Sony's debut handheld has something for everyone... except a second analog thumbstick.

Electronic Arts (Criterion)


There's not much that can be said about Burnout Legends that hasn't already been mentioned earlier in my review of Burnout 3: Takedown.  You get the same crash 'em up, smash 'em up action, with very little removed to accommodate the portable format and a lot more from Burnout and Burnout 2: Point of Impact to make up for these minor shortcomings.

Just how does Burnout Legends compare to its console counterparts?  Let's start with the visuals.  They're not quite as good as they were on the Xbox or Playstation 2... but they're close.  You get slightly less picturesque backgrounds out of the deal, and the game's vehicles, while still just as bright 'n shiny as before, lack some of the detail they once had.  Nevertheless, you'll have no trouble recognizing all your favorite hangouts from Burnout 3, along with bonus tracks from the first two games.  Now, the frustration of racing through a congested airport and the tightest turns this side of Delpino Square is yours for the taking... if you actually want it!

The sound actually edges out the console versions slightly, with the roar of engines changing noticably from vehicle to vehicle and the teeth-clenching screech of cars scraping against the side rails in each track.  Unfortunately, the game is still saddled with over a dozen tunes from Electronic Arts' stable of flash-in-the-pan recording artists.  Unlike the Xbox version of Burnout 3, however, there's no release from the heavy metal heartache of Billy (Lacks) Talent and The Comeback Kid.  This is especially perplexing, since the PSP has native MP3 support... it would have been ridiculously easy to let the player tap into their own music collection, instead of forcing them to settle for the second-rate songs supplied by EA Trax.

This brings us to the control.  This is what really sets Burnout Legends ahead of the pack!  Rather than feeling too stiff and mechanical, like Ridge Racer, or too floaty, like WipeOut Pure, Burnout Legends achieves a perfect balance.  It's just tight enough to let you merge into the next lane without ramming into a nearby divider, but responsive enough to weave through tight turns and around dangerous hazards without much effort.  This razor-sharp control is what will keep Burnout Legends spinning in your PSP long after the system's other racing games have been permanently retired to their protective cases.

The gameplay is largely the same as it was in Burnout 3, with all of your favorite challenges included.  These include the standard races, the deliciously vicious road rage mode, the crash contests that have become a trademark of the series, and those accursed Burning Lap trials.  Hey, wait a minute, I didn't want THOSE!  These futile races against time are joined by the pursuit mode (a holdover from the second Burnout) as the least appealing of the many options available to the player.  Chasing after crooks could have been a lot of fun, if the criminals in question weren't given turbo-fueled tanks that are almost impossible to catch and even tougher to bring down.

Still, like the many cars you'll force into oil tankers and off the edges of cliffs, the other modes are a half ton of flaming fun.  Even the plain vanilla races are more entertaining when you can fight your way to the finish line, ramming your rivals into buildings and oncoming traffic.  Road rage is even better, challenging you to fold, spindle, and mutilate as many opponents as possible before your own badly damaged beater falls apart.  Then there's the crash mode... this loses a bit of its appeal thanks to the PSP's lengthy load times, but you'll still squeeze plenty of enjoyment from triggering fifteen car pile-ups if you're not obsessed with winning gold medals in every event.

When it was first released, the PSP was praised for its high-quality racing games, considered the best to ever hit a handheld console.  What's most impressive about Burnout Legends is that it's not only better than those excellent launch titles, but a whole lot better, with the variety, the tight control, and the addictive gameplay that Ridge Racer and WipeOut Pure were missing.  Just when you thought the bar for racing on the PSP was as high as it could go, Burnout Legends comes along and sets it firmly in the heavens!

Capcom (Digital Eclipse)


Consider this an apology for the rather silly review of Capcom Classics Collection I wrote last year.  It didn't give you much information about the games included or the quality of the emulation, opting instead for a "new journalism" approach that spent entirely too much time trying to sell a clumsy school reunion analogy. 

This time, I'm going to keep the irrelevant rambling to a minimum and concentrate on the game.  Forget new journalism... this review is gonna be old-school all the way, just as a good critique of a classic arcade collection should be.

So what will you find on Capcom Classics Collection Remix?  A surprising amount of fresh content, actually.  Players who were eagerly awaiting the second volume of Capcom Classics Collection (hinted at on the spine of the original) will find it right here on the PSP, with an almost entirely new selection of arcade favorites.

The only games that were already available on the Playstation 2 and Xbox  include Legendary Wings, Forgotten Worlds, Final Fight, Section Z, and Bionic Commando.  They're all such accurate translations that you'll feel as though you snuck out of an 80's arcade with bulging pockets and a shrink ray tightly clutched in one hand.  Unfortunately, the PSP does break the illusion of arcade perfection with its blurry screen and that wretched D-pad.

The system's flaws hurt all of the games in the collection to varying degrees.  You'll barely notice the blurring in titles with large characters and intricately detailed backgrounds, but if you plan to spend more than a couple of minutes with Black Tiger or Side Arms, you'd better schedule an appointment with your optomotrist first!  As for the crappy D-pad, you can always play games with the more responsive analog nub instead.  The nub works especially well when steering your car through the danger-filled wastelands of Speed Rumbler.

Oh, Speed Rumbler... how I wish I could love you.  You're a clever pairing of the run 'n gun action of Commando and the teeth-clenching vehicular combat of the Mad Max films.  Yet you somehow manage to ruin it all with cheap gameplay, restrictive time limits, and situations that are almost impossible to survive.  Barely touching the edges of cliffs is enough to blow up your whole damn car, enormous semi trailers loaded with missiles are only slightly slower than your own vehicle, and although you can escape your car when it bursts into flames, you're so helpless without it that you can't possibly survive for more than a few seconds.  So much promise, yet so much wasted potential.  For shame, Capcom!

Luckily, the other games on the collection are more than just great ideas.  I loved Chiki Chiki Boys on the Sega Genesis, and now it's back, with the same vibrant colors and adorable characters but a new name.  Whatever you call it, Mega Twins is an irresistable side-scrolling platformer despite its total lack of depth.  Magic Sword doesn't have that charm, but the mindless medievel gameplay is largely the same... you just have more monsters to slay and nearly a hundred floors to visit, each holding prisoners who become loyal allies once you spring them from their cells.

Final Fight and its more outrageous cousin Captain Commando will satisfy the bloodlust of players looking to bury their fists in the faces of sleazy thugs. Final Fight's got the biggest and best graphics, but the Cap'n has the flashiest finishing moves.  You can set fire to crowds of foes, and even slice enemies in half... frankly, the only Capcom beat 'em up more brutal than this one is The Punisher, not included in the package due to copyright issues.

Shooter fans can take to the skies with 1941, Legendary Wings, Section Z, Varth, Side Arms, and Last Duel (whew!).  That's a whole lot of games to choose from, but most aren't as entertaining as the wholesome goodness of classics like 1943 and MERCS, which were left out of this collection.  Last Duel in particular suffers from an identity crisis, with gameplay that's split between sluggish racing and the airborne, rapid-fire action that players really wanted.  1941 is probably the best of the lot, but all that beautiful scenery packed into every stage restricts your movement, making it a step down from its predecessor 1943 (but still miles ahead of 1942).

Then there are the oddballs, surprising inclusions like Block Block and Quiz & Dragons that are the perfect stress relievers after spending a frustrating hour with Strider.  In Block Block, you, well, break blocks with a paddle.  Sure, it's been done before, but there's a distinct Capcom flavor here that  distinguishes it from Arkanoid.  Quiz & Dragons is a quiz game set in the middle ages.  You'll quite literally match wits with ogres and other fantasy creatures, answering trivia questions from a time when rap groups were almost as threatening as Al Roker and when corny sitcoms ruled the airwaves. 

The collection is topped off with the delightful Three Wonders and Street Fighter.  While it doesn't come close to the famous sequel, Street Fighter is still a welcome addition to Capcom Classics Collection Remix, introducing players to the game that got the ball rolling on the series.  Three Wonders, a lost gem that was previously available on the Sega Saturn in Japan, is even better here.  It's an arcade jukebox that features three different games.  Midnight Wanderers, predates Metal Slug with the same run 'n gun action, but a more whimsical medievel setting.  Chariot is a less demanding R-Type, with the elves from Midnight Wanderers taking gliders through a series of surreal stages.  Finally, Don't Pull is Capcom's second clone of the action/puzzle title Pengo, and a much more endearing game than its first.

Put 'em all together, and you've got the most exciting alliance of 80's powerhouses since The Superfriends.  Crap, another analogy!  Let me try this again.  Capcom Classics Collection Remix is a dream team of arcade hits with only one significant flaw... the shortcomings of the PSP itself.  Had it been released on a home console, CCCR would have earned an even higher rating, but as it is, it's undoubtedly the best collection you'll find on a handheld.


tech specs


MIPS R4000






UMD, Memory Stick


stereo sound


twin graphics cores




16.7 million




33 million/second

best games

Burnout Legends
Capcom Classics Remixed
Gradius Collection
Mega Man Maverick Hunter X
Mega Man Powered Up
Namco Museum
Pursuit Force
Wipeout Pure

WWF Smackdown vs. Raw 06

worst games

The Con
Dead to Rights: Reckoning
Ghost in the Shell
John Madden 2006
Marvel: Rise of the Imperfects
Rengoku: Tower of Purgatory
Smart Bomb
Space Invaders Galaxy Beat
Ys: The Ark of Nepistism