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Simple 2500 Series Portable! Vol.5: The Block Kuzushi Quest
  opened by paleface at 02:48:09 04/25/06  
  last modified by paleface at 12:25:50 03/05/24  
  paleface [sys=PSP; cat=Puzzle; reg=JPN]
A combination of two genres I tend to like: vertical shooters and ball & paddle games.
Like an Arkanoid or whatever, a ball bounces around the screen and you have to reflect it off your paddle at the bottom up into blocks at the top, breaking them with the ball to clear the screen and advance to the next level. Simple enough, eh?
Well, here you can move up and down a bit, not just back and forth. Slam upwards into the ball as it comes down just right and you'll launch it at warp-speed straight up-screen, sending it smashing through all but the most unbreakable of blocks in a terrible path of destruction. Yeah!
Ah, but things get tricky. For one, some blocks take multiple hits to break. Some of them move. And then there are unbreakable blocks acting as barriers. Doh!
All that's pretty old news, though. Let's get to the new stuff. There are enemies! Yep, monsters fly down and hover around the screen, blocking your ball, shooting at you, and generally making nuisances of themselves.
Fortunately, you have counter-measures. The ball itself can do some damage to them. And then there's the laser blaster mounted on your paddle. You can hold it down to build up a charge burst, or just let fly with repeated taps.
And then there, ah, magic. Yep! You get magic spells in certain levels. So far I've got one that puts an additional damage charge on the ball, which is great, and another that turns my paddle into a sort of wider winged thing, so it can catch the ball easier. These only last a short time, and they take up mana--which is also expended by your laser gun.
Refills come in pellets dropped by enemies that bounce around the screen like the ball. Other pellets refill your health (you lose some when hit by an enemy, or when you let the ball sail out the bottom of the screen), give you extra shot charge (?), or give you I think additional XP. Yeah, that's where the "Quest" bit comes in, I guess. Levels are linked through multiple worlds, and between stages you can use XP points to raise your stats (like total mana, health, shot power, etc), equip magic spells, and something to do with metamorphoses. I still haven't got one of those to go yet.
Man, this is a complicated game! The graphics are a little on the dull and washed-out side, but they move fast enough, and you can see everything you need to see. The stage backgrounds are kinda lifeless, and only change per world (once every dozen stages or so). The sound isn't bad. The menus can be a little frustrating; for instance, you can't quite back out to the level select screen from within a level, only back to the world select screen, meaning you lose progress you'd made in the last world you were in, and you have to save manually, as there is no auto-save.
But man, the actual gameplay is really solid. There are still some things I haven't figured out, like the metamorphoses, and what the big solid colored spheres you collect do, but the ball physics are great, and I love the way that you can adjust the rebound angle and speed of the ball by the direction your paddle is moving when it makes contact; that sounds like such a simple thing, but so few ball & paddle games actually get it right! And the block layouts vary widely from stage to stage, and keep things interesting with tricky arrangements, moving blocks, bonus blocks, treasure boxes, and that sort of thing.
Oh, yeah, the control layout is interesting. The game is played holding the PSP sideways, so it's a nice vertical shooter, see? Good stuff. Different analog stick directions trigger your spells (took me forever to figure this out). The right trigger "tilts" the screen like in a pinball game, jarring the ball if it's stuck in some kind of near-infinite rebound loop.
This game is cool. I can't wait to see what the metamorphosis thingy does.
  paleface 03:44:43 04/25/06
This thing is subtitled "~Dragon Kingdom~." Oh, and it has a Versus mode, but I'll probably never meet anyone to try it with.

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