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PSP  header logo

EA Replay

For: PSP

The Play It Again Sham

Product: EA Replay | Developer: EA Canada | Publisher: Electronic Arts | Format: PSP | Genre: Action, Adventure, Conversion, Multiplayer, Racing | Players: 1-2 | Networking: wireless (adhoc) | Version: US
 
EA Replay PSP, thumbnail 1
When I split up from my wife, I almost immediately conformed to the male stereotype. Rather than bothering with going out and meeting new women, I reasoned, the best thing to do was to dig out the little black book, and try and reheat some old soufflés.

These days, the little black book has been conveniently replaced by Friends Reunited. So a few emails and even more lies later I found myself sat in a pub in London opposite the girl I lost my virginity to.

I was worried about seeing her again, 14 years on. However, after the initial awkwardness, we soon began to enjoy each other's company – and the afternoon passed in a flash of laughter and reminiscence. But it was when I considered the afternoon's events afterwards that I realised that we were both kidding ourselves. We were both strangers with just a past in common. When the conversation turned to now, we had no frame of reference. She didn't even know who Muse were!

Since then, I've thought a lot about that day, and how I wished it had never happened. When I now think of Lucy, I no longer picture an attractive if slightly Gothic 18-year-old girl. I see a knackered old housewife, re-training to sell make-up.

I'm reminded of this recently, having endured EA Replay, a collection of what the packaging describes as '14 hot classics' but could be more realistically referred to as 'a collection of three Road Rash games, plus Desert Strike, Jungle Strike, Syndicate, a couple of Wing Commander games, and a load you've probably never heard of.'

Deep breath, in alphabetical order: B.O.B is a terrible platform game, Budokan is an awful fighting game, Desert Strike is a great helicopter shoot-'em-up, Jungle Strike its equally great sequel, Haunting Starring Polterguy is an utterly appalling isometric action game, Mutant League Football a so-so fantasy sports game, Road Rashes I through III are decent racers where you also hit people, Syndicate a strategic shooter, Ultima The Black Gate an unwieldy and dated RPG, Virtual Pinball a crime against pinball games, and Wing Commander and Wing Commander The Secret Missions are terrible versions of good games.

Whilst those seeing the world through rose-tinted spectacles will argue with the above summaries, the simple fact remains that unlike the recent Sega or Capcom PSP retro collections, there's not one game on here which is as good as you remember.

This is mainly because the titles are from the SNES or Mega Drive iterations, which were often ports of superior versions themselves. The three Road Rash games, the two Strikes, and Mutant League Football remain accurate and enjoyable, but the others are ugly, clumsy abominations.

Indeed, from the evidence here, newcomers would find it difficult to understand why Wing Commander was the biggest gaming franchise of its day, or what makes the Ultima series so special. Young scamps might also wonder what the '90s were actually like, if the remaining games are considered 'classics' of the era.

Still, if you're into playing poor conversions of games you've never heard of, each can be played in original 4:3, or stretched to fill the PSP's widescreen. In-game tutorials comprise nothing more than an image displaying controllers, so those unfamiliar with the original games will find themselves often confused about what to do initially. But the mechanics of each are easily fathomable within a few minutes or so, which is handy, given the manual is sketchy at best.

Add to this the fact that these lazy ports benefit from none of the bonus bolt-ons we've seen in other retro compilations – apart from some terrible artwork, and tips which mainly consist of giving away codes to make the games easier, but no less awful – and you've got a car crash of a re-release that sullies the memory of games which may have been ahead of their time, but rarely stand the test of it.

Perhaps the only saving grace is that you can save each game whenever you like – but even the convenience of this is secondary to turning the thing off.

A far better approach for EA Replay would have been to concentrate on making fewer games more suitable to the PSP audience. Bespoke versions of the Strike or Road Rash games would certainly boast merit. Given a fresh lick of paint, both franchises would happily win new fans.

As it stands, there are 14 terrible versions of eight games you'd never choose to play, and six you would purely for nostalgia value. But only if you were a sadist.

Well worth avoiding, these are the video game equivalents of seeing that first love once again. Some memories should remain just those – far better to reminisce, rather than know for a fact they've aged terribly. And now have four children by three different fathers.

EA Replay is available in the US. The UK release date is set for March 16th.
 
EA Replay
Reviewer photo
Simon Byron | 14 March 2007
Shoddy conversions of shoddy conversions – some of these weren't worth playing in the first place, let alone again
 
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