Let's see now. If we lived in a world where mad colours, outlandish characters and music were the key ingredients to making games fly off shelves... well, we'd all be hippies probably. So thank god we don't, eh? But at least it'd mean games like We Love Katamari and Gitaroo Man would be more commercially successful than they have been in real life.
The latter was a rhythm-action game which combined quirky humour (and we don't mean that in a patronising sense - it's genuinely amusing) with utterly addictive gameplay, but because it didn't feature any of the current holy trinity of high-calibre weaponry, women with clothes allergies or bandanna-wearing gangsters spraying achingly cool tags all over generic cityscapes, the games-buying public never really took to it.
Gitaroo Man Lives! will try to right that wrong when it's released for PSP later this year, and regardless of whether it actually makes any money or not it looks like it'll be the most fun to be had on PSP that doesn't come with an '18' in a red circle.
The game is broken into a series of song-based levels. There are three distinct phases to most of these: Charge, Battle and Final, and they're often spliced into the game in a different order to keep you on your toes. The Charge portion sees you filling your health bar by playing along to the music; Battle is a combination of defence and assault and Final is the last stretch in which you press home the killer rhythmic blow.
Attacking and charging is achieved by moving the analogue nub in the direction of an oncoming line of notes, then hitting X as the notes pass under a dot in the centre of the screen. The thrill of playing along to a wide variety of tunes while giving a space invader a pasting is palpable, yet painful: the nub doesn't quite provide the precise aiming needed for more complex ditties yet, and trying to master complicated tunes may see your thumb wrenched off entirely. Blocking, in turn, is performed by hitting the face keys as they scroll past.
Minor control issue aside, Gitaroo Man Lives! is brilliant fun and its PSP release will be the perfect opportunity for the uninitiated to discover this great game.
Looking glorious on PSP, GML! will blister your fingers in the best way possible.