For those gamers who aren’t too fond of stunningly detailed models, realistic moving hair and shiny sweat dripping off muscular male athletes (Fight Night Round 3 if that’s your thing!) then the Japanese game development community has always seen fit to offer up some weird and wonderful gaming joys. LocoRoco anyone?
The original Gitaroo Man on the PS2 just happened to be one of those freakishly odd yet stunningly enjoyable titles. Starring a geeky child with a magic guitar, you simply prod the analogue stick in the correct direction and tap buttons in time with the music to complete the game.
It proved to be such a huge hit – not so in the Western world mind – that a PSP sequel of sorts was bound to happen sooner or later.
But with the PSP’s well documented handling frailties – we’re thinking of the bloody buggering analogue nub – surely Gitaroo Man Lives! has its work cut out.
As joyous as the original Gitaroo Man was, the fact it didn’t sell much over here means we’re obscenely lucky to be given a second chance to taste that sweet rhythm-based action.
The music trundles along. When you’re on the "attack", all you need do is manipulate the analogue nub to coincide with the twists and turns of the current guitar twang.
And when you’re on the back foot, you simply need to press the required button at the correct time to fend off any attacks to your own energy bar. That’s the way it continues throughout the entire game, until you’ve mastered the most obscenely difficult and twisty turny riff that Slash himself would be proud of.
It’s incredibly simple, yet so gorgeously addictive while it lasts. It’s not going to be to everyone’s taste of course. Just like a nice hot curry can’t be stomached by every lover of food out there.
The cutesy visuals may tempt you into thinking this is a kids’ game, but nothing could be further from the truth. In fact, if you’re not tempted to chuck your PSP against a wall within an hour of play, then you’re either blessed with the patience of a saint or are simply the world’s best gamer. Gitaroo Man Lives! is very bloody difficult.
If the music wasn’t up to par then, as great a concept as it is, it’ll fall straight on its arse. You won’t find any licensed tracks here or hardcore ‘rawking out’, but each track is just so damn hum-able that you can’t fail but be enthralled.
If you’re still dead set against the idea, then approach with caution. Though, chances are, you’ll be humming along with the rest of us soon enough.
For anyone interested in some music based PSP action, this is an essential purchase.