10 most impressive PSN games ever
9th Mar 2012 | 17:19
Last week we rounded up ten of what we think are the most impressive Xbox Live Arcade games and got 'em down in list format.
This week we're giving Sony's digital download platform some recognition too.
Just like with last weeks XBLA games, there are so many fantastic titles out there that we couldn't possibly put them all on one list. We've tried to include a rounded and balanced selection of games, but if we've missed out any of your favourites don't hesitate to show them some love in the comments below. That's what they're there for.
So to kick us off...
Hello Games had a harder time getting Joe Danger on to PSN than you'd probably imagine. After toiling away on the game for years the response from publishers wasn't really what they hoped to hear.
Here's some real examples of what Hello Games had to listen to:
"Name me one popular game with motorbikes," said one publisher.
"Collecting giant coins feels unrealistic to me," was another rebuff.
"I can see this working as a Facebook app," said a different idiot.
"We love the theme, but with a different game." What does that even mean?!
"Can Joe be a monkey? We like monkeys," said another, while stroking a stuffed monkey and flinging his own poo around the room.
And our personal, face-palming favourite: "We want games that are less about fun right now." Really? REALLY?!
So, as you can see, getting a game out for public consumption is harder than you might think. Which is why we want to punch the air and cheer even more knowing that Joe Danger was a success, selling 50,000 copies in its first week. It is an absolute joy to play, stuffed full of arcadey goodness. One of PSN's best.
Braid is another game belonging to the ever popular platforming genre, but this one boasts a beautiful art style, fantastic soundtrack and mind-bending puzzles.
The level design is top-notch, and while the story is told mainly through books that you walk past before each level, there's a great twist near the end that you won't see coming.
There's also an alternate ending, though you have to work bloody hard to unlock it.
The first thing you'll notice upon starting Outland is just how damn good the visuals are. The art style is fantastic - the ancient scenery and the way the silhouettes in the foreground contrast with the lighter background is very striking.
Then you'll realise just how smooth and responsive the game feels. The controls in Outland are just right, and it has buttery smooth animation to go along with it. It's as good as 2D platformers get.
The whole switching between light and dark essence thing works wonderfully too, and mastering this ability and swiftly solving various challenges and puzzles provides some unexpected but enjoyable challenges. Swapping between light and dark as you dart through various colour-coded traps may prove a little difficult at first, but time your switches properly and you'll feel like a complete bad ass when you pull it off.
Speaking of challenges - the boss fights here can be very hard, but the bosses all have tell-tale attack patterns, so once you figure out the correct technique, it's all about tight execution. If you're looking for some extra enjoyment out of the game you can also take a crack at co-op.
You've got to love Double Fine. They develop some of the most unique games around. Who else has made a puzzle game about Russian dolls? No one, that's who - not like Stacking, at least.
In Stacking, you play as little Charlie Blackmore - the smallest Russian doll around, and you solve puzzles by 'stacking' in to bigger dolls and using their special abilities. For example, you can stack in to a grizzly bear doll and use its growl ability to scare other dolls. A bigger doll might have the ability to perform an uppercut, which aside from physically abusing the other inhabitants of the world, also has puzzle-solving uses.
Abilities sometimes have to be rapidly combined as well. So for example you might need to use one doll to squeeze out a guff, and then hop in to another that can light a flame to cause an explosion.
Most, if not all, puzzles have multiple solutions and each levels has its own 'Hijinks' which ask you to get up to no good by doing five of this and ten of that, and what not, so there's plenty to keep gamers shuffling around.
Lara Croft and the Guardian of Light
This download-only spin-off title was quite a departure from the games old Lara usually finds herself in in. It utilised a top-down perspective, and it featured co-op! Madness!
Fortunately for us, Crystal Dynamic's departure from the traditional Tomb Raider formula resulted in a fantastic multiplayer adventure with a great balance of puzzles, platforming and action. And there's plenty of room for griefing your partner as well, if you're in to that kind of stuff.
We don't know what possessed Crystal Dynamics to make this game, but it works, and the nature in which players are dependant on each others abilities for the success of each level makes for great co-operative gameplay. More please, Crystal.
On paper, Flower sounds a bit too fruity to support a full gameplay experience. You control the wind and blow a petal around a field, but actually that's kind of what makes it so brilliant. Flower turned out to be the most blissful gaming experiences your digital coins can buy. It's also one of the few games where the Sixaxis controls actually work.
Each level starts with just a single petal emerging into a dreary world devoid of colour and life, the objective is to gently guide this petal towards closed up flowers to collect their petals. Each time you nudge in to a flower it blossoms with life and restores a little colour to the world.
Flower looks stunning in motion and is accompanied with the beautiful ethereal soundtrack, it's a game that you can chill out to and just experience.
The PixelJunk series of games aren't the deepest games around, but they are great to look at and damn fun to play - PixelJunk Eden is arguably the best example of this trend.
If you've never played a PixelJunk game before you might be taken aback by how aesthetically weird it is the first time you load it up. That's okay, just roll with it. Give it time and you'll find the simplistic visual style and clean electronic beats make it all the more memorable. Seriously, that music will get right into your head and set up shop.
Gameplay revolves around a small creature know as a "Grimp", which the player assumes control of and guides different plant-like structures by jumping and swinging. The player must gather pollen and use it to activate seeds, which in turn will create new structures that allow you to climb higher and grab the "Spectra", completing the level.
It simple, clean, addictive fun. There's a demo available on PSN - seriously, you just have to try it for yourself.
You're never hard pressed to find a twin-stick zombie shooter on PSN, but Dead Nation is the one that stands ahead of the pack.
Rather than the gameplay focusing solely on mowing down hordes of undead flesh-eaters in small arenas, Dead Nation actually has a plot, which is supported by gameplay that involves working your way through a level to reach a safehouse, collecting loot along the way, if you can get around the zombies that is.
Weapons are upgradable, giving your guns a much needed boost to power, rate of fire, clip size and such. And when we say "much needed", we mean much needed - the game can get quite tough at points.
Dead Nation can be played with a partner too, which we believe is the best way to play through the game. If you suddenly crave some twin-stick zombie action, Dead Nation's the game we'd recommend.
Worms 2: Armageddon
The original 2D Worms games were excellent, turn-based strategy games with plenty of weapons, and wacky humour. We'd say the series peaked with Worms: Armageddon and Worms World Party - both were great - but after becoming 3D, it began to lose its way.
With the cost of games development increasing it became harder to justify a simple 2D turn-based strategy game. But in XBLA, PSN and Steam, Team17 now have the perfect platform to return to the classic 2D Worms format, and they did.
Worms 2: Armageddon is the old Worms gameplay that you know and love, but refined and enhanced. One of the best Worms games yet.
Super Stardust HD
The Stardust series of games started back in 1993 on the Amiga, Atari STE, and DOS (thanks Wikipedia!), and essentially it was an Asteroids clone but a heck of a lot prettier.
Fourteen years later, the same developer - now operating under the name Housemarque - created Super Stardust HD.
It still retains that Asteroids-like gameplay, but now it's been infused with the same kind of fast-paced action and flashy, neon visuals as Geometry Wars, and runs in 1080p at 60 frames a second. Delicious.
It's just like a classic arcade game from the 80s - no story, no characters; just a high score to beat - and ultimately benefits from that as it allowed Housemarque to focus purely on honing and refining the gameplay. As a result, we've got a marvellous game with tight controls, stunning visuals and pure fun driving it.