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Black Rock Shooter [PSP] Review

Posted on May 6, 2013 AT 12:32pm

Black Rock Shooter has an interesting history. Basically, it started as a single piece of artwork by Ryohei “Huke” Fuke and from there it spawned music, an anime, an OVA, a manga and video games. Black Rock Shooter for the PSP is the newest edition to the series to hit North American shores.

It’s 2051 and for the past nineteen years, Earth has been under attack by an alien race. The human race is nearly extinct, with only twelve survivors left…all male. The hope of humanity rests on one “thing”, Black Rock Shooter. However, BRS is not a thing after all but a girl. She is suffering from amnesia and really does not have much going on in the personality department but we can forgive her, she does have a medical condition after all. BRS was originally developed as a weapon but the question of whether or not she is actually human is what the game sets out to explore.

The game was surprisingly engaging and easy to pick up and play. Controls are not overly complex and and battles are not long and drawn out. Rather than being the typical attack and block type combat, players need to learn how to balance attack, dodge and block to effectively take out foes. Spending too much time spamming the attack and dodge buttons will cause you to “overheat” and open you up to attacks…and defeat. I found blocking and then attacking between enemy attacks work out the best for 75% of the battles. Be adaptable, if the attack plan you used the first time did not work, try a different combination.

As you progress, you will unlock other abilities that do not cause overheating but they will have “cooldown” timers. This means you will not be able to utilize them as frequently as you might like or need to. Be aware of the limitations set for your abilities or else it could prove to be fatal. There was a sense of frustration over the fact I felt I was being punished for being adept at dodging attacks but it does force a player to learn to use all the tools they are offered.

Basic battles against the lesser enemies does get to be a tad bit repetitive and the missions set before you are the same three missions over and over. That being said, the big boss battles are challenging and will keep you on your toes. You will not find defeating them as easy as mowing through the smaller enemies was. These battles will get your pulse racing and your adrenalin up as you barely manage to dodge an attack and attempt to unleash devastating attacks against the boss. Not once did I feel like throwing my PSP in frustration and that is a good thing. It was a “fun” challenge. Just hard enough but not so hard I didn’t feel like playing anymore.

Black Rock Shooter is not a big game, probably about 10-12 hours of gameplay broken into six stages of with about six missions. Each stage also has bonus side missions, most involving challenges to complete; for example, killing a certain number of enemies within a certain time limit. Clearing these challenges can unlock better skills and while many can be completed during regular gameplay, some will require a bit of backtracking to get them completed. You do have the option of skipping them if you choose, but those added powers are mighty helpful.

Graphically, it felt wanting at times. I understand this is a game that has been out in Japan for a while and is just now making it to the U.S. but visually, it still felt unpolished. I imagine that trying to imitate a specific work of art or art style on the PSP plays into the issue. Most of my issues with the visuals rest on the cut scenes, the gameplay visuals were clean and what I expected to see on a PSP.

I will be honest, the first hour or so will be very underwhelming to most players but once you get past it, the story picks up. Fans of the Black Rock Shooter series will be entrance by the game and I’d suggest to anyone not familiar with the anime or manga, might want to watch a few videos to get a better idea of the story because it can be a bit confusing to follow within the game. However, the plot twists will keep you playing just so you can find out what is next. I found the story to be tragic and heartfelt all at once.

All and all, the game does what all handheld games should do, entertain. Black Rock Shooter is not a genre changing game but it is fun to play. The story had more depth than you’d expect from a PSP title and even though it did need more polish as a whole, it’s worth playing.

Grade: C+


Carly "PoisonPinkFluff" Frith is a little sugar, a little salt, and a whole lot of personality. Gamer, general geek and beer aficionado. Just call her a tomboy in high heels. She is on Twitter: @DN_PinkFluff.

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