Review: Console Saga (PSM)
As PlayStation Mobile games go, some are worth playing and some not. Even fewer are worth reviewing, but that’s honestly no excuse. So I got my hands onto Thomas Hopper’s newest, and possibly last, PlayStation Mobile game Console Saga. It’s a platforming game at its core with a tablespoon of side-scrolling shooter and a half cup of Spiderman’s web swinging ability.
Console Saga was clearly designed with the old school gamer in mind. This is no walk in the park, harkening back to a time when games were much less forgiving. When you were allotted three lives and losing those meant seeing the dreaded “Game Over” screen — or in the case of Console Saga, “DEAD” is the message you’ll receive. Whatever the end result, starting over at the beginning of the level led to the same conclusion: you got better at the game.
In Console Saga, you play as a classic handheld video game console from 80’s some might remember. She can run, jump, shoot and swing. The story is a bit on the thin side. Our female protagonist is awakened by the rising of the green moon and is seemingly self motivated into eliminating the corruption found throughout classic gaming code. The basic objective is to get to the end of the level while collecting these lost pages. That, and besting your quickest level completion time are the two big reasons to go back and replay anything.
Pro tip: Press the d-pad down to push the camera down and see more of the level below.
There are four level bosses, each preceded by three retro-themed levels — my favorite being that of the Sonic inspired levels. They look really good in a stripped down simplistic sort of way, and there is much left to be desired. For starters, the enemies are the same throughout the game. I would’ve liked to see some variety specific to each themed world. There are plenty of enemies and all have that very Thomas Hopper look to them. They each serve a purpose such as the pacing ground enemy, bouncing enemy, flying enemy, wall-mounted shooting plant, and even a Thwomp-ish enemy. One touch or hit from any enemy will send you back to the last checkpoint.
The platforming in each level is an acquired taste. By about halfway through the game, as I started to become more familiar with the swinging mechanic, it became apparent that this was the quickest way to get through most of the levels. Furthermore, collecting all the pages in a level often meant taking some risky leaps of faith and latching onto the underneath of a platform I was recently atop. Toward the end of every level, I couldn’t help but feel that jumping was an undervalued mechanic during the designing process. There is one vertical level, however, that seemed to hit the mark perfectly between jumping (via jump pads), shooting and swinging.
Our portable gaming heroine is equipped with a blaster of sorts. Every level begins with a basic blaster having a slow rate of fire, weak ammo and a less threatening look to it. Occasionally, destroyed enemies will drop these processing chips that will level up the blaster to the point where it is much larger, fires very quickly and ammo takes out enemies in one hit. However, die one time and it’s back to the basics again. To get through a level in one death had new meaning and was a very rewarding experience.
Pro tip: Press up when firing the blaster to shoot up at enemies. While swinging, shoot in the opposite direction to swing higher.
The hidden gem of Console Saga comes in the form of the Random Challenge, a custom level generator. It’s less “random” than it is challenging due to the fact that the same level is generated when the same characters are entered into the keyboard. Tucked away at the far right side of the level selection screen is where one might find the Random Challenge, and there isn’t a combination I’ve tried that wasn’t tough as nails. In fact, entering “psnstores” creates quite the wall of spinning-blades-of-death to get by.
As far as PSM games go, Console Saga is Thomas Hopper’s most complete feeling platformer. Though, I’m not a fan of floaty jumping or the snapping camera action experienced when juking left and right quickly on the d-pad. I also would’ve preferred analog stick controls and some online leaderboards while we’re at it. Having played as much as I have, and considering the wonderfully challenging and addictive level generator, this is one of only a few PSM games I’m keeping installed.
A copy of this game was provided by the publisher for review purposes. For more info on our review policy click here.
What I Like:
- Challenging, but doable gameplay
- Inspired retro graphics
- Smooth framerate
- Solid swinging mechanic
- Satisfying weapon upgrade system
- Infinitely replayable custom level generator
What I Dislike:
- No analog stick controls
- No online leaderboards
- Floaty jumps lead to easily missing a landing
- Twitchy left-to-right camera action
- I hate the boss(es)! But cool that he's in 3D