'Every Extra Extend' PSP Review

January 9, 2009 § Leave a comment

Every Extra Extend, hmmm. This is a game I can see myself playing while on a train waiting for the next stop. It is an extremely simple high-concept game that turns most ’shumps’ on their heads, and this is partially why I love the game: for its originality in its approach. The other reason why I think it’s great, and this is something that borrows from other classic puzzle games, is that it forces the player to adopt a risk/reward strategy in their approach to the game. This is present in Tetris, it’s there in Lumines and it is here now in EEE, and I think this is the strongest aspect of its appeal. The game forces the player into a situation where he must take risks in order to rack up a high score large enough to make it through the level. But to get a high score is almost beside the point. If you’re like me, you’ll take the high risk/high reward strategy any day of the week for the mere thrill of ‘getting away with it’. It’s like scoring a long-range goal in football or putting your chips down on a big hand in Texas Hold’Em. Here, instead of the glory of scoring a great goal or raking in the cash from your big win at the table, you instead are served an exquisite feast of pretty colours and rhythmic sounds, as the chain reaction of explosions you have just set off fulfils itself towards its inevitable end.

I am tickled by the way the game turns the convention of its genre up on its end, but there is something poetic I find in the concept of the game. At the risk of sounding pretentious, I am going to invoke a sexual analogy here. Think about it, you start with the build up where you are forced to be patient; you don’t want to blow up too soon otherwise you’ll waste a life. You wait, patiently, until the perfect moment comes when it all comes together, and you trigger the self-destruct, destroying yourself, but setting off a chain of explosions throughout the screen. It’s that idea of waiting, of being teased, until the moment comes resulting in a plethora of sensations — in this case: merely visual and auditory. And then you’re dead, your avatar respawns and you do it all over again until you eventually reach the game over screen. And that’s it; that’s the game. The reason I was reminded of this analogy was because of that phrase the French have of la petite mort or ‘the little death’, or as wikipedia coldly puts it: “the refractory period following sexual orgasm”. When I first heard of the game and played it, something struck me that I couldn’t put my finger on, and I still feel this way now to some degree. Regardless of any ideas of Freudian psychoanalysis, though, something of the idea has a weird melancholic serenity about it which I still find charming and utterly spellbinding.

I only have two complaints against the game: the lack of levels and the poor presentation. It feels like a barebones DVD release of a film; the fonts are ugly, the menu is functional but not particularly attractive, and the game only has (I think) nine levels — two of them only being reachable by besting the game at hardest difficult level. In short, it looks a little low in production values, a little rough around the edges. Irrespective of these complaints I have against the game, though, it’s actually a lot of fun to play. To illustrate how short the game is, I received the game in the post today and I have finished it on the same day. Will I play it again, though? Probably many times over because the core gameplay is just really fun.

Now, if only Tetsuya Mizuguchi would port Rez over to the PSP, God if only. That would be awesome.

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