Downloadable games were – and still are – a huge part of the industry, but what happens when you are unable to connect to a solid internet connection or have to manage tight bandwidth caps? Regrettably, not everyone has choices when it comes to a Internet Service Provider (ISP) here in North America. Closing out the current generation, Sony wants to help those that weren’t able to download the best PlayStation Network titles by grouping them together into compilations. The first one offers four classic PlayStation Network titles: Fat Princess, When Vikings Attack!, Sound Shapes and Tokyo Jungle.
Acting as a buffer between customers and downloadable titles, the retail disc simply stores the data for each of the games, which must be installed before playing. The disc must also remain in the PS3 as well at all times, otherwise you would be able to install all the games and pass the disc off to a friend. None of the games feature cross-buy functionality either, so owning the disc will not give you access to the downloadable version of the game on PSN.
Back when it was released in 2009, Fat Princess suffered from numerous launch issues that devastated the online community for the game. The cute cel-shaded action game features addicting online multiplayer, but a solid offline mode with four-player local multiplayer as well. The bread and butter for the game came from playing online with up to 32-players with AI controlled bots to fill in any empty spots. Most, if not all of the lag and connections issues have been squashed and while the community may be small, I had no trouble finding matches to join.
Not only are you able to slaughter other charming characters while taunting, Fat Princess features various game modes to capture outposts and as the name implies; rescue your princess. Rescuing the princess, the most engaging mode, requires teamwork and basic planning. Of course, you may rush an unorganized team and win in less than a minute – I’ve been on both sides of this. The basic character class poses no threat, but pick up a hat and you will be transferred into a new class. Collecting resources such as stone and wood, you are able to upgrade each class, as well as build catapults to launch yourself across the map and repair broken doors to improve your castle’s defense. The classes are the standard role-playing variety, featuring melee, ranged, magic users and healers, each with an advanced class. The DLC classes expand upon the basic units by adding Giants, Ninjas and Pirates, because every game is better with Ninjas and Pirates, right?
The only game I didn’t have any knowledge of prior was When Vikings Attack! For someone who owns a few hundred PSN titles, I was surprised to find a game that I not only didn’t own, but have never played. Featuring both versus and cooperative gameplay, When Vikings Attack! is another title that focuses on online multiplayer, but can be enjoyed offline as well. The gameplay is quite simple, playing with only two buttons as you move your group of characters and toss objects at the invading hordes of Vikings. The cartoon visual style fits the humor-filled game well as you toss anything from railings, cars and anything else that will help you thin out the Vikings.
Moving away from the action oriented online gameplay of the first two games, Sound Shapes quickly became my favorite title in the compilation. A 2D platformer, Sound Shapes allows you to get in touch with your creative side, producing a catchy beat and making your way across dozens of levels. Featuring music from Beck and Deadmau5, everything within this unique platformer produces sound and moves with a beat. The main game may be quite easy to complete, but the unlockable challenges provide hours of entertainment (and frustration) as you attempt to complete them. Add a level editor into the mix and Sound Shapes will keep anyone busy for a long time.
That leaves us with the quirkiest title of the four games: Tokyo Jungle. Taking place in a post-apocalyptic world where humans have been eradicated, animals have returned to their feral instincts. Originally seeing a retail release in Japan, Tokyo Jungle came to the West as a downloadable title that didn’t lose any of its charm. Taking control of various species of animals, starting off with a yapping pomeranian, you must hunt other animals for food, and claim territories in order to breed. After impressing a worthy mate, you pop out a handful of offspring, which are now in your control as you try and survive for the most consecutive days(years) possible. New animals become unlocked as you progress through the game, including gazelle’s, which focus on avoiding predators, lions, and even a panda.
If you were to buy all four of these games separately on the PlayStation Network, they would cost roughly a handful of dollars more than this retail compilation. It’s a great deal for those that missed the initial release of all four of the titles or is unable to connect to PSN. I would prefer the games would play instantly off the disk instead of requiring them to be installed, but the game is still a deal if you haven’t purchased any of the titles before.
Note: The Best of PlayStation Network Vol. 1 review was written on the final retail version of the game provided to us for review.