Power Stone Collection
Originally released for Sega's Dreamcast console, the Power Stone games provided great joy to the gamers who invested in Sega's unfortunate flop. Not just a staged fighting game they include an array of weapons, active arenas and power-ups created in the wildest dreams of Japanese designers. It doesn't try to be realistic, close combat punching and kicking is usually a second best to picking up a weapon or object to pound your opponent. Sometimes it appears a bit hectic and fights are closer to resembling 2 irate bulls in a china shop than artful masters of fighting.
The PSP version has been slightly enhanced from the originals but overall they're pretty much identical. Extras such as mini-games, different modes and new weaponry do add a glossy shine but don't really enhance the gameplay - not that it's a problem because it already has much to offer.
Power Stone follows the popular theme of a best of 3 rounds to win a stage and as you progress through the 8 stages it becomes increasingly difficult before you face the big cheese on the last level. However, there are plenty of additions which separate Power Stone from other beat `em up games like Tekken. Firstly, the 3D arena you battle in is full of objects that can thrown at your adversary. Secondly, power-ups and weapons freely litter the ground to help give you an upper hand if you're in the right place at the right time. But perhaps the most significant difference is the Power Stones. Each fight commences with you and your enemy holding 1 Power Stone, at some point a 3rd Power Stone will drop into the arena for collection. If you manage to collect this Stone and beat the other Stone out of you opponent so you hold all 3 then you become a super-charged inflictor of damage! As well as being able to perform special moves you get a huge increase in power so make sure you make the most of your superiority whilst you can.
It's not exactly easy to collect all 3 stones because the constant flow of weapons and objects lying around means power swings quite freely between the 2 characters. 1 second you're creaming your opponent and about to reach full power and the next second he's lobbed a box at your head from the other side of the battleground and your stumbling around looking for the next weapon. Because the balance of power changes so frantically it can feel that skill isn't the most important factor - getting a more powerful weapon at the right time is what tips the balance- Either way, it's lots of fun.
The sequel, Power Stone 2, offers much of the same but with optional 4 player fighting and an added story mode to make it a bit more appealing to single players. To be honest, you aren't really gonna buy this game for the solo adventure though - it's all about multiplayer frenzied fighting! You can use ad-hoc multiplayer mode to get 4 players on the go at the same time but I personally found that to be a bit too messy on the small screen.
Graphically it looks sound and even with so much happening on screen the PSP does the game justice and will give you lots of fun if you're got some friends round over Xmas. Because its yet another release on the PSP which is just an old game with a makeover it can't be given a higher rating than 7, even though it is a very appealing multiplayer game.
7 out of 10