| paleface [sys=PSP; cat=Fighting; loc=NA] |
|Like the Chronicle on Dreamcast (see entry 707), The Chaos Tower is a psuedo compilation of Capcom's "Darkstalkers" or "Vampire" monster-mash fighting games, taking most of the characters from that series, allowing you to select a fighting scheme based on one of the games, whose schemes varied somewhat as the series evolved, and then throwing them together in semi-random battles on a limited number of backgrounds taken from the series.|
As with the DC one, the sum is not greater than the parts, and the excessive borrowing and smushing-together of disparate elements makes for a centrally weak game relative to any of the games that it is based on. And then the PSP version also has to contend with Sony's split D-pad, whose PSP incarnation makes it even harder to do circular or diagonal motions than on their PlayStation DualShock controllers, which already had problems in that respect. It comes to this: it is, in effect, impossible to do fighting moves with circle motions or definite diagonal motions. You may be able to do it now and then in practice, but in the heat of a match, no way. Just forget about it. Hell, you'll have enough trouble just trying to jump from side to side.
Realzing this, Capcom included optional "Easy" controls, under which you can pull off most special moves by pressing the pad in a single direction. This helps quite a bit, as does having Supers on the shoulder buttons. Under this configuration the game is actually playable, which is nice, but purists might as well not even bother, since you will pretty much have to sacrifice two of what were in the arcade four attack buttons, which probably means that you won't be able to do quite a few of the old combos.
So if you're going to play this, just take it as a different game, with rather nice art. And it is a nice-looking incarnation of the series, indeed: not a drop of slowdown or suchlike to be seen anywhere, nor nasty sprite scaling or anything like that; it all just looks very rich sharp on the PSP's screen. You can even scale the graphics up in various ways to fill the PSP's 16x9 screen, but at that point they do start to get stretched and blurred, so I stick with arcade resolution and small sidebars.
As far as actual gameplay content goes, the new stuff here comes in the form of "Tower" mode, a sort of survival mode in which you pick three characters and go "up" "flights" in an abstract "tower" flowchart, which is really just a branching path of pre-chosen battles. Winning a fight in certain ways, clearly spelled out before the fight, can sometimes send you down a different branch; for instance, if you win the very first fight with a Super move, you get to skip to floor...I think it was five.
And that's handy, because you carry over character health between rounds, so if they lay into one of your characters pretty good in one round/floor, that character will be hurting when they get to the fresh opponent on the next floor. You also carry over your Super meter charges, so you can stock them up and really lay into someone nasty.
To mix things up even more, Capcom gave some of the Tower battles arbitrary rules, like "No jumping." This kind of thing feels fairly forced, but there's no denying that it forces you to explore different strategies, which probably puts hair on your chest, or something. Fortunately, at least in the early going, they don't pull too many switcheroos like that on you. Oh, and playing through Tower mode can unlock pictures in the "Chronicle" gallery, yay.
So yeah, another console, another Chronicle. Will Capcom be doing these until Doomsday instead of making a real new game? Probably. Still, even while the control here will probably piss you off, the game looks and sounds very nice on the small screen, and Tower mode succeeds in adding a little bit of experimentation to the old 2D fighting game formula.