kind of is, so with that in mind Rock Band as we know it wouldn't work in a portable form. So instead, Harmonix have gone back to a template they used prior to the first Guitar Hero game, namely the mildly popular cult titles Amplitude and Frequency.

So Rock Band Unplugged is Rock Band in appearance and name, but technially and in terms of how it plays it is well and truly a descendant of Amplitude. You set up your band in the normal manner, and begin a tour, once the song you want to play is selected from there on out things change to what Rock Band fans know and already love. You're immediately presented with four bars, one for each member of the band (from left to right, bass player, drummer, vocalist and guitar player) and you're given a short combination of notes to play for each instrument (I might add not simulatenously), using left, up (both d-pad), triangle and circle you play the notes and upon completion that band member will play itself for a short period of time, allowing you to tap a shoulder button to cycle to another band member to play their instrument and increasing your combo meter. You still have to save a band member if things go awfully wrong by using the Overdrive button (X), which can make things pretty tense as it can take a while to recover completely, if 3 band members require rescuing, the song is failed.

It actually sounds more contrived, complicated and difficult than it really is, but it does provide a genuine, yet fun challenge. However, it doesn't feel like your performing the music, it feels like your the conducter in an orchestra and are instructing each band member as to what they should be doing, which is a very odd feeling considering this is Rock Band and not Orchestral Band.

The tour mode too feels a little odd, you have a handful of cities to choose from to begin with, with 3 songs in each, as you progress you unlock more cities, and therefore more songs, but you also unlock "sets" where you have to play a set number of songs that are either of your choosing, chosen at random or based on a theme depending on the title of the set. This forces you to play through a song numerous times and is actually really helpful in helping you cope with higher difficulty levels as you get used to each set of notes for a specific difficulty. However, it can become incredibly repetetive and tedious when you have to play a song that you're not particularly keen on.

However, this is only really a small niggle, and overall Rock Band Unplugged is as easily addictive as its bigger brothers on the home consoles, with a pair of headphones it lends itself well to portable play, and load times are suprisingly short. The presentation is as high as you'd expect and overall the game is great fun and different enough to what you normally expect from the series to warrant a purchase. Harmonix have once again proven themselves the king of the rhythm action genre.
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15-04-09
Posted by Duane at 09:18

To say I'm a fan of Phantasy Star Online would be a massive understatement, and to say I was slightly dissapointed by 2006's Phantasy Star Universe would be hitting the nail on the head. So you can imagine my suprise when SEGA announced Phantasy Star Portable with some slight changes to the PSU formula that sounded undoubtedly like PSO additions, it sounded like it could actually work. The best thing is, it really does, and it suits the handheld format its now on perfectly.



Phantasy Star Portable takes over where Phantasy Star Universe and its expansion, Ambition of the Illuminus, finished off. Although you need no prior knowledge of those games events in order to enjoy the proceedings here, upon start-up you are asked to create your own character, whom you will control in all modes, from a choice of 4 races, Human (who don't particularly have any strenghts or weaknesses), Newman (best equipped as a Force class), CAST (robot, mostly specialists in ranged combat) and Beast (have powerful physical close range attacks). Before embarking on the story mode.

It's within this mode that you will spend most of your initial time with the game, learning the controls, your prefered style of play, what class to specialise in and unlocking various items that may come in useful when you eventually decide to start focusing on just levelling your character and item hunting. In this respect the game is rather shallow and the story itself is uninspired and dull, but progression through this mode opens up more and more individual missions for you to do as and when you wish.

It's these missions compiled with the gameplay mechanics that make the game perfect handheld fodder as there's nothing more complicated than getting the timing of your button presses dead on in order to unleash the most amount of damage your character is unable to unleash, and with the Free Missions being generally train journey in length (average of about half an hour I'd say) its perfect for picking up and playing as and when the opportunity arises, and if you know upto 4 people with a PSP, have X-Link Kai working or a PS3 with Ad-Hoc Party downloaded from the Japanese PSN store, then it opens up the game even further in a manner in which the game was always intended to be played, its just a huge shame that SEGA, Sonic Team and Alfa System weren't able to bring in a proper, dedicated online mode, for that you'll have to wait for Phantasy Star Zero (which looks more PSO like than Phantasy Star Portable) no the DS later in the year.
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Playstation Portable Review