Handheld Gaming Hodgepodge

Picked back up the PSP and DS lately (thanks to the power failure) and been playing a few new games for them.

Gitaroo Man Lives (PSP)
I posted earlier about my battles with the Gamestop clerks on actually obtaining this game and I have to say that now that I have it, it's both very good and very frustrating. The game is hard. Really freaking hard at times. It's also very short. I did manage to get all the way through the main gameplay mode on Easy mode (in a single night) and am halfway through on Normal difficulty, but as much as I enjoy the gameplay, there is no reason on earth for this game to cost $40. Aside from one or two songs, the music is not terribly enthralling and the backgrounds are so busy and distracting that they actually interfere with the frantic gameplay. If you have a friend with another PSP then it might be worth picking up for the Duet Mode, but otherwise you should definitely pass on this until it comes down in price.

Every Extend Extra (PSP)
This is another game from the creator of Lumines and is nearly as enjoyable. It's a musical, puzzle-based, shoot 'em up that can only be described as some sort of crazy combination of Rez and Geometry Wars, but with the added quality of being entirely 2D and featuring lengthy chain reactions. Like Gitaroo Man Lives, the game is short and can be played through in one sitting, but there are so many extra modes and challenges to accomplish that you can conceivably play this game indefinitely. The user's manual is more of a pamphlet so playing through the Tutorial mode is an absolute must. Once you clear the Tutorial mode and begin playing the main Arcade Mode of the game, you'll either know right away whether this game is for you, but even then it takes multiple plays to fully realize just what is possible in the way of chain-reactions and scoring. I love this game and think it was worth the $30 it cost. A perfect addition to the PSP's lineup, in my opinion, but certainly the type of game many will hate. Not nearly as universal as Lumines.

Big Brain Academy (DS)
Kristin wanted to play the DS and being that I sold all of my DS games except for Age of Kings, that meant we needed something new. And this is what she picked out. I'm glad she did. Like the other "train your brain" games on the market for the DS, Big Brain Academy challenges you with brief tests that attempt to measure your intelligence. Tests are in areas of Compute, Memory, Analysis, Think, and Identify and based on you how you do, you are assigned a brain mass and a medal. Practice mode lets you pick any of the three tests in each category and complete them on either of the three difficulty settings so you can get familliar with the rules of each test. Test mode then gives you one test in each of the 5 disciplines and assigns an overall brain mass, a grade, and then (my favorite part) the host of the test, Dr. Lobe, tells you what type of profession your skills most qualify you for. So far, my highest score has netted me a position as a "Diplomat", but I most often qualify for "Museum Curator" thanks to my high scores in the Identify and Memory categories. Kristin's brain doesn't weigh as much as mine does (now we have documented proof to what we all expected!) and she is often told she is best suited for a job was an accountant or financial analyst. These Big Brain Academy games come in several flavors and we aren't as expensive as other DS games. We'll be definitely adding more to our collection once we exhaust this one's potential. Highly recommend picking it up if you have a DS.

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