B-Boy - PSP Review
With the Nintendo DS out on the market, its little wonder that there has been a fair few titles released on the PSP already that have been trying to move away from traditional gaming styles. Archer MacLeanís Mercury, Loco Roco, and a handful other games have been fairly innovative when compared with the majority of other games brought to the system, and to continue that innovative path Sony have now released a break-dancing battle game, christened B-Boy. In our preview of B-Boy (which has been released for both the PSP and PS2 platforms) it was fairly obvious that we were keen to get our hands on this title, and to some extent, that anticipation has been well rewarded.
|Now that's gotta hurt!|
OK, so before we get into the nitty-gritty, letís take a brief moment to look at the setting of the game. First off, thereís not much to the plot Ė basically your mentor, Kool Rock, has trained you in the ways of being a B-Boy, and now youíre all set to go out and take on the top break dancers in the world. As you win challenges, more open up, as do several tournaments, where you fight your way through knockout rounds to win the prize, whatever it may be. Sounds fairly simple and it is. It certainly isnít something that will draw you to the game, but it does what it needs to get you into it.
Itís once you finish watching the tutorial videos (and we recommend you watch them all!) and start actually battling that this game really comes out and shines. The controls are very intuitive and once you work it out, it really does feel similar to games like Tekken and Soul Calibur, only you donít make contact with your opponent. The action buttons are used to initiate certain base moves, while directions are used to move about the floor, and also in combos to initiate more complicated moves. On top of this, the shoulder buttons are used to balance freeze moves and also to tap the beat of the current song playing, which can help you win the beat medal. There are up to 5 medals to be won in each challenge, and this is how you are to beat your opponent, by winning more medals than them.
|Bustin moves in the gym.|
If you get sick of playing against computerized opponents, you can always get a friend to challenge you in multiplayer mode, and this will extend the games life a little. However, unfortunately game sharing is not supported, meaning both players need their own copy of the game to play.
While the controls definitely feel nice, there is a slightly annoying aspect to them that takes a little getting used to. With so much effort put into the motion-captured animations, moves are strung together at certain points in the animation, meaning sometimes you can press a button and have to wait up to about 1-2 seconds before the move initiates. While this may sound like a trivial matter, in a game where you are given points for timing, it can become quite frustrating. However, aside from this, the controls really are quite wonderful, and the only other huge problem is load times.
|Ohh, the windmill.|
Being a handheld game, load times are something that should be kept to a minimum. Unfortunately, you will almost spend longer waiting for levels to load then playing them, with our average load time being about 50-60 seconds (yes we timed it!) and the battles lasting as short as 90 seconds of dancing (2 x 45 seconds) and about 10-20 seconds of cut scenes at the beginning and between dances. On top of this, loading a save game also takes a large amount of time, and is equally as frustrating. Due to this annoying aspect of the game the score we have given is lowered considerably. Handheld games simply should not take this long to load. No game should really!
One other slight issue I have with the game is that it feels very stop-start. You step up to the floor, do your 45 seconds of moves, then you have to wait 45 seconds for your opponent to do theirs... While itís not too bad at the start, after a few hours of waiting half the time for load screens, and quarter of the time for the opponent, it becomes quite a tiresome affair.
|Yep, another PSP B-Boy screen.|
So anyway, about those load times... why does it take so long to load? Well it could be that B-Boy is up there with the best games on PSP. Itís not quite as shiny as Tekken: Dark Resurrection, with levels less detailed and nowhere near as much detail put into character models, but it is, nonetheless, one of the nicest looking games to hit the system. The animation is superb, and the sheer number of movements is amazing. On top of this there are over 20 different locations to battle. As far as eye candy goes, the game satisfies on every front, with everything running smoothly with no hiccups at all.
Now, the game looks and feels the part of a game straight from the modern hip-hop culture, but does it sound the part? And the answer is that it kind of does Ė well, at least the music does. With around 40 tracks from all fronts of the hip-hop genre, there is a decent amount of tunes there to keep you occupied. Aside from this, there are minimal sound effects in the game, with a fairly standard scratching sound used for menu selections. The small amount of voice acting (limited mostly to tutorial videos) is decent enough, but there really isnít much else to the audio of this game. Itís not particularly bad, just not there, and my only real complaint is that early on, you get sick of the same 3 or 4 songs, as you have to unlock more by completing challenges, and this can quickly become annoying.
|Yet more crisp graphics.|
So overall, Sony have done a decent job at taking the hip-hop feel and putting it into this game, and while it may not be the best game yet, it certainly is fun. The audience B-Boy is really going to connect well with is the hip-hop lovers, and if you arenít into the music, donít even bother with the game. However, if you can at least put up with the music and like Tekken-styled games, this could be right up your alley!
Review By: Michael Hutchesson
Order your copy now from Gameswarehouse.
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|GRAPHICS||Up there with some of the best. Amazingly animated movements.||86%|
|SOUND||Music is nice, apart from that thereís very little to comment on. ||59%|
|GAMEPLAY||Controls are very nice with only a few issues. Fairly easy to pick up and learn. There are several minor issues, but the big letdown, and what lowers this score quite a lot, is the ridiculously long load times Ė especially when the game time for each battle is relatively short. ||57%|
|VALUE||Itís a decent length, but it does get fairly repetitive. Multiplayer is good, but shared game support would have been better.||69%|
|OVERALL||B-Boy is a decent game. There are no major flaws, but itís not amazing either. Iíve already said it several times, but the game really suffers because of those load times.||64%|