Fighting games on handheld consoles are something of a weird combination. Obviously the big problem is that unless there happens to be a PSP-player with the same game in the same room (and that room isn’t an airline cabin), I will be playing against the computer. Playing fighters against the computer is never ideal, and in many cases it can downright spoil the game due to cheap AI.
Yet I’ve put more hours into Tekken: Dark Resurrection (warning: clumsy and hilarious Flash site) and now Soul Calibur: Broken Destiny than their big-screen incarnations, much as I love Soul Calibur IV. Leaving out long flights, what makes me come back to these games?
I think it’s a combination of very quick, very short games which keeps me distracted when I’m not up for a more involved game and the character creation mode, shared by both of these PSP fighters. I spend probably more time in character creation than actually fighting. It’s a creative challenge, really – can I make this character look better just by changing the colors of his equipment? Can I make this hair work? I realize it’s dress-up, playing with dolls, really. In this PSP version, the character creation does not affect the way the character plays, so you can try out different looks without crippling your game, which was a problem in Soul Calibur IV.
It helps that Soul Calibur is really an excellent game. I’ve found several favorite characters in each instalment of the series, and the way how differently the characters play really keeps it fresh. The PSP version works just as well as the big-screen versions and I actually find the mechanics somewhat improved from Soul Calibur IV (I couldn’t tell how, exactly, they just feel better). Also, no ridiculous Star Wars characters this time around. Kratos from God Of War series is a very good fit in the character roster, even if he feels a bit cheap.