|System: PSP||Review Rating Legend|
|Dev: Just Add Water||1.0 - 1.9 = Avoid||4.0 - 4.4 = Great|
|Pub: Just Add Water||2.0 - 2.4 = Poor||4.5 - 4.9 = Must Buy|
|Release: July 20, 2010||2.5 - 2.9 = Average||5.0 = The Best|
|Players: 1||3.0 - 3.4 = Fair|
|ESRB Rating: Everyone||3.5 - 3.9 = Good|
by Amanda L. Kondolojy
When you think of dual-stick shoot-em-up games, you probably don't think of the PSP. Namely, because the PSP only has a single analog stick, the dual-stick shoot-em-up format is completely incompatible with the console. Naturally, when I heard that Gravity Crash (a successful shoot-em-up for the PlayStation 3) was coming to the PSP, I was skeptical. The design of the PSP hardware would make this title nearly unplayable, and I was fully prepared to rip into it with plenty of enthusiasm. However, my plan hit a bit of a snag about five minutes in. The problem was that the game was playable. In fact, I would go as far as to say it was good!
The game has a simple premise. Fly around in a neon-colored spaceship and destroy objects around you. The game has a cute little story about a lazy space janitor who hasn't been pulling his weight lately. The punishment for this laziness is having to clean up a bunch of junk across the universe. Of course, just shooting things would make life a bit too easy. Our faithful janitor also has to pick up stray spacemen who have been stranded!
One of the things that makes Gravity Crash unique is the way it approaches the game's physics. When you first start playing, you are given three choices for control: classic, dual, and anti-gravity. The classic controls are the hardest to master and involve weighing your spacecraft's thrust against the gravitational pull of orbital bodies in the game's universe. Of course, the larger the body, the more pull it will have so you'll have to fly smart in order to succeed with the classical setup. You'll also have only one button to fire your weapon with, which means you'll have to be precise with your aim. The dual setup still retains the gravitational elements of the game, but makes flying a bit smoother. The dual setup also uses the PSP's face buttons as a faux secondary analog stick. If, for instance, you want to shoot something directly under you, you can use the X button to fire your weapon southward no matter which direction you are facing. The third control scheme is anti-gravity, and it represents the easiest of the three control schemes. This mode keeps the smooth sailing and directional firing of the dual control method, but makes the game easier by getting rid of all the planetary gravitational fields. Although it may be easy to think this mode gets rid of all the challenge, it feels more like training wheels. You'll still have to pedal yourself.
The main challenge in Gravity Crash Portable comes not from the pull of gravity or the enemies that populate each level, but from the environment. The game's levels are designed like long, maze-like caverns and can be quite difficult to navigate. Unless you use the auto-shield function (which is a must if you haven't played a shoot-em-up in awhile), any contact with planetary terrain instantly turns your ship into space dust.
Of course, the one exception to this rule is when you have to make an emergency landing to pick up astronaut survivors. This is the trickiest part of the game, as you will have to manage the fine art of floating above deathly terrain and touching down with extreme care. If you have the gravity function on, this is especially difficult, as one wrong thrust will send not only your ship, but also the hapless astronauts below into a fiery oblivion. Mastering this feature definitely takes some time, but that only adds to the charm of this title.
Due to its high-level of difficulty, Gravity Crash Portable won't be for everyone. Though it doesn't reach the insane levels of complexity like the legendary shoot-em-up title Ikaruga, the hardest control scheme definitely provides a challenge for even the most seasoned shoot-em-up fan. However, the great thing about Gravity Crash is the easier control configuration makes most levels at least passable (getting high scores is still a challenge) and enjoyable to gamers who aren't necessarily shoot-em-up enthusiasts.