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Gaming Evolution
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Gaming Evolution
Gaming Evolution
Publisher By: Koei
Developed By: Inis
Genre: Music Action
Players: 1-2
Rated: E (Everyone)
Release Date: November 14, 2006
Written By: Matthew Prunty

Saving the universe from the forces of evil is a never-ending story. Itís usually the unsuspecting person who inherits amazing powers and is responsible for keeping everything in order. Within Guitaroo Man Lives!, U-1 is the unlucky dote that is unnoticed by the girl he loves, and is bullied by fellow school mates. Then one day, his pup pal Puma reveals to him his family legacy and the legend known as Gitaroo Man. Does he have what it takes to save his planet, the people, and himself?

When you fire up your PSP units and select a new game, you are immediately thrown right into the game. Thereís a quick cut-scene that introduces gamers to U-1 and his pup, Puma. Once that passes, Puma teaches you the game controls through an interactive tutorialÖ. now isnít this weird? Within the tutorials, you are taught how to wield the famous gitaroo during battles and how to defend yourself from the forces of evil. Once the tutorial is over, you are automatically thrown into battle after a short cut-scene.

The controls within this game are rather simple, but you will notice as the game progress on, you are require to perform the necessary actions at a much faster rate, causing the battles to become more intense. The analogue stick is used to steer and follow a snaking path that appears on the screen. The path basically mimics the pitch of the particular tune that you will be playing. Along this path, you will require to press a corresponding button (A, X, O, Δ) to designate a stroke of the guitar. Because you have to following the path correctly, you are allowed more control over how the music turns out. If you donít follow the path correctly, you will get an ear piercing sound of missed notes, which Iím sure you donít want to here, so you will be forced to improve your skills. Beyond the analogue stick, you will also use the four action buttons (A, X, O, Δ). Depending on which phase of the battle you are in, you will either use one or all of these four buttons.

There is three phases to each encounter, Charge, Battle, and Final Phase. Within the Charge phase, you are basically building your health meter for when you enter the Battle phase. During this phase, you are required to follow the path also known as the Trace Line, with the analog stick. There will be points where you come across a Phrase Bar, you must press and hold the ĎOí button for the duration of the bar. The possible ratings that are used to determine if you are on pitch are miss, ok, good, and great. Great I used if you pressed the button exactly when it pass through the center point. Miss, of course is when you either press the button too early, or too late.

Once your health bar is filled up, or the Trace Line ends, you will enter the Battle phase. Within this mode, instead of building health, those same techniques from the Charge phase will be used to attack your opponents. But unlike the typical action title, the attacks are done in turns. After your turn is over, your enemy has the ability to attack you. He attacks via the action buttons (A, X, O, Δ). When he sends an attack your way, you will see one of the four action buttons head towards the center point from either the top, the bottom, the left, or even the right. You job is to press the corresponding button right when it pass the middle, to repel the attack. Each attack you miss will result in you taking physical damage. The final phase is generally used when you are about to deliver the final attack to your opponents.

The degree of difficulty is higher than what you would expect from this type of title. There are a total of 11 battles total, and by the 3rd one, you will notice the game get really difficult. The attack patterns you must avoid are even harder to stop, and you are require to be aware of everything thatís going on during the battle. You will also notice, as the difficulty gets harder and harder, some attacks performed by your enemies are harder to keep tabs on. During their sequence, you may get anywhere from 10 to 25 attacks thrown at you from all direction. This can be very frustrating at times, but helps you to improve your hand-eye coordination.

After the completion of each battle, you receive a final score and a grade. The grade is determined by how well you perform with your attacks and defense measures. Seeing how itís hard to et a perfect grade (A) within the game, many gamers will go back through each stage to see if they can out-due their previous performance in order to acquire a better score grade, and even a secret unlockable item.

Eager gamers shouldnít look forward to this game, if they want top-notch graphics. Seeing how the game is a direct port of the PS2 cult-classic, Gitaroo Mania: Love for the Original Guitaroo Man, you shouldnít expect the graphics to be much different for the console version. The team over at Inis did polish over the animations to ensure that they have a broader presence within the PSPís 4.3-inch LCD screen. There is something always going on within each levelís environment. An example of this would be when you are battling Flying-O within the main city. There are cars and people moving around within the surrounding area, while your entice musical battle is going on. Because of the lack of focus primarily on graphics, Gitaroo Man Lives! allows for multiple situations to go on within the game, while running at a smooth framerate.

Usually, most games either have solid gameplay mechanics and an ok musical score, or vise versa. But in the case of Gitaroo Man Lives!, you get a variety of music which includes Reggae, Latin, Rock and even Eurobeat. You control how each musical score sounds and plays out. If your button presses are on target, the music flows smoothly. If you stumble a bit, it will be noticeable within the tuneís sound.

To keep you knee deep within Gitaroo Man Lives!, Koei and Inis added a Vs. Mode and the new Duet Mode. Both work in a similar fashion to the simple-player mode, but each has its own uniqueness and utilizes the ad-hoc connection feature of the PSP. In Duet Mode, Gitaroo Man will team up with Kirah to go against a single enemy. Each character will perform their Charge phase, and then both enter the Battle phase together, attacking individually and at the same time. Within the Vs. Mode, the battle is over once someoneís power gauge/health meter reaches zero. If for some reason both you and your opponent manage to make it through the entire song, the person with the most juice in their meter will become the victor. These modes tie into the Single-player mode in the sense that the more levels you completes, the more battle arenas are made available to use.

There is also a collection option where you can view images that were acquire as you progress throughout the single-player mode. The Jukebox option allows you to jam to the intense beats you hear throughout the game, which you can also use are your personal music player if you are into this type of music.

Personal Thoughts
Gitaroo Man Lives is one of the most creative titles you can find on the PSP. Full of interactive battles and up-beat music, which will keep you jamming and playing for hours on end. Though this game is a solid product, it could of benefited from newer content, instead of being a straight port of the PS2 title. For those who are new to the series, will find an all-around title, worthy of hours of gameplay and enjoyment.


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