Callabrantus’ Top Three PSN Picks for 2009

The end of 2009 is almost upon us, and what a great year it was for gaming! Some incredible indie titles made their way into homes this year, and it looks like 2010 is going to continue to roll with that momentum.

Though we love indie games at IGR (dur), we still have a soft spot for games no matter what platform they happen to land on, or even how big the publisher. While I enjoy games on the PC and Xbox 360, you’re most often going to find me planted in front of the TV with a SIXAXIS in my hands while I try to trounce a PS3 title. Xbox LIVE may be the king of the online experience, but the PSN is no slouch, and has tons of great games to enjoy.  So I present to you: 

Callabrantus’ 2009 PSN List!

Picking faves is never easy, and it gets tougher when you love a mix of action titles, puzzlers and casual titles. Love ‘em or hate ‘em, these are the games that kept me most busy in 2009.

Super Stardust HD

Although it wasn’t released in 2009, I still find myself itching to play this frantic shoot-em-up from time to time. In a nutshell, you pilot a craft flying around global meteor defense grids, eliminating gigantic hunks of rock in a fashion akin to Asteroids, but with a control scheme similar to Smash TV. Large rocks break into kinda big rocks, which break into smaller rocks, etc, ultimately presenting you with point tokens or weapon upgrades.  Different weapons suit different types of meteors (rock, gold or ice).  But the rocks keep on a-comin’, and with literally thousands of comet fragments on screen at a time, you need to be on your toes to avoid destruction. Throw in a few enemy spacecraft with your destruction in mind, and you’d better hope that your toes are on their toes.

It took me months to play through it successfully, only to realize that there is so much more to this game. A successful completion starts the game again, with your score intact, and a higher difficulty level to tackle. A check of the leaderboard will make it clear that those interested in racking up top score had better be prepared to play through a few times.

That’s the Sound of the Man…Workin’ on the Chain… (Oh Don’t You Know?)

My advice is this: Get used to using your boost attack to chain point tokens. Picking up point tokens while in a boost will attach a multiplier value for each token you manage to grab in that state. This is the best (and really, the only) way to get a super high score. With this in mind, and the possibility of attaining a 10X multiplier by staying alive long enough (I still can’t top 9X), you can see how the points will rack up. If racking up a score gets dull, take on time trials, or even Survival mode, and see how long you can stay alive amidst a constantly increasing difficulty level.

Super Stardust HD by Sony Computer Entertainment America is available on the PLAYSTATION Network Price – $9.99 USD. Solo pack/Co-op Pack add-on price: $4.99 each, or $7.99 bundled.

If you want a completely different spin on the same theme, give Everyday Shooter a try.

Zen Pinball

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3edmfdaBuTo

I spent more time playing pinball in college than I should have in front of the pinball machine at the student pub (especially when it was Star Trek: TNG). I’ve always found that the video game adaptations of the pinball experience have been somewhat lackluster.

Enter Zen Pinball, the self-named PSN exclusive version of the engine Zen Studios brought to the Xbox 360 with Pinball FX.  It comes with 4 tables, with one downloadable table and a Ninja Gaiden 2 table to appear…uh…two months ago…so I suppose it will be here soon.

Pinball physics have never been so tight and responsive in a video game. You need to find the sweet spots on the tables if you hope to excel.  Learn to “nudge” the table at just the right moment, and even a gutter ball can be saved.  Stay focused though, because every once in a while, your ball will nudge ever so slightly off course by “imperfections” in the table. Sometimes it will save you; other times, it will ruin your day. My personal favorite tables are Tesla, Shaman and the Street Fighter 2 Tribute table.

Be the Ball (nananananana….)

Into modding your cabinet? You can tweak all the settings and angles to make your game as tough or as easy as you would like. Take an online challenge and see you fare against the reigning pinball wizards.

Zen Pinball by Zen Studios is available on the PLAYSTATION Network. Price: $9.99 USD. SF2 table add-on price: $2.49 USD

Want to see some of the greatest pinball cabinets of all time? Check out The William’s Collection for PS3, Xbox 360, Wii and PS2.

Fl0wer

Jenova Chen (of Fl0w fame) is back, with Fl0wer. With this title, he proves that while SIXAXIS motion-control scheme was poorly thought out, there are still a few games that can make it work in ways conventional game designers may have overlooked.

I Am a Leaf on the Wind!

Flower is a far more colorful experience than its predecessor, and it takes the motion control scheme into the third dimension. And the concept is simplicity itself: You are the wind. You start with a single flower petal in your gentle embrace, and by moving the SIXAXIS, you control where the breeze will travel, carrying the flower petal with it. By connecting with flowers in your path, they will give up additional petals.

Different petals release different musical notes, and eventually you not only control a breeze, but a swirling, heaving orchestra of sounds. Move your petals across a dingy, mechanical landscape to bring beauty and color back to the world. It all leads to a finale that has to be seen and heard to be believed.

Fl0wer by Sony Computer Entertainment America – PSN Network – $9.99 USD
Check out Fl0w on the PSN to see the game that started it all.

2009 was good to us gamer-types, and 2010 is shaping up to give us all kinds of new game experiences to sink our hooks into. With Natal and…whatever Sony plans to name its motion control device both scheduled to hit shelves, there’s no telling what directions new games on the PSN will follow.  One way of the next, Indie Game Reviewer will be here, bringing you the highlights and the low points.

See you in 2010! Merry Christmas and Happy New Year from adam@indiegamereviewer.com!

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