Ubisoft Inc.
The puzzle game "Lumines" for the PSP
By Columnist
msnbc.com
updated 3/25/2005 4:05:10 PM ET 2005-03-25T21:05:10

PlayStation 2 remakes, particularly sport remakes, dominate the the library of available titles for the Sony PSP. While the majority of the games don't scream "originality" when compared against the suite of titles available for the Nintendo DS, the PSP's main competition, most boast exceptional graphics and wireless play.

Over the last few days, I've had the chance to fire up fourteen games now available for the PSP. The five titles from Electronic Arts were reviewed in preview versions:

"FIFA 2005" and "World Tour Soccer"
Electronic Arts and 989 Sports
Number of players: 1-2
Grade: B+
Tiny pixels on parade! Translating soccer (or fine, football) has been a challenge for consoles so it was probably hoping for too much to have a PSP version that did not reduce the "beautiful game" to an interactive ant farm. "FIFA 2005" nevertheless scores a goal with excellent commentary and both games deserve an "Ole! Ole!" for an encyclopedic offering of international leagues and teams. Rated "E for Everyone."

989 Sports

"Gretzky NHL"
989 Sports
Number of players: 1-2
Grade: B-
Solid effort on graphics, but the animation -- or frame-rate -- seems more suited for zamboni racing than sport that prides itself on speed and quick-second decisions.  Rated "E for Everyone."

"Lumines"
UbiSoft
Number of players: 1-2
Grade: A-
Who would have guessed that the best game for the Sony PSP is a plain old puzzle game?  Techno beats, wireframe graphics and addictive puzzles meld into an experience that will have PSP-lugging commuters missing their bus stops for months to come.  Rated "E for Everyone."

Konami

"Metal Gear Acid"
Konami
Number of players: 1-2
Grade: B+
I almost spilt my coffee when I discovered that the PSP version of "Metal Gear" turned a stealth-action thriller into a turn-based card game where every action, from walking to shooting, is controlled by the cards in your deck. Surprise, the genre-switcheroo works. Cards introduce a strategic challenge and besides, the game looks great.  Rated "M for Mature."

"MVP Baseball"
Electronic Arts
Number of players: 1-4
Grade: B+
Sony's proprietary optical storage disc, the Universal Media Disc, works hard to deliver the same customization and the same obsession with baseball statistics we expect from the console version. As in "Tiger Woods" the PSP wide-screen format works well in relaying depth and expanse without reducing the characters into pixilated stumps. Rated "E for Everyone."

"NBA"
989 Sports
Number of players: 1-2
Grade: C
Tiny players. Slow game play. And none of the NBA magic. "NBA" shoots a brick. Rated "E for Everyone."

"Need for Speed: Underground Rivals"
Electronic Arts
Number of players: 1-4
Grade: B
Yet another Electronic Arts console port to the PSP, "Need for Speed" brightens up the urban race tracks a bit to facilitate the move to the smaller PSP screen but otherwise the sights, sounds and car tweaker screens are the same. Rated "E for Everyone."

Electronic Arts

"NFL Street 2: Unleashed"and "NBA Street Showdown"
Electronic Arts
Number of players: 1-4
Grade: B+
Electronic Arts's "street" franchises go shrinky-dink for the PSP. In comparing the preview versions, "NBA Street Showdown" looks like the sharper title with the PSP's wide screen complementing the shape and width of the basketball courts.  Both titles feature the usual roster of pro-teams, over-the-top moves and sassy back talk. Rated "E for Everyone."

"Spider-Man 2"
Activision
Number of players: 1
Grade: B
Last summer's console action-adventure has been shrink-wrapped for the PSP with smaller levels, a less-then open-ended playing environment and occasionally clunky control. New York City's skyline looks pretty nice on the PSP, but the lack of a multiplayer option means you can't share Hell's Kitchen with the one you love. Rated "T for Teen."


"Tiger Woods PGA Tour"
Electronic Arts
Number of players: 1-4
Grade: A-
Playing the preview version of "Tiger Woods" on the PSP is more of a thrill than on the PS2. Seriously. The PSP's wide-screen is used to maximum effect to take in the tiny greens.   "Tiger Woods" includes commentary and a ton of personalization including the return of Game Face, the custom player creation tool that allows players to design characters right down to the size of their eyebrows. Rated "E for Everyone."

Activision

"Tony Hawk's Underground 2 Remix"
Activision
Number of players: 1-4
Grade: A-
The PSP game features the same cartoon-like graphics, the same music and the same attitude as the console original.  In other words, "Tony Hawk" looks and feels "suhweet!"
Like the original,  players get to travel the world unlocking tricks and annoying the locals. The PSP version features the same character and skate park customization and goes one further:  Players can add their own mug to their in-game character courtesy of the PSP's image importer. Rated "T for Teen."

"Twisted Metal: Head On"
Incognito Entertainment
Number of players: 1-6
Grade: A-
Pick your vehicle and urban battlefield than go at it in a no-holds barred race to the death.  "Twisted Metal" is your most basic of titles, a PlayStation 2 remake where players drive around in rocket-loaded cars looking for trouble. What the game lacks in originality, it makes up in playability especially when PSP owners go wireless in head-to-head battle. Tasteless fun.  Rated "T for Teen."

"Wipeout Pure"

Sony Entertainment
Sony Entertainment
Number of players: 1-8
Grade: B+
Eye candy ... and that's a good thing!  Race through futuristic urban settings to driving techno music.  The illusion of movement will have players twisting their bodies into the turns (and later popping doses of Dramamine).  Rated "E for Everyone."

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