Sunday, June 19, 2011

Why didn't someone warn me that Pac-Man Championship Edition is even harder to control on the PSP than it is on the Xbox 360?

Last week I did something I've been meaning to do for a long time: I bought my first PSP game.

I know, I've talked about buying Cladun: This is an RPG, Half-Minute Hero, Hot Shots Tennis: Get a Grip, Patapon and quite a few other games since I picked up a PSP last year, but for various reasons I have yet to follow through and purchase any of them.

So, which game did I buy when I finally let loose last week? The PSP Minis version of Pac-Man Championship Edition. It was just $4.99 and it would allow me to play this awesome title on the go--how could I choose anything else, right?

After playing the game for a bit over the weekend, though, I'm currently asking myself a completely different question: Why in the hell didn't I choose something else?

Before I get to why I'm asking myself that question, I have to say that nearly everything about this PSP Minis release is a mirror image of its Xbox 360 counterpart. The former looks and sounds just as good as the latter, as far as I'm concerned, and the former also shares all of the latter's modes and options--well, except for the ability to compare ones high scores with those of players elsewhere in the world via an online leaderboard.

Although I can see that irking some die-hard Pac-Man Championship Edition fans, that's not my big beef with the PSP iteration. No, my big beef with the game is that it controls terribly whether you use the portable system's directional pad or analog "nub." (Basically, the former is too tight and the latter is too loose, at least in my experience.) In fact, it's so difficult to control that I doubt I'll play it more than a handful of times--which is a shame, because this is could have and should have been the perfect title for on-the-go gamers.

Oh, well, at least it only set me back $4.99. Here's hoping my next PSP purchase--which is likely to be Cladun: This is an RPGHot Shots Tennis or Patchwork Heroes--will be less of a disappointment.


RetroKingSimon said...

Oh no! First you get me excited by revealing the existence of this game on the PSP (the only modern console I have), and then you dash my hopes by revealing it sucks! Bah! :(

Bryan Ochalla said...

You have a PSP, Simon? That shocks me for some reason!

As for the PSP version of Pac-Man CE sucking -- I probably should have prefaced my comments by saying that in general I have a problem with the PSP's analog nub. The position of it (at the bottom of the system) never fails to make my left hand cramp after just a few minutes of play. The system's d-pad doesn't trouble me at all, usually, so I was surprised when I found that control option to be even worse than using the analog nub for this game.

If you don't have any problems with your PSP's analog nub or d-pad, you *may* be able to enjoy this, Simon, as everything else about it is spot-on. Well, except for the lack on online leaderboards...

Sean said...

That is a bummer.

I recognize the existence of a category of game that could be described as "games that would be really great if their controls weren't so awful."

This is without a doubt the most frustrating type of game to own. Sounds like this Pacman for the PSP fits the description perfectly.

You have my sympathy:)

Bryan Ochalla said...

Ha! Yes, Sean, this game definitely fits into that category :) It's too bad, really, because even though the game is difficult to control on the 360, it isn't anywhere near unplayable or enjoyable. On the PSP, though, it's both. Oh, well, on to the next game :)

Viewtiful_Justin said...

I don't feel like I understand why it controls so terribly. Example? Can you not turn? Is it hard to time? What's the issue?

Bryan Ochalla said...

Hey there, Justin! Hmmm, let me see... Well, when you use the d-pad to play the game, it's hard to time turns correctly because the d-pad is so tight. That's not a huge problem at the beginning of the game, when the speed is slow, but when things speed up it becomes a nightmare.

Anyway, things are any better when using the PSP's analog nub, which has the opposite problem of the d-pad -- it's too loose! So, timing is an issue with this control method, too.

The thing is, I've played a bunch of demos of other games on the system, and although the analog nub causes my hand to cramp after a few minutes of play, I've otherwise not had any problems with the PSP's control options (one of them -- either the d-pad or the analog nub -- always works well enough to get the job done).

Viewtiful_Justin said...

Fair enough. I figured that might be the case, I just wondered. I'm finding that the controls for Ocarina of Time 3D are making my hands cramp, too. The shoulder buttons for locking on and using the shield aren't super convenient, and the analog pad makes my hand hurt after about a half hour...

Bryan Ochalla said...

BTW, I meant to say "things AREN'T any better when using the PSP's analog nub" in the second sentence/paragraph of my last comment. Ugh.

Anyway, sorry I wasn't descriptive enough when I first published this post. Sometimes I get too excited to post something and I end up leaving out important details :P

RE: your most recent comment -- I guess this means you got Ocarina of Time 3D? Yay! I'm sorry to hear it's causing your hands to cramp, though. Is it because of the system's placement of the pads and buttons?

It's amazing how crucial that (placement of buttons and pads) is to the creation of a good portable system, by the way. Honestly, I've never been as bothered by a portable system as I've been while using the PSP's analog nub. That's too bad, because in every other way the system is extremely well-made. Sadly, it seems the Vita will be very similar in this regard, so I'm not sure I'll ever buy one as a result.

BTW, and I know I'm blabbing here, but my experience w/ the PSP has me feeling very happy that the folks at Nintendo have decided to put the pair of analog nubs on the Wii U controller near the top rather than near the bottom of the peripheral. Hopefully this will mean much less cramping after long play sessions :)

Viewtiful_Justin said...

Yeah. I'm hoping that's the case, because I never thought the DS was very comfortable, and the 3DS is worse, IMO.

Bryan Ochalla said...

I've never had a problem with the DS, to be honest, but I can see where some would. I guess I'll find out about the 3DS after I get one. I do think it will help that the WiiU controller is pretty big, though.