For a long time there, Sony didn’t really have the big names to launch a console. While Nintendo has a whole stable of mascots to flagship each of their consoles, and Sega had Sonic, for a long time Sony was mascotless other than the third-party Crash Bandicoot.
Then with the PS2, Sony became mascot crazy, bringing new beloved characters and faces to that console, the PS3 and PSP. Ratchet and Clank, Jak and Daxter, Sly Cooper, Sackboy, Kratos, Sweet Tooth, these are just some of the bigger names to exclusively reside on Sony’s consoles. Maybe not on par with Nintendo’s Mario and Zelda, Sony’s crew certainly holds sway over gaming fans worldwide. It’s about time they created a big cross-over event to bring their beloved characters together. However, instead of a kart racer or fighting game, Sony and developer Nihilistic Software have taken characters from the family-friendly Jak and Daxter, Sly Cooper and Rachet and Clank franchise, and made a casual game of minigames.
Ok, I said it, Playstation Move Heroes is not a platformer, it’s actually not a lot like the previous titles. It’s a game of five different minigames. I know, this is probably a buzz kill for many hoping to play a brand new PS3 Sly or Rachet game. But that’s them apples, and thankfully, the minigames are pretty fun.
One of the biggest challenges Nihilistic Software found was creating a game that fits the visual tone of each game. Sly and his turtle buddy Bently is now fully rendered, no longer cel-shaded, and their levels, the rooftops of Paris, are now muted and brown-toned. Jak and Daxter are more realistically designed, and Rachet and Clack are toned down a bit. All in all, Nihilistic (with the help of the respective teams of the original franchises) has done a pretty good job of making the characters and game worlds come together. With all original voice work, they’ve gone a long way to make these games come together.
Ultimately, that means little when the game actually gets going. Playable only with the Move controller, PlayStation Move Heroes takes our three duos, and plops them down in different arenas based upon areas from their respective franchises. The five different minigames roll out here, and depending on what game is being played, players will be able to choose one or the other of the three duos. So sometimes Jax will be playable, and another time Daxter will be.
That second character can show up, however, as a disembodied cursor that a second player character can control. It’s a lot like the second character in Mario Galaxy, although it’s a lot more helpful, collecting necessary crystals and throwing grenades. Co-op play is pretty fun, and is more dynamic than Mario’s version of disembodied action.
So by now I suspect you’re wondering what the heck are the minigames. There are five of them, and they all play somewhat like the platformers the characters come from, but there’s a little bit more to. Disc is a version of Frisbee, where the player runs around grabbing discs to throw around the levels. Once in the air, the disc can be controlled with the Move controller, and guided to collect crystals and trapped aliens in cages. Bowling is much the same, where players are throwing explosive balls that can be controlled after letting go. This mode was a bit harder, as blasting through the caged aliens required a little bit more forethought.
Whip mode plays a lot like a normal platforming Rachet game. Players control their character with the analog stick on the Navigation controller, and whip enemies and boxes as if they were doing it in real life. Snapping back at the right time does extra damage, and is also a fun application of the technology. Finally, the last two minigames are much like the Whip mode. Gun lets players use guns in areas very similar to the Whip levels, and they’ll be tasked with collecting crystals and items to take out enemies. Melee let’s players run around many of the same areas, but they have to use Rachet’s wrench, or Sly’s cane, for example, to destroy enemies and boxes. These last modes share a lot similar, but using the Move controller, they feel quite different, as the gun mode you’re pointing at the screen, and Melee uses waggle. All in all, they’re unique applications of the weapons, and I almost feel like the different play styles could be applied to a real platformer really well.
If a specific mission is a little too hard, each of the characters have special moves that they can perform. For example, in the Disc Mission, Clank can cause the disc to zap nearby objects as long as he gets close. Bently, instead, will bring up indicators to show where hidden aliens might be. Helpful indeed!
Finally, once players complete in the normal challenges, there are the Diamond challenges which are extra difficult. In total, there are 57 missions in total, and collectables and hidden items throughout them. Each of the five modes and levels have leaderboards for both single and co-op play. While the levels themselves are pretty easy to pass, racking up the high scores is really the hard part.
All in all, PlayStation Move Heroes feels like a fun middle ground between the casual gaming of motion controlled games and the hard core platformers these characters are known for. It feels like much of their actions and attacks boiled down to minigames, which isn’t a problem. It’s fun, and I had a great time returning to these guys.