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PlayStation Minis


Jetpack Joyride is on PlayStation Network

Only $3.99
Nov 21
// Dale North
Halfbrick isn't satisfied with the 35 million mobile downloads they've got for Jetpack Joyride so far, so they're adding the game to the PlayStation Network this week.  This one-button wonder comes to PSN for the low pr...

Wizorb arrives on PlayStation minis next week

Jul 19
// Jordan Devore
We knew that Wizorb was headed to the PlayStation Store as a minis title, but now we have a firm date for North America: Tuesday, July 24. It'll be playable on PS3, PSP, and "eventually" on Vita. Wizorb is in the same vein a...

Love and war in the world of PS Minis with FuturLab

Jul 02 // Allistair Pinsof
“As for the quality of Minis, it has a bad rep for a reason,” Marsden, founder and creative director of FuturLab told me over a Skype interview. Though Marsden is grateful for the success it brought to his two games, he doesn’t defend the platform or brush off its shortcomings. To put it bluntly, PS Minis are a dinosaur tied to one of Sony’s biggest gaming failures in recent memory: the PSPgo. Remember that thing? Designed for the platform, PS Minis focus on small, simple games that mirror those of iPhone’s App Store during its early days. The downside? No leaderboards, no online support, no trophies, and a 100 MB upload limit. Developing for the system was a difficult task for Marsden, but there was a clear benefit to the service.“Q&A is much more lenient. On PSN you need to propose a concept and it gets evaluated worldwide, deciding whether it is appropriate for the platform,” Marsden said. “As long as it's not insulting, you can do pretty much anything with Minis.”Like WiiWare, Xbox Live Indie Games, and Nintendo eShop, anything flies on PS Minis. Unlike those, however, Sony actually does a good job of making games accessible with well-placed ads and a useful search feature, Marsden says. “Our programmer made a game for Xbox Live Indie Games called SLAM. It got good reviews and was one of the highest-rated games on the service, but it sold nothing. It’s really hard to find,” Marsden said. “Microsoft does very little to promote indies on that particular platform. We looked for it, a few weeks back, and we couldn’t find it. We even did a search! At least on PSN, you can just browse and find stuff easily. On PC, that’s even harder!” As for Steam, Valve has recently made it more difficult for burgeoning indie developers to get on the service. Unless you’re close to finishing your game, Valve won’t even look at it. Start-ups like FuturLab can’t afford to design a game for a platform without having confidence it will be accepted onto it. So, instead, they settled on PS Minis, where they knew they’d easily be accepted and sell at least a couple hundred copies. “EA picked Coconut Dodge up and published it on iOS, and it was a flop even with all their marketing clout. We sold more on Minis without their marketing!” Marsden said. “If you are an indie, iOS is generally too much of a gamble.” So, Marsden designed according to PS Minis’ limits, spending weeks trying to get the game’s soundtrack to fit. Despite being a soundtrack built upon retro sounds, the music files took up most of the space. Unlike the days of the Super Nintendo, there is no chip in systems now to pull synthesized sounds from. It all comes in giant .WAV files, which can only be compressed so much. Despite these hurdles, Velocity finally came out in 2012 to rave reviews. In my review for Destructoid, I called it an “original, wild, and intense” game. While Velocity found an immediate audience due to its platform, it was an extremely limited one. Even with a 90+ Metascore -- it has since dropped to 86 -- the game couldn’t find an audience and many gaming sites ignored its release. FuturLab’s big break didn’t occur until IGN, which previously gave Velocity a 9 out of 10, ran a story on the developer containing a negative slant on the game's platform. The story had nearly four times the comments of IGN’s review. The story would soon be sourced elsewhere with sites presenting FuturLab in an increasingly negative light -- as if Marsden and company were out for Sony’s blood over PS Minis. “Dev blasts Sony for lack of Minis Trophies, demos” CVG’s headline exclaimed, while Eurogamer said FuturLab “laments” Sony’s reluctance to address PS Mini’s shortcomings. When you take a look at the original interview being sourced in all these stories, it’s easy to see that Marsden’s words are being exaggerated a bit through headlines and lack of context. “If you compare yourself to others in an unfortunate way, it makes you feel good. That’s why people like negative stories,” Marsden said. “IGN picked up the word ‘major problem’ and CVG put that in a quote. I think it was just the fact that there was no mention of Velocity -- we worked quite hard to get coverage and here is a post about us that is getting loads of attention but there is no mention [of the game].” Here’s the weird thing: All this attention helped make people aware of FuturLab and Velocity. Maybe there is truth in that old phrase, “all publicity is good publicity.” Marsden is starting to see things in a new light. Maybe the controversy surrounding the recent Tomb Raider reboot and poorly received nun-punching Hitman trailer will translate to increased sales for Square Enix? In a recent blog post, Marsden contemplates what drives people to negative stories and why they help sell products. Though it took him first-hand experience to believe in the possibility, he can’t un-see it. Some indies get noticed in PAX, while others struggle to get that same amount attention through months of promotional work. Marsden is going to get his game out any way he can. If that means putting it on an obscure platform and having it promoted through negative press, fine. Though Marsden only cares about making the games he loves, he still wonders what all this negativity adds up to in the end. “It is clear to me now that negativity sells, which is just not the way it should be, is it?”

The choice was simple: Go indie or go big. However, over the past console generation, this changed. Now, some indies make more money than major studios, and “going indie” has become a fair bit more difficult th...


Wizorb to be a PlayStation Minis title this June

May 28
// Harry Monogenis
Remember Wizorb, Beatshapers' block-breaking fantasy game that launched last October as an Xbox LIVE Indie title? A few months later, as is normal with LIVE Indie games, Wizorb launched on PC via GamersGate, later findi...


Sony is working on PS Vita Minis issue

Feb 24
// Dale North
Many Destructoid readers have let us know that they've had some issues playing PlayStation Plus Minis on their new Vita. We've heard that an error message comes up when trying to boot some Minis acquired through the PS Plus s...

Review: Mecho Wars

Jan 27 // Kyle MacGregor
Mecho Wars (PlayStation Minis)Developer: Oyaji GamesPublisher: Creat StudiosReleased: January 10, 2012MSRP: $4.99 Anyone familiar with strategy games will have a good idea what Mecho Wars plays like from the get-go. The objective is to raise an army, overpower forces, and capture territories. Taking cities will generate income that can be spent at factories for the more powerful units. It's easy to pick up and learn, but that simplicity quickly gives way to a surprising amount of depth. What keeps Mecho Wars from being a mindless war of attrition is that it employs a battle system that resembles rock-paper-scissors. In addition to basic infantry, players can field a variety of units including tanks, artillery, and airborne and sea troops, each with their own set of strengths and weaknesses. Success in battle depends on deploying a diversified force capable of responding to an enemy that has just as many weapons in its arsenal. It's a pity that many players will likely find the challenge Mecho Wars offers inappropriate for their level of skill. A lack of multiple difficulty settings means there's no remedy for this problem. Some might find the campaigns too challenging, and while some might enjoy that happy medium, I found the campaigns painfully easy.  Without an option for fog of war, experienced players will always know what the computer is up to and how to counter its tactics. Enemies will blindly attack weakened units whilst forsaking territories crucial to their own defense. When the only thing that separates you from victory is time investment, playing the computer can get pretty dull. Something interesting, however, is the environmentally dynamic use of water on the campaign map. At night, the seas will freeze for a few turns, allowing troops to avoid bottlenecks, like bridges, as well as making maritime units immobile. Using the altered environments to your advantage is, at times, key to a swift and decisive victory. It also would have been a great way to catch your opponent off guard had there been fog of war. In addition to the two campaigns, Mecho Wars exhibits a challenge mode and local multiplayer. Both essentially work the same, letting players choose a map and victory conditions. If you have a friend to play with, the multiplayer alone is worth the prince of admission and is a solution for anyone bored of stomping on the computer. Visually, it's something of a mixed bag. Luc Bernard's art is as lovely as ever, it's just too bad the rest of the game doesn't live up to that standard. The menus aren't exactly pretty and don't mesh terribly well with the rest of the aesthetic. Campaign maps, while perfectly fine, almost look like they've been ripped straight from Advance Wars. It's interesting that a project headed up by an artist is so devoid of fresh artistic ideas. The game's greatest strengths and most apparent flaws are two sides of the same coin. Borrowing so unapologetically from Nintendo's GBA classic means that there aren't many glaring issues with Mecho Wars. It's a formula that works, and while Oyaji Games needn't reinvent the wheel, it has failed to take that blueprint and make that its own. As a result, the package feels uninspired. There's a veneer of interesting visuals and a sparse narrative that keeps it from feeling like a total carbon copy, but Mecho Wars has arrived ten years too late with too few new ideas to rival the success it attempts to imitate. Instead of escaping that shadow, Bernard's latest release settles for something that, while fun, is closer to mediocrity than greatness.

To say that Eternity's Child was a disappointment would be a massive understatement. It was an ambitious platformer with gorgeous artwork that really looked promising. Unfortunately, it didn't live up to expectations. No...


SNK adds two more arcade classics to PlayStation Network

Jan 25
// Dale North
SNK Playmore has brought two more Arcade Classics from their vault to the PlayStation Store for play on PSP or PS3. Bermuda Triangle is a vintage SNK shmup from 1987 where you'll pilot a ZIG aircraft as you journey through ti...

Review: Where-is-my-Heart?

Dec 12 // Steven Hansen
Where-is-my-Heart? (PlayStation Minis) Developer: Die Gute Fabrik Publisher: Die Gute Fabrik Released: November 22, 2011 MSRP: $6.99 Where-is-my-Heart? is something of an allegory for Die Gute Fabrik designer Bernhard Schulenburg’s stressful childhood experience of getting lost in the woods with his parents while on a hike. It’s both a personal and poignant rumination on the family’s relationship, represented in the game by three different characters, a family of monsters who must work in tandem to find their way home. Where-is-my-Heart? is original in its catalyst and similarly original in its gameplay, but anyone scoffing at the idea of another pretentious, pixel-art-boasting art-house game is doing themselves a disservice, as gameplay takes precedence in what is one of the most surprisingly delightful experiences I’ve had this year. The main diversion in the design from traditional 2D platforming is a complex one. The game is separated into chapters, each of which consists of one "stage" that exists in only one screen; that is, there is no scrolling of the screen to expose more of the environment. While the reined in scope might hint at simplicity, stages are complicated by being fragmented into panels of various sizes which are not oriented in a congruous manner. The result of this unique design is a game that is appropriately disorienting, which cleverly serves a dual purpose in creating challenging, interesting gameplay as well as furthering the narrative undertones. The sense of being lost comes through poignantly in the game, as it’s frequently difficult to get your bearings and remember where you are. The disparate, seemingly arbitrarily arranged bits of stage are a prime example of how a smartly designed mechanic can be integral to every portion of a game, which is absolutely refreshing to see amidst this season’s blockbusters and spectacle. Navigating a confusing array of panels isn’t the only challenge Where-is-my-Heart? produces, however. As mentioned, your goal in each stage is to successfully guide all three monsters to safety, often making the game more parts puzzler than platformer, more parts Portal than Mario. The monsters can stand atop each other’s heads to reach otherwise inaccessible bits of the stage at times, but that only gets them so far. Adding to the complexity, each monster has an alternate form they can change into by standing on certain blocks. The brown monster changes into Antler Ancestor, who sidesteps the present reality and enters an alternate version of stages called “the Land of the Fireflies.” Though alone, he is able to double jump, and representations of the grey and orange monsters hover around him (much like fireflies). When he changes back into Brown, Grey and Orange end up wherever their firefly avatars were in that alternate world. The grey monster changes into the Bat King, at which point new platforms or paths appear and become available for him to use. Perhaps the most interesting transformation of the bunch, the orange monster changes into the Rainbow Spirit (of True Sorrow), who is able to rotate the entire mass of panels 90 degrees at a time. While that isn’t helpful in and of itself, as changing the orientation doesn’t change the relation between panels, the Rainbow Spirit can jump and then shift panels while it remains in the same spot, effectively allowing travel between disconnected panels. The game can be a definite head scratcher at times, as you figure out how to manage and effectively use all of your monsters and find ways to get all three of them to the end of the stage -- and the disorienting nature of the stages doesn’t do your mind any favors. It sort of reminds me of a more complex version of the riddles where you have to cross a river with a sheep, cabbage, and wolf (or some variation of), but can only take one across at a time so you have to figure out how to do it without any of the things eating the other. Of course, a lot of stages can ultimately be solved by a lot of trial and error, as you can sometimes haphazardly fling yourself about and hope to end up where you need to be. That actually makes a bit of sense, though, as part of getting yourself un-lost in reality hinges on a bit of luck and a bit of aimlessly wandering around until you find something to tell you you’re on the right track. Levels also have hearts scattered around them, which add to an overall tally throughout the game. If a character dies at any point, though lives are unlimited, that death nets you one black heart, which will cancel out one collectible pink heart. Thankfully, it doesn’t ever go into negative points, because I died an absurd number of times on some stages to the point where I might’ve ended up with an overall negative score. I don’t know whether or not collecting every pink heart leads to anything special, but, if nothing else, it adds some replay value to anyone who wants to test their platforming skills and try to complete the game without dying. Because I’ve been going on about the unique, complex, and multifaceted, game design, I’ve yet to mention that the game is absolutely adorable, which you’ve undoubtedly gathered by the screenshots up to this point. In addition to the cute character design, I love the undersaturated pastels, which, while still colorful, help set the mood of the game. Similarly, the sound design, though minimalistic and more ambient, is aurally consistent and fitting with the tone. The only real negative thing I have to say about Where-is-my-Heart? is that the load screens that punctuate the chapters pass by a little too quickly. Yes. The loads are too short. I know it’s ridiculous, but each screen that introduces a new chapter has some interesting bits of text and other things and I actually couldn’t catch all of a couple because of how quickly it went to the next stage. Where-is-my-Heart? is deceptively cute, because behind its adorable facade is a complex game. It's well designed, which you know because you can’t see the seams, yet, given all the working parts, you know that every piece of the game is part of an intricate, balanced relationship. What’s more, the experience that the gameplay creates subtly, inexplicitly facilitates the sparse, minimalistic narrative bits.

Just the term "PlayStation Mini" seems to be a running gag among some people, as games under the Mini umbrella appear to be regarded, sweepingly, with puzzling derision or plain indifference. That never made sense to me, espe...


Nerdy delight: Fighting Fantasy: Talisman of Death

Aug 02
// Dale North
Do you know of Steve Jackson and Ian Livingstone’s Fighting Fantasy series of interactive Gamebooks? Talisman of Death is one of the best-known (and controversial) Fighting Fantasy adventures, and it's now a PlayStat...

Jim Sterling gets Monstar'd ... wait, what?

May 09
// Jim Sterling
When in doubt, appeal to a writer's narcissism. That's what Cohort Studios did, and look, they've got themselves a free article about their game.  So this is Monstar, a PlayStation Minis title that'll be coming whenever ...

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