Console Saga Review

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Title: Console Saga
Developer: TACS
Game Type: PlayStation Mobile
Download: 43 MB
NA Availability: 
Digital Download 

EU Availability: Digital Download
PSTV Support: Yes

Retro games are a big element thrown into the PlayStation Mobile games, and many smaller developers in general.  The PSM library has a lot of retro and revival games, like Blue Beacon, Hungry Snake, and Simple Pong.  These games normally either mimic or revive older types of games or franchises.  Blue Beacon mimics the gameplay of the NES Super Mario games, whereas Hungry Snake is a revival of the classic Snake game.

Looking further into my backlog of PS Mobile games in the short time the store is still publishing games, I came upon a game that was suggested to me by a fellow contributor in the PS Vita community.  Having gone through the game, myself, I can begin coverage so people can get into this game before this service ends.  Being a nod to retro games everywhere, here is my official review of Console Saga!

Story

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The story of Console Saga takes place in a normal home filled with retro video games.  A game boy system and its cartridges are laying on a table, gathering dust, allowing them to rest in history.  However, that all changes when a green moon rises and fills the Earth with strange radiation that corrupts all of the game carts.

Powered by an unknown source, the Game Boy awakens to find the cartridges around him to be corrupted.  With only one mission in mind, it begins inserting the cartridges and diving into the games to fight off the radiation and restore them to their former glory.

This is mostly a set-up, but you do get more scenes after each boss fight.  This is a story that anyone who owned a classic Game Boy can get into and enjoy.  It’s comical and parodies a lot of older games.  It’s not an incredibly deep story, but it keeps you entertained with scenes as well as the random dialogue the Game Boy character gives you.

Gameplay

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Console Saga is a 2D platformers with shooting elements thrown into the mix.  In each stage you go into, you will be traversing and platforming across certain areas to find the corrupted game cartridges and retrieve them through TV Sets, which allow you to move from world to world.  Despite the shooting elements, though, this game is a 2D platformer, just like the games it is a nod to.

When you play the game, you’ll have a hub world, where you can enter each level.  Each level is represented by a TV set, and you must complete a previous level to unlock the next.  Apart from the main levels, there is also a Random Challenge level you can unlock as you play through the game, so you can do something outside of just doing the main campaign levels.

When exploring each level, you will be platforming through a stage to collect items and fend off enemies as you go from one end to the other.  The goal of each stage is to collect all of the cartridges within the stage.  Only then will the exit power on and allow you to complete it.  There are paper collectibles as well, but they’re not required to finish the stage.

Acquiring these cartridges can be tricky.  There are normal jumping mechanics (and shooting mechanics for fighting enemies) built into the game, but many pits are too far to jump across.  For this, you have a grapple that sticks to objects and allows you to swing around.  Imagine it like the fishing pole in Umihara Kawase, but much quicker and with longer range.  Attaching yourself to objects lets you swing and jump across the area, also adding some physics elements into the gameplay.

Apart from the normal stages are Boss stages.  These come every few stages and are the key to the story.  In these, you fight large bosses that are corrupting the cartridges.  All of these have specific attack patterns and areas you need to learn before you can get past.  Each boss fight is fairly long and will not be able to be passed in a single attempt.

Going off of the difficult boss fights, let’s talk about the game’s difficulty, overall.  This is a nod to the old retro platformers from the 80s and 90s.  Because of this, all of the stages have their own sets of difficulty in timing jumps and swings to other factors.  This isn’t LittleBigPlanet, where everything is catered to being easy.  Console Saga is quite difficult to get through, though it gets easier the more you play.

All in all, this game has 21 different stages for you to go through.  The stages can range from anywhere between 2 and 5 minutes, making the game only a few hours long, in total.  Given the similarity between the stages, the game likely would begin to get repetitive if taken past this amount of difficulty.  For a cheap retro game, it has a good amount of content.

Controls

Controlling Console Saga is a bit tricky to get used to.  The controls are simple, but the feel is very much different.  There is a very high amount of sensitivity in the movement of the game, making it very different from other 2D platformers.  You will be spending quite a bit of time at the beginning testing the controls and getting used to them, especially when the tight and precise jumps come around.  There is a bit of a learning curve in that sensitivity.

The controls, themselves, are easy enough to utilize.  The D-Pad is used for movement and aiming your gun.  The X button is used to jump and the Square button is used to fire.  Using the grapple is done with the Circle button.  Alternatively, you can use the L button for the grapple and the R button to fire, which I find more comfortable, especially when timing those precise jumps.  All in all, though, it’s not a hard control scheme to learn and use.

Presentation

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The visual presentation is set in a 2D plane but the sprites have 3D aspects to them, especially the main character.  It’s not that 3D models were used, but the way you move has some 3D aspects.  The visuals look good, overall.  There are some deliberate pixelated sections in scenes.  But, nothing out of the ordinary that makes the game look degraded.

The game plays well, too.  The load times are very short and there’s never any lag, even during boss fights.  The developer who made this game did a nice job at optimizing it, both for the PS Vita and the PlayStation TV.

Summary

Console Saga is a successful throw-back to the old retro platformers from the age of the Game Boy.  On the downside, the controls are very sensitive and take some time to get accustomed to.  Outside of this is one of the best games in the PlayStation Mobile library and is recommended for any fan of 2D platformers.

9/10