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2007 Holiday PSP Must Haves

This holiday season give the gamer on your list a truly great game. Below I’ve compiled a list of the best PSP games out there, my opinion of course. Each of these games have hit the market this year, 2007. The PSP is starting to hit its stride with not only original games, but revamped ports of games from yesteryear. The price point on these games is also pretty easy on the old pocket books. I will say this up front, I love story. Chris Claremont got me into comics back in the 80′s with his work on X-Men while Richard A. Knaak introduced me to the world of DragonLance with Legend of Huma (also made into a comic). That influence, the love of story flows into the games I’m touching on. There are no sports titles and only one puzzle game. Every game here has a story, one worthy of the printed page, ones to be enjoyed by fans of fantasy and sci-fi alike. Check out the games below, watch some video, read some reviews.

Happy Holidays, it’s going to be one hell of a PSP X-Mas (or whatever denomination and such you celebrate) …

Final Fantasy Tactics: War of the Lions – Square Enix
What is it? The War of the Lions, an epic story tied to Square Enix Ivalice Alliance games (FFXIII, FFXII: Revenant Wings). The story of the forgotten hero Ramza Beoulve unfolds in a politically charged tale where family and country is torn asunder as the rightful heir to the throne is fought over. The action unfolds on the PSP battlefield as the classic strategy role-playing game is revitalized for a new generation. Originally released on the PlayStation with treatment on the Game Boy Final Fantasy Tactics has been revamped, filled with new content and fully realized as not just an update, a port, but a gaming experience that crosses console generations to shine as it’s always done. What FFT on PSP is, is a truly memorable gaming experience not to be missed.
Why should you care?
It’s a true classic, and outstanding gaming experience with over 100 hours of gameplay, a deep and engaging story, brilliant character design and a franchise (Final Fantasy) and developer (Square Enix) always associated with excellence in RPG’ing. Recreated in 16:9 widescreen with never before seen cut scenes, a score by Hitoshi Sakimoto and Masaharu Iwata as well as added character classes, not much more to add.
Who will want it?
Anyone who missed the boat on the original PlayStation version it it’s iterations on Game Boy. This is one deep strategy game with great character design. If you consider yourself a serious gamer, have ever been interested in strategy or role-playing you cannot pass on this gem, a truly outstanding game that stands the test of time. So who should want it, PSP owners that’s who. For you real die-hard fans, check out the miniature figures based on the character design of Akihiko Yoshida’s design, whose illustrations have been recreated in game.

Castlevania: The Dracula X Chronicles – Konami
What is it? The only unreleased in the US Castlevania left in the gaming world. The Dracula X Chronicles gives US gamers their first true crack at Rondo of Blood, rebuild with 3-D’ish graphics and gameplay to die for. This fact online warrants purchase but the un-lockable original Rondo and Castlevania: Symphony of the Night make this the most attractive game on the list, hands down.
Why should you care? Classic series like Castlevania are not to be missed, from their GBA titles to DS to original, un-released content such as The Dracula X Chronicles. Unlike quick, rehash remakes that have flooded portable systems Konami has released a true gem, a piece of gaming yesteryear that will challenge gamers and take you back to a time when gameplay was truly king.
Who will want it? Any gamer who ever picked up a 2-D side-scrolling game, and old-school Metroid, Mario … hell anyone who had PlayStation. There have been remakes before, Ghost n’ Goblins for example, but the sheer power of the un-lockable Symphony of the Night makes this UMD stand out. Symphony as a download on the big-brother next-gen’s is going for like $5 a pop, that’s good value.

Jeanne D’Arc – SCEA
What is it? The Dark Horse, the out of left field game that slugged me in the stomach and left me wanting more. Based, very loosely, on the life of Joan of Arc, Sony as crafted a strategy role-playing game that makes the French good-guys, the English collaborate with demons and orcs and populates the world with elves, dwarves and man-beast. The mixture of fantasy and history works very well, and gamers will get assimilated very quickly as the action ramps up with minimal tutorials. This is solid strategy role-playing action that will please the hardcore gamer, but is easy enough for newbies to the genre to pick up and get into.
Why should you care? Solid gameplay and an interesting story that clocks in around 40-45 hours. You won’t pass any history test by playing, same as when you watched 300, but like 300 you will be satisfied with an engaging storyline, fun gameplay and anime style cut-scenes that could stand as their own series. In a market that’s giving very few original titles Jeanne D’Arc is one not to be passed up.
Who will want it? Role-playing fans need apply, and anyone on the fence. If you’re a gamer who’s ever wanted to get into role-playing pick up this game. The menus are easy to navigate, the gameplay fun, it’s just a great way to get into the genre, and a great escape on trips or just sitting in bed.

Disgaea: Afternoon of Darkness – NIS America
What is it? It’s strange, funny, twisted and all around fun. Disgaea delivers one of the best strategy role-playing experiences on any system and shrinks it down for the PSP. This is a port of the PS2 original with a new Etna quest added in. Most ports are cheap, but this is perfect. The twisted humor of this underworld with overlords everywhere mixed with some of the deepest character customization around will have gamers playing for years to come. Final Fantasy Tactics offers serious political tone, Jeanne D’Arc mixes fantasy with history and Disgaea completes the triad with twisted underworld humor. What is Disgaea on PSP … just one of the best games you can play on PSP is all.
Why should you care? Finding a copy of NIS Disgaea on PS2 is not easy, hell my own search has been a pain. Finally getting the original, plus an Etna quest, is pure gold, and could not come to a more perfect system (quick saves and all). No more being chained to your PS2 for hours while your spouse packs and leaves you, now you c
an play in bite-size chunks. There are three strategy RPG’s on this list, which may seem odd, but each offers a different level of gameplay, great stories and hours of gaming goodness. The cult following Disgaea has built can now be experienced by gamers everywhere.
Who will want it? Hardcore, I mean really down and dirty, stat building strategy role-playing fans will want this game. Otaku, fans of the anime may want to check out the game that inspired the anime also. Where Jeanne D’Arc was a great intro for noobs to the whole strategy RPG world, Disgaea is everything the hardcore of the franchise will love.

Star Wars Battlefront: Renegade Squadron – LucasArts
What is it? Another round of Battlefront action from a new developer with a single-player campaign. Customize your character, even in the middle of battle, to carry out the orders of Han Solo as a member of his Renegade Squadron, a group that is present in every major battle from Episode IV to VI. Battle on the ground, in space and via Wi-Fi as you and 16 buddies can mix it up.
Why should you care? First off it’s Star Wars, second developer Rebellion has improved vastly on Battlefront II. The story mode is fun telling the tale of Han Solo’s elite squad in a comic book style recap from a historians point of view (she’s researching the Renegade Squadron). The real meat of the game lies in the improved multi-player, especially the customization. Not being locked into one class is nice and allows for epic battles with buddies. Not every good Star Wars games need to be set in the LEGO universe.
Who will want it? Two groups will want to check out Renegade Squadron. First, of course, are Star Wars fans. Unlike the past Battlefront games that were all about mixing it up in big battles, Renegade Squadron offers a single player campaign that adds a new story, group, to the mythos that is Star Wars. This fact alone makes it worth picking up for true Star Wars fanatics. The second group is online gamers, you of the SOCOM ilk who live getting together with friends and owning each other in massive death matches. Portable action is back (did it ever leave?) and with the limited edition white Vader PSP, yeah, this is a sweet game package.

Naruto: Ultimate Ninja Heroes
– Namco Bandai
What is it? It’s just one of the hottest anime series out there on PSP. Ultimate Ninja Heroes takes all the action (and graphics) found in the PS2 Ultimate Ninja titles and shrinks it down on the PSP, but this is not a port. The fighting action found in UNH is similar to its big brothers, but the team features are just the tip of PSP only gameplay.
Why should you care? Naruto is hot right now, with just cause. It’s a great anime, better manga and very addictive video game experience. I was impressed with the gameplay, but also that this is not just a port of the PS2 games released by Namco Bandai. You should care because this is one great fighting game.
Who will want it? Naruto fans and fighting game fans. The history of fighters on PSP is not bad, but it’s also far from great. For Naruto fans this game is hands-down a must have, for fighting fans, don’t pass it up. The action is fast and furious, the characters (over 20) unique and customizable. This is one of the best fighting games on the PSP … on any handheld.

Syphon Filter: Logan’s Shadow
– SCEA
What is it? The red-headed step child of stealth action, third to Snake and Sam. Gabe Logan, star of the Syphon Filter franchise delivers one of the top five games anywhere for the PSP. The graphics, sound and voice acting are all top notch but it’s the controls from moving to firing weapons that truly sets Logan’s Shadow apart.
Why should you care? I’ve never been a huge fan of Logan, but I’m a changed man. The control, gameplay, music, story, the whole package found in Logan’s Shadow is worthy of any portable game of the year honors. The action will appeal to a wide audience, and would work very well on the silver screen. Check it out, well worth the purchase.
Who will want it? Action game fans, anyone with a passing interest in Metal Gear Solid, anything Tom Clancy. Syphon Filter may not get top billing in the genre, but this is one Prom Queen runner-up no geek will be sad to take home (hmmm, that analogy seems a bit over the top, oh well).

The Others. The games I’ve touched on so far are can’t miss hits. Great games, in my opinion of course that will satisfy any gamers on your wish list this holiday season. That being said, they are not the be-all, end-all of games on the PSP this year. Here are four more games that are sure to please; two are out now, two more on the way. Are they worthy of a purchase this holiday season, most definitely, but I had to separate them out due to their niche-ness and/or their not being out yet. No need to remind me that the games above can be niche; I get that, but … just check them out and decide for yourself.

Final Fantasy Anniversary Edition
– Square Enix
What is it? Just the original Final Fantasy, the game that started the franchise, on PSP with better graphics sound and some new dungeons. This is role-playing action at its finest.
Why should you care? Didn’t you just read what I wrote? This is the original, number one, recreated and re-mastered for the PSP.
Who will want it? Simply put any fan of old-school, dungeon-crawling RPG action.

Crush – Sega
What is it? The best puzzle game on the PSP. Move in and out of 2-D and 3-D as gamers need to crush the landscape to solve puzzles. Sounds simple enough, but even the most cerebral of gamers will be challenge by Sega’s puzzler.
Why should you care? Not all brain building games are on the Nintendo DS. Crush will both challenge and frustrate the hell out of gamers and leave you with a true feeling of accomplishment once you solve the level you’ve been working on for hours.
Who will want it? Anyone with a PSP sh
ould pick up Crush just for the simple fact it’s a great change of pace game. Eyes bleeding from the latest sports, action, adventure, role-playing game … take a break with Crush.

Silent Hill: Origins – Konami
What is it? One of the greatest, scariest horror franchises comes to the PSP. Silent Hill: Origins takes place before the events of the original Silent Hill. You’ll assume the role of Travis Grady, truck driver making a deliver who gets sidetracked into Silent Hill. Horror and hallucinations run rampant as Travis tries to escape the fog infested town.
Why should you care? Its portable horror at it’s finest, and it’s been rebuild. Origins was scrapped after months of work due to the development team not being happy with the direction of the game. The control, graphics, everything have been rebuilt to give gamers not a port, but a true horror-ific gaming experience on the PSP.
Who will want it? Silent Hill fans and anyone wanting a scare on their PSP. If you like to be scared and freaked out, this is the game for you. Please note I say this having not played the game in its entirety, but based on what the franchise has delivered so far, this should be good.

Metal Gear Solid: Portable Ops Plus – Konami
What is it? An add-on, standalone at that, to Metal Gear Solid: Portable Ops. MGS on PSP is still one of the best stealth action games around, and the multi-player is outstanding.
Why should you care? Well, I have a secret. I’m a bimbo for anything MGS, that’s why it’s on the list, even though it’s not out yet. This is a good game, go get the original, my fandom is not the only reason it’s here.
Who will want it? If you have MGS: Portable Ops you will not only want, you’ll need this game. All other gamers need not apply until they get the original. Well worth the purchase, no AC!D here.

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