BEST of PlayStation Network Vol. 1
is all about variety. All four games are wildly different offerings and unlike most of what you would normally expect to find on the shelf. Forget cookie cutter action games with brooding protagonists and by-the-bulletpoint shooters… everything here is uniquely its own thing.
For me, Tokyo Jungle is one of the best, and most interesting, games in the collection. It is sort of like The Last of Us, but if all of the bandits and Clickers were animals. An event has wiped out all humans, leaving what’s left of civilization to the animals. Beginning as either a Pomeranian or Sika deer, your only job is to survive the ruins of downtown Shibuya. You’ll need to hunt, fight for territory and make sure your lineage carries on to another generation.
Gameplay is split between two modes, Survival and Story. Most of the fun takes place in Survival Mode. Starting as either a Pomeranian or deer, you try to survive as long as possible by hunting and marking territory. Challenges pop up from time-to-time, offering alternate goals. These include simple things like killing a set number of animals to seeking out "boss" animals or extending your generation. New species are unlocked as you complete goals, offering new challenges and ways to play. Playing as a carnivore is much different than playing as a herbivore, obviously, but even playing as different dogs is unique.
Story Mode content is locked behind Survival Challenges. It’s an odd setup and one I didn’t particularly like. Story Mode is fun for filling in some story gaps, but compared to Survival, it is too basic. Unlike Survival, where you need to make decisions and are an active participant, Story just guides you along, reminding you every step of the way, "Hey, this is a game!"
Sound Shapes is outright brilliant. It is a typical platformer where you attempt to jump, climb, and run through various obstacles to get your blob to the end of the level. However, as you traverse peril, you’re also collecting notes, which build in the game’s amazing soundtrack. New notes fill in the overall score while interacting with other objects enhances the moody grooves even further. There’s even a bit of interplay between what you see on the screen and what you’re hearing. At times, it is an almost Zen experience – or at least it was for me.
The main mode lasts about five levels, but the experience carries over into two other modes. One, Death Mode, is an exercise in extreme platforming. You have to know what you’re doing if you want to collect everything and beat the clock. Beat School challenges you to listen to beats and try to match them. I’ve always enjoyed listening and trying to match rhythms (I was, after all, a drummer at one point in my life), so I got a lot out of this mode. Finally, there’s a level editor that I admittedly didn’t spend a lot of time with.
When Vikings Attack! is super simple, but surprisingly fun for what it offers. You control a group of civilians whose headcount grows and shrinks based on how much damage you’re doing to the Viking hordes. Gameplay is simple; you run around, grab whatever isn’t nailed to the ground and use it as a weapon. Projectiles range from cars to tables, with each causing more or less damage based on its size. In order to pick up large items, you need a larger group of civilians, so there are strategic considerations. Although gameplay suggests a massive item-tossing free-for-all, you have to keep track of several factors. Some items bounce and the Vikings can steal objects… there’s a lot happening at one time.
Unfortunately, throwing items at groups of Vikings is only fun for so long. Replay value is not the game's strong point. While you can play with a friend, you probably won't want to play for long stints of time.
I previously reviewed Fat Princess, so check the link for my impressions. My impressions haven’t changed much at all since I first reviewed the game years ago, though the play landscape is a bit different. Connecting to an online game wasn’t impossible, but challenging, which makes all of the difference considering it is built for multiplayer.