PSN Mini Round Up

The All Conquering Network!

  • Format: PSN
  • Unleashed: Out Now
  • Publisher: various
  • Developer: various
  • Players: 1
  • Site: http://uk.playstation.com/ps3/games/

For those of you who still have a PSP, still use it and regularly connect to the PSN, we thought it might be nice to a do a general roundup of some of the Mini titles which have been released since the service began.

For the uninitiated the Minis are small games which are normally singleplayer only, lacking in network play, and are ‘cheap’. If we lived in a world where only Nintendo or Sony existed then they would be cheap against their £7-£23 AAA cousins; but in a world of Android and Apple, cheap is really a word which would be best left out of any description relating to PSN Minis. Prices range from around £1 up to £4-£5. Most hover around the £2-£3 mark and those games which are also on Ios or Android are almost always at least £1-£2 more on the Sony PSN store. Additionally, as previously mentioned, they also lack network play. This despite only being available to people who are able to access the PSN, the PlayStation Network. Go figure….

Incidentally all Minis can also be played on your PS3. We are yet to work out why you might want to do this. The graphics look awful on a large HD television, and if you do have a PS3, you must have a game or two which is better. Still, at least this ability allows us to feel that we can get more value from the purchase. Somehow.

A Space Shooter for 2 Bucks

Interestingly, in the UK this game is not 2 bucks, but £1.74 which is almost great value. On the iphone though it would probably be 79p. It’s a top down scrolling game with great production values – full speech, a range of music, great artwork and some old fashioned top down shooter action. It plays reasonably well, but the ‘drift’ on your craft might take getting used to for some. The only real criticism is that the space background, which is lovely to look at sometimes, makes it hard to see the enemy bullets coming towards you. If you love space shooters, this is not a bad purchase; but if you were never into the genre there is no need to look here.

7/10

Looks VERY pretty for a Mini, even for a full blown PSN title. But if they had released it NOT as a Mini, but as a cheap PSN title (£4 is more than most or all minis) then they could have included network play!

NOVA, Near Orbital Vanguard Alliance

This one costs around £4 and is an FPS. At first you think, ‘wow an FPS for £4!’. That is, until you find the same game on Ios for less money, and with network play. Still, what is the PSN version like? Well it’s a clear Halo clone, without the AI. To be honest it is not all that bad, and at £2 we would have no problem recommending it. However it’s not £2. It looks pretty and the control scheme is not bad considering the problem is with the PSP design and not the game. For sure the gameplay is repetitive and the AI stinks, but the game has regular save points – so if you want a ‘stop-start’ FPS this is a good game to get if you can stomach being ripped off from a value for money perspective.

6/10

Echo, Echo, echo, e-c-h-o......

Echos

Echos is a great game. It’s designed for the PSP through and through. Imagine a maze like Pac Man, but far more organic, and also imagine you are a small circle/blob and you have to move and collect coloured crystals. As you collect them other blobs start moving around the maze in a random manner and you have to avoid them, whilst trying to get ‘x’ number of crystals. There is an arcade mode, time mode and other modes where the game adds neat little gimmicks (slowing down time, the ability to destroy other blobs etc). This is a great time waster and we think it’s one of the better Minis out there.

8/10

Aero Racer

Its a top down, Super Sprint version of Wipeout with a cool gameplay dynamic. You control a type of hovercraft and you fly by aiming your engine at an angle to the course wall. The craft, an anti grav concept, pushes away from the wall and hence accelerates. In effect this makes the game a drift racer!

If that sounds complicated, then we can confirm it’s very complicated to play in that it requires real concentration whilst racing! It is a good game, with good replay value, but its one you need to be prepared to spend time on, otherwise it’ll be a wasted purchase. It’s certainly not a pick up and play, ‘throw away’ game.

7/10

Beam Me Up

This is another great Mini, in that it plays well with the PSP controls, being what they are. You control a spaceship and you have to capture a number of different species of alien creature. On each level you have a quota of how many you need to ‘beam up’ and quite literally you need to move the ship above the aliens and ‘beam’ them into your ship. All of this has to be done whilst avoiding the oncoming missiles and bullets. Its great pick up and play action, well suited to the format (and hence the controls) and worth downloading.

7/10

Field Runners: A game that allows you to pause and pick up where you left off. Ideal for portable play - should be mandatory in all Minis. Strangely enough, it's not and there are other great tower defence games on the system lacking this crucial feature!

Field Runners

A superb tower defence game. This works perfectly on the PSP, and you can stop and save the game at any point. It’s perfect except that it’s much cheaper on the Ios Platform, which makes you feel like you’re being ripped off as a PSP user. The game itself has a good range of enemies and defence mechanisms, the graphics are clear and bright, and it is perfect ‘Mini’ fodder. An example, though, of how ‘off’ the Mini pricing regime has been from day one of the service’s launch.

7/10

Pure carnage - this is such a blast! No pun intended. I think.

Age of Zombies

We like this, in fact we like this a lot! A top down cartoon shooter where you shoot tons of zombies in 360 degree scrolling maps. The zombies are themed based upon the setting (you move throughout time), but the actual zombie ‘classes’ themselves are generally the same. The game has proper end of level bosses and some superb weapon upgrades. Once you have completed the game, you can replay the levels for high scores. Recently launched on Ios, this plays better on the PSP due to the physical analogue nub.

9/10

Blast Off

Take puzzle games and Asteroid and the result will be Blast Off. It’s so simple, yet at times so complicated. You control a tiny spaceship and you have to collect wee spacemen stuck in outer space. Often they are floating near planets and other objects, each with their own gravity ‘sphere of influence’. Hence the aim of the game is to pick up the astronauts without being pulled into a plant, black hole or moon. Very addictive, but with each level being a small concern in itself – hence, as with some of the other games here, a good ‘Mini’ gaming experience.

8/10

Freekscape looks very nice on the wee PSP screen. Not so much on an HD tv.

Freekscape:Escape from Hell

A great looking, inventive platform game where you play a demon escaping hell. The game is a pure platformer with a clever game mechanic, in that you use the enemies themselves to help you get from one platform to another. In some cases you have to goad creatures on to ram your butt with their horns to propel you over large gaps, for example.

The production values for this game are quite high and it feels like a quality, meaty production. The Mini platform, along with the PSP controls, seem ideal for platform games and this is confirmed when playing Freekscape. Certainly worth a download, if you want a mixture of platforming and puzzling combined.

8/10

Sony have a good base with the Minis, and we predict that with their soon to be released Sony Ericsson PS phone and the eventual release of the high powered PSP2 they will take the Mini platform further, making them work on both devices (leaving AAA titles to the PSP2 only). If they are to do this, they need to the following though:

  • Change the pricing
  • Perhaps offer bulk buy deals (something they literally just started doing as we wrote this)
  • Off network support, at the very least online leaderboards, with the games supporting PSN IDs and trophies etc.

We don’t mind if there are less Minis than Ios apps, as in some ways it will mean the Minis are the best of the indie apps; but they need to release more per week, not just 2-4. If you have a PSP, still use it, indulge yourself in a few titles, it’s a cheap way of breathing life back into the machine at a relatively cheap price.

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Written by Steven G

Steven Gurevitz is the CEO of 2002 Studios Media LTD and a founder of gaming accessory company Asiiya. 2002 Studios started off as a music production company, but produces a range of content from videos to videogames. The company specialises in localizing content for global brands. He also owns the Urban Sound Label, a small niche e-label. He is a freelance music tech writer, having co-written the Music Technology Workbook and is a regular contributor and co-owner CriticalGamer.co.uk. He enjoys FPS, Third person 'free world', narrative driven and portable gaming. He is a freelance music tech writer, having co-written the Music Technology Workbook and is a regular contributor to CriticalGamer.co.uk.

One comment

  1. KrazyFace /

    Good round-up there. In you’re introduction you said you didn’t see the point of being able to play minis on the PS3. Well, I see a reason; if you don’t wanna take up too much space (or have limited) on your PSP’s stick, then being able to stream the game from the PS3 to PSP via remote play is a good solution to this. Although it means the mini in question isn’t all that portable, but you can swap them around as you require.

    Just a thought!

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