PlayStation 2 PSN Release Review Wrap-Up

Just a word of warning – today’s PlayStation Network update?  MASSIVE.  We’re talking a bunch of quality games that will find their way onto the service today, including NBA Jam: On Fire Edition, Crysis HD, Eufloria, and the PS One classic Chrono Trigger.  If that isn’t enough, we’re also getting five PlayStation 2 games, which will be available for the first time ever on the service.  Now, while the games don’t come with any HD touch-ups or trophies, they are faithfully recreated using the same PS2 code, so they’re just like you remember them.

Now, the question is, which games are worth your $9.99 purchase?  Here is the run-down of the initial five releases, as well as what we rate each one.

Ring of Red (Konami)

Strategy has definitely grown into an art form as of late, with Blizzard leading the pack with its Starcraft games and countless others following in its wake.  Console-based strategy games don’t happen too often, so when you get something like Ring of Red, you’ll want to take notice.  This game features a whole mess of robots, which you have to use to strategically take apart your enemy.

Though we prefer the likes of Final Fantasy Tactics to a game like this (it’s a little difficult to overcome at times, since it relies more on hardcore thinking than quick battles), this one will definitely get its fans.  The gameplay, once learned, is quite entertaining with no shortage of strategies to figure out, leading to some remarkable battles.  The presentation keeps up as well, with good-looking visuals (not great, but definitely PS2 standard level) and quality music and FX.

If you’re a fan of this sort of game, feel free to embrace the Ring.  It might just be your precious.

RATING: 7.5 (out of 10)

GrimGrimoire (NIS)

And you thought Ring of Red was insane.  GrimGrimoire, from the same development team behind Muramasa on the Wii (Vanillaware), is an even deeper experience – and one that doesn’t revolve around robots, for that matter.  In the game, you play a young magician who works his way through a school of magic (relax, this is before the era of Harry Potter) and slowly learns his wares as he battles all sorts of enemies.

This game requires a lot of thinking – and patience, for that matter.  The first few stages alone pack the kind of challenges that will send you cursing off into a frenzy if you’re not fully prepared.  However, after a few rounds getting a hang of the nice gameplay features, you’ll find this magic world is worth embracing, particularly as you learn the deeper spells and bigger battles.  To boot, the visuals are charming too – standard for Vanillaware products.

If Ring of Red doesn’t suit your acquired strategic tastes, give this wand a whirl.

RATING: 7.5 (out of 10)

Odin Sphere (Atlus)

Where GrimGrimoire is a quirky little title, Atlus’ Odin Sphere, also produced by Vanillaware, feels like the main course.  This side-scrolling action RPG has so much going for it, it’s ridiculous.  Aside from multiple difficulty settings, hours worth of gameplay, and the kind of artwork that would make you think of more traditional 2D fare, it’s really quite shocking how well it comes together.

Better still, it’s backed by an epic story, which you’re best off discovering for yourself, along with continuously evolving gameplay mechanics that never get old and unpredictable battles that will keep you on your toes.  The various characters you’ll come across are simply stunning, and the art style is nothing short of magnificent.  It features great music too – but we could’ve done without the squeaky English voice acting.  (Thankfully, there’s a Japanese language option.)

RPG fans may be tied up with the release of Chrono Trigger tomorrow, but Odin Sphere makes a quality secondary purchase.  Don’t let this gem pass you by.

RATING: 9 (out of 10)

God Hand (Capcom)

This is one of those quirky action titles that you’ll either love or hate, based upon your experience from playing it and how you feel about the weird ass stuff that Clover Studio, the folks behind Okami, have poured into it.  Us?  We accept it on the same level as a train wreck.  There’s so much ridiculous awfulness happening here that it borderlines on hilarious – and we can’t turn away.

So God Hand features combat – a lot of it – and the controls leave a little something to be desired.  That said, its unpredictability works well in its favor, and you’ll soon be turning opponents into piles of bloody goo.  The characters you’ll run across leave quite the legacy for themselves, and watching the ludicrous story unfold is half the battle.  Once it’s done, though, you don’t have much to go back to.  We’re kinda wondering why Capcom opted to release this one instead of the longer-lasting – and probably better-selling – Okami.

God Hand won’t be for everyone, so if you didn’t like it before, you won’t like it now.  However, there’s literally nothing like it right now on PlayStation Network, so if curiosity gets the better of you, there are worse ways to spend ten bucks.

RATING: 7 (out of 10)

Maximo: Ghosts To Glory (Capcom)

Finally, we have Capcom’s Ghosts n’ Goblins 3D rendition, only not.  Maximo sits in a league by itself, far from the realm that Arthur invaded in the original trilogy and instead striking new territory (well, for PS2 anyway) that simply shouldn’t be denied.  Aside from its visual quality and epic soundtrack, there’s also an immense challenge level here – ideal for GNG veterans.

You move through a demon-filled world, avoiding traps and collecting coins while killing everything you come across, in the hopes of rescuing your girl.  The game features hours worth of territory to cover, along with plenty of weapons to try out and goodies to locate.  It does so with the kind of imaginative presentation you don’t see much from Capcom’s camp anymore.  (Well, aside from the Maximo sequel that would follow a couple of years later.  Hey, Capcom, we need Army of Zin now!)

If you have to pick one PS2 game to add to your collection, make it this one.  Maximo: Ghosts To Glory is unbeatable fun.

RATING: 9.5 (out of 10)