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PSP Fanboy review: Buzz! Master Quiz

Have you ever seen the game show Temptation? Probably not. It's a game show with an incredibly low budget -- so low, in fact, it doesn't have a studio audience. Prizes are worth only a few thousand bucks at best, and it's syndicated on stations that used to be the UPN. If Buzz! Quiz TV on PS3 is "Who Wants to be a Millionaire?" then Buzz! Master Quiz on PSP is "Temptation."

Unfortunately, PSP isn't very well suited for a Buzz! game. The franchise is best in front of a television with three of your friends. However, Master Quiz simply can't offer the same kind of competitive spirit, especially on a system like the PSP. It's not to say the developers at Relentless Software didn't try -- there are a number of creative multiplayer modes included. However, they're ultimately unsuccessful in emulating a fun Buzz! experience.

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PSP Fanboy review: Yggdra Union

This used to be a GBA game? That's what you'll think to yourself after only a few hours with Yggdra Union. While the map sprites are taken directly from the GBA original, everything else about this PSP remake shows incredible polish. The redrawn high-res sprites used in battle and story sequences look sharp on the PSP screen. But what really steals the show, on a technical level, is the impressive amount of voice acting. Nearly every important story sequence is voiced in both English and Japanese, which makes for a really immersive experience.

Of course, a game needs to do more than look and sound pretty to be good -- and thankfully, Yggdra Union offers tons of gameplay. In fact, it may offer too much with an adventure that clocks in at about 30 hours. The lengthy story is far from original, but a growing cast of likable characters and a few nice plot twists make it an enjoyable adventure that kept me chugging through the lengthy story.

At its heart, Yggdra Union is an epic about underdogs that overthrow an empire. Your starting cast of a group of bandits and an exiled princess is severely outnumbered in an obviously one-sided battle. As such, players shouldn't expect a cakewalk through the game. Yggdra Union can be a relentless difficult game at times, so much so to the point of frustration. However, the challenge only emphasizes how important a solid strategy is when approaching each situation. Players must understand the importance of character placement and card selection -- a single error can lead to game over. However, the game's greatest hook comes from the exuberant ability to seize victory in a rather dire situation. Each battle is hard fought and incredibly rewarding.

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PSP Fanboy review: N+

Beneath its simple exterior lies a cruel, sadistic gaming beast. N+ is known for its brutally simple, addictive, ninja-inspired platforming. The goal of the game is ridiculously simple: get to the exit. However, each level in this challenging title will test your nerve and will push you to that strange land where frustration and euphoria meet.

There are a number of obstacles that can get in your way -- all of them deadly. Whether it be explosive mines, homing missiles, or heat-seaking lasers, death lurks in almost every inch of N+. The combination of clever level designs and obstacle placements make each level like a puzzle: players must think of interesting ways to get to the goal. Players will be able to perform incredible feats of acrobatics, bouncing off walls, racing past rockets, and jumping past deadly lasers. Players must learn how momentum works, as many of the levels require pixel-perfect jumps.

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PSP Fanboy review: Secret Agent Clank

What went wrong? After an excellent first outing on PSP, High Impact Games has created a follow-up to Ratchet & Clank: Size Matters that's worse in almost every single aspect. Everything, from the presentation to the graphics to the core gameplay, has been downgraded in this PSP-exclusive. Could this be PSP's biggest software disappointment of the year?

The premise of Secret Agent Clank is quite intriguing. Inexplicably, Ratchet has broken into a museum and has stolen the universe's largest diamond. But what's his intent? Secret Agent Clank is sent on the case. The experience of playing as Clank is similar to Ratchet, but there's a greater emphasis on stealth and gadgetry. Busting out the big guns simply won't work with Ratchet's diminuitive friend.

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PSP Fanboy review: Hot Shots Golf Open Tee 2

It's not easy reviewing Hot Shots Golf. Why? It's not because it's particularly bad -- no, in fact, the game is quite good. The franchise has a long legacy of high quality titles that date back to the PS1 era. However, how does one explain the merits of a game that has so subtly changed? Each iteration adds a bit more functionality, and refines the gameplay. However, the core mechanics have remained largely unchanged for a decade.

Open Tee 2 expands upon the original Open Tee game by adding more courses, more customization options and the biggest selling factor, online Infrastructure gameplay. For those that are familiar with the franchise, these additions may be enough to warrant another purchase. However, those that want more than the series' traditional 3-click swing mechanic have no reason to upgrade from the already-excellent original Open Tee.

Gallery: Hot Shots Golf: Open Tee 2

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PSP Fanboy review: Warriors Orochi

What can we say? Koei likes their Warriors formula. There's something different about Warriors Orochi though. Even though we've sifted through similar games, nay, almost identical games in the past, this title stands out. Perhaps it's the fact it's not lifted from the pages of history. Perhaps it's the sheer size of the character roster. Maybe we were just bored. Still, for Warriors fans, Warriors Orochi is the best of the franchise on the PSP, but everyone else will find the game repetitive and just like the others.

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PSP Fanboy review: FlatOut: Head On

It might look like Burnout, and even play like Burnout. But, Burnout it ain't. Head On lacks the refinement, speed and fun of Criterion's critically acclaimed franchise. Instead of solidifying its core gameplay, Head On relies on gimmicky mini-games that offer a thin veil to distract the game's ultimate shortcomings.

At first, we were impressed by the trailers released for the title. However, we're sad to admit that Head On falls short of the visual fidelity found in its initial videos. Textures and environments are muddy, but even worse: the framerate suffers quite a bit through the experience. For a racing game, this is rather unacceptable. The questionable physics and grip of the cars does little but detract from a game that touts its destructible environments.

Gallery: FlatOut: Head On

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PSP Fanboy review: Wild ARMs XF

The western-themed RPG franchise finally hits the PSP with their strategy title, Wild ARMs XF (crossfire). Throughout the franchise's history, they've battled lukewarm reviews, netting them the title of a catch-all RPG. Traditional, but different. Easy, accessible, and more or less for everyone. However, the titles have garnered a cult following, where they yearn to traverse Filgaia once again and explore its barren desert exterior. It seems the folk over at Media.Vision and Sony have been secretly working on this title for a long time, plotting to destroy everything you know about Wild ARMs, but keeping everything as familiar as possible. The result? Pure genius.

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PSP Fanboy review: flOw

The best-selling PSN title will be available on the PSP tomorrow. This experimental title received a lot of attention when it sailed to the PS3 due to its unique style and premise. Less of a "game" and more of an "experience," players titled their SIXAXIS controllers to guide an ever-growing creature through a series of primordial stages. Players would consume other creatures along the way, expanding in size and capability.

flOw is a rather accurate recreation of the PS3 title -- an impressive feat, considering the reduced processing capabilities of the handheld. Just like the PSN original, flOw will look and feel unlike anything else on the system. However, those that have played the original will find little reason to revisit the title, and many may find the technical shortcomings of this SuperVillian-developed effort to be an ebb to an otherwise engrossing experience.

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PSP Fanboy review: God of War: Chains of Olympus

The life of Kratos may have been one long Greek tragedy after the next, but the God of War series and the success it reaps is anything but tragic. To call it so would be blasphemous to the gods, for each game in the action-packed series has never failed to impress. As the latest entry in the series, God of War: Chains of Olympus has a lot of to live up to; do the gods continue their blessings? They most certainly do.

The stuff that comes out of every game in the series has always been top notch, and Ready at Dawn's Chains of Olympus is no exception. The hard work put into Chains of Olympus makes us wonder if the developers themselves adhere to the hardened Spartan culture that they so skillfully instilled in Kratos. Like the strictly disciplined Spartans, do these developers kill off straggling animators, modelers, and ilk if production standards are sub par? We only jest of course, but their skill in game design is so analogous to Sparta's warriors it's hard not to try and draw parallels.

Gallery: God of War: Chains of Olympus

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PSP Fanboy review: Patapon

If there is one genre that has really flourished on the PSP, it would be rhythm games. Titles like Lumines, beats, Parappa the Rapper, and Gitaroo Man have made Sony's handheld a must-have for any fans of the rhythm genre. And while all those games were fantastic titles, Pyramid's most recent PSP title, Patapon, manages to blows them all away with some of the most unique rhythm-based gameplay you'll ever experience.

Combining gameplay from a wide swath of genres, developers Pyramid managed to create a game that is part rhythm-based, part RPG, and part RTS. It's not always easy for developers to successfully combine genres to create a greater whole, but Pyramid absolutely nailed it with Patapon. The resulting gameplay makes Patapon one of the most unique titles to come along in years, on any system -- not just the PSP.

You play the roll of a long missing deity to a tribe of big-eyed warriors, called Patapons, who have been banished from their land and have lost the will to fight. In order to help the Patapons regain their former glory and achieve their final hope of seeing the mysterious 'it' at the end of the world, they need you and your mighty war drums to whip them into shape and get them motivated for some serious combat.

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PSP Fanboy review: Need for Speed ProStreet

Like most EA franchises, the Need for Speed series has been quite prolific over the years. Through the franchise history, the franchise has donned a number of styles, never quite a quality that makes it distinctly unique. ProStreet focuses much more on the "Pro" side of things, losing the very urban street-based attitude it has featured over the last few iterations. Players will collect and tune cars, and will partake in a number of professional circuits from throughout the world.

The offering is pretty standard-fare, but should more than satiate the basic needs of the car enthusiast. The career mode has players completing various challenges in each course. Many trials involve crossing the finish line first. However, there are a couple of modes that keep things interesting. There's Speed Trap, which has players attempting to reach the highest speeds possible at each checkpoint. There's no need to be in first: rather, players must smartly approach each gate in a way that'll allow them to get the highest speed. Sometimes, that means cutting corners, or taking turns in rather unconventional ways. It's an interesting mode that takes advantage of a different kind of strategy.

Gallery: Need for Speed: ProStreet

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PSP Fanboy review: Wipeout Pulse

Wipeout Pure remains, to this day, one of the top rated PSP games of all time. And for good reason, too. When it debuted with the PSP launch, it delivered unparalleled graphics, tons of content, and a huge assortment of downloadable content that made Pure a great value for any racing fan.

Nearly three years later, Studio Liverpool finally returns to PSP with the next installment of the Wipeout franchise. Wipeout Pulse attempts to do the impossible: improve upon the formula they created with Pure. Undeniably, they have succeeded.

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PSP Fanboy review: Go! Puzzle

Note: All screenshots are taken from the PS3 version of the game. Visual differences between the PSP and PS3 version are minimal.

Go! Puzzle is an excellent addition to the PLAYSTATION Store and best exemplifies the kind of content we'd like to see through digital distribution in the future. Although the game is a direct port of a PS3 title, the pick-up-and-play puzzle gameplay of Go! Puzzle is a much more obvious fit with the handheld. At $5.99 for three puzzle games, Go! Puzzle is an excellent value.

When launcing Go! Puzzle off of the Memory Stick, players are greeted to a menu where they must select one of the three games available. Each game has its own menu and interface, making each game feel rather distinct from the other.

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PSP Fanboy review: Downstream Panic!

Don't let its saccharin sweet exterior fool you. Downstream Panic! is one hardcore, ****ing difficult game. The colorful LocoRoco-esque presentation will easily trick gamers into thinking this is for kids. However, when you see your fish friends explode in an amazing display of blood and guts, you will think again.

The basic gameplay of Downstream Panic! is simple to grasp, and the game does a terrific job of teaching players the core essentials throughout the game. Like any good puzzle game, the game is easy to learn, but hard to master. Like in Lemmings, players must use the various tools at their disposal to safely create a path for the adorably helpless fish. Players will have access to bombs, spears, growing plants, and more in an effort to safely navigate the shark-infested, trap-riddled world of Downstream Panic!

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