Christmas is coming, and that means it's time for you to start thinking about what sorts of gifts you want to give and get this year.
Apple has had it's turn with the iPhone and iPad Gift Guides; now it's time for the dedicated portable gaming machines to have their say, starting with Sony's PSP. It wasn't a particularly fruitful year for the handheld, but there was definitely a nice selection of stand-out titles.
Here's our take on the 10 best PSP games to give and get for 2010. Hope you enjoy the list. Feel free to add your own recommendations in comments.
BlazBlue: Calamity Trigger Portable
Rating: Teen Genre: Fighting Ideal Player: Gamers looking for a portable 2D fighter that breaks the Street Fighter mould. What's It About? Two fighters enter, one fighter leaves. BlazBlue: Calamity Trigger Portable pits 12 colourful combatants against each other as they battle over control of a powerful weapon. It's a plot you've seen before, but the gameplay is unique in the world of 2D fighters, with nuanced controls that favour skill over luck. Drizzled with wit and humour, BlazBlue is as charming as it is challenging.
Bang For Your Buck:
The game includes all 12 characters from the console version, four-player local multiplayer battles, a shop mode where artwork can be unlocked, and the all-new Legion Mode, in which the player assembles a party of characters and takes on the world.
Fat Princess: Fistful of Cake
Rating: Teen Genre: Action Strategy Ideal Player: Players who crave online multiplayer battles that don't involve looking down the barrel of a gun. What's It About? Two teams of colourful cartoon combatants fight to rescue their princess from the enemy base. The problem is the enemy is feeding your princess plenty of cake, and each slice passing her royal mouth makes carrying her to safety more difficult. Don the hat of one of five fantasy character classes and take the battle to your foes, online or off. Bang For Your Buck: This PSP version of the PlayStation Network hit features 17 different multiplayer maps, four unique new game types and an enhanced singleplayer story mode to help teach players the ropes. With both local and internet multiplayer, a little competition is always within reach.
God of War: Ghost of Sparta
Rating: Mature Genre: Action Adventure Ideal Player: Fans of Greek mythology, fans of killing Greek mythology, and generally anyone who enjoys killing things in a spectacular fashion. What's It About? The spectacular God of War series returns to the PSP, with all of its vengeful, brooding brutality intact. Restless on his throne as the God of War, legendary badass Kratos sets forth on a quest to explore his origins. As always, the gods and monsters of Greek mythology stand in his way, and anything that stands in Kratos' way doesn't stay in one piece for long. Bang For Your Buck: Along with a lengthy adventure mode packed with upgradeable combat skills, magical attacks, and legendary artifacts, Ghost of Sparta contains a slew of unlockable challenges and a combat arena that lets players test their skills against customised groups of enemies. Read our full review
Rating: Everyone 10 and Up Genre: Augmented Reality Role-Playing Ideal Player: Pokemon fans looking for something a little different, and folks who think augmented reality is the bee's knees. Like Pokemon, Invizimals has the player collecting monsters and pitting them against each other in battles for fame and experience points. Instead of wandering around a pixellated landscape to find your monsters, however, Invizimals uses a bundled PSP camera to project colorful creatures into the real world. Using colour cues players discover new Invizimal species, capture them via mini-game, and then evolve them through battles projected over what the PSP camera sees. It's a gimmick, but it's an entertaining one. Bang For Your Buck: There are 150 Invizimals to collect, a cheesy story to play through complete with live-action video cutscenes and online multiplayer battles to be had.
Kingdom Hearts: Birth by Sleep
Rating: Teen Genre: Action Role-Playing Ideal Player: Anyone who thinks combining Final Fantasy-style action role-playing and Disney characters is a good idea. What's It About? Birth by Sleep is a prequel that sets the stage for Square Enix's beloved Final Fantasy meets Disney console series. A trio of heroes battle their way through classics Disney properties to save the Princesses of Heart from the threat of the Unversed. Along the way players will experience events that lead directly into the story for the original PlayStation 2 hit Kingdom Hearts, all the while developing new skills and growing in power courtesy of a deep character development system. Bang For Your Buck: Kingdom Hearts: Birth By Sleep features three separate storylines, one for each of the game's three heroes, along with a slew of minigames playable either alone or with friends. Read our full review.
Metal Gear Solid: Peace Walker
Rating: Mature Genre: Stealth Action Ideal Player: Fans of military espionage novels, players that would rather sneak past enemies than open fire, and anyone looking for a game that showcases the PSP's power to its fullest. What's It About? Ten years after the events of Metal Gear Solid 3: snake Eater, Naked Snake is deployed to Costa Rica to uncover the secrets behind a mysterious military group armed with advanced weapons in the form of Peace Sentinels. Players can sneak and shoot their way through this epic tale either alone or online with friends, with up to four Snakes teaming up at one time to take down the game's challenging bosses. Bang For Your Buck: Peace Walker is one beefy portable game. Along with a lengthy story campaign, the game also includes 128 Extra Ops challenges and a Versus Ops online multiplayer component. Read our full review
Shin Megami Tensei: Persona 3 Portable
Rating: Mature Genre: Role-Playing Ideal Player: Japanese role-playing game fans everywhere. What's It About? A group of Japanese high school students spend their days learning, shopping and forming relationships, and their nights doing battle in a shadow-infested tower that can only be accessed during the space between one day and the next. The students summon forth powerful Personas from within their hearts by shooting themselves in the head. Needless to say it's a little quirky. Bang For Your Buck: The PSP version of Persona 3 packs all the action and adventure of the original PlayStation 2 release into portable form, while adding a new female protagonist that changes the way the story plays out.
SOCOM: US Navy SEALs Fireteam Bravo 3
Rating: Teen Genre: Third-Person Shooter Ideal Player: People that enjoy guns and the shooting of those guns at other people. What's It About? In the singleplayer story mode, the player leads a SEAL team on a covert mission to uncover a plot regarding a potential WMD attack on the United States, uncovering a plot much deeper than initially suspected. The game is light on story and single-player substance, but big on online multiplayer combat, with game modifiers and options on par with some console mutiplayer shooters. Bang For Your Buck: SOCOM: US Navy SEALs Fireteam Bravo 3 features more than 70 different modifiable weapons, cooperative multiplayer for four players and tons of competitive online multiplayer. Read our full review
Valkyria Chronicles II
Rating: Teen Genre: Tactical Role-Playing Ideal Player: Players looking for a deep strategic experience on the PSP, and of course fans of it's PlayStation 3 predecessor. What's It About? Cadets from the Gallia's Lancir Military Academy band together to save their country from the rebel Gallian Revolutionary Army. Players customise their army and deploy them in strategic turn-based battles against enemy forces. The game's BLiTZ (Battle of Live Tactical Zones) battle system zooms in from a tactical overhead view to a third-person view, putting players directly in the heat of battle. Bang For Your Buck: Valkyria Chronicles features more than 200 singleplayer missions, along with local multiplayer in both cooperative and combative flavours.
Z.H.P. Unlosing Ranger vs Darkdeath Evilman
Rating: Teen Genre: Action Role-Playing Ideal Player: Hardcore rogue-like role-playing game fans with no qualms about dying on a regular basis in order to get the job done. What's It About? In Zettai Hero Project, you are going to die, but it's OK: You'll get better. After being given a magical transformation belt from a dying hero, the player becomes the Absolute Victory Unlosing Ranger and then fails to live up to that name time and time again. Battle your way through a training facility to hone your skills, gathering the experience points and equipment needed to take on the final boss. If you die you start over, gaining more and more power on your way to the final confrontation. Z.H.P. tempers its brutality with quirky Japanese charm and self-referential humour. Bang For Your Buck: This is an enormous game filled with plenty of customisation options. Create your own secret lair! customise your superhero theme song based on what you're wearing! It's almost ridiculous.