From Starlight to Twilight

As I have mentioned in posts previous, in the UK at least, the PS2 is in it's twilight months. Despite many homes having one under the table, despite the PS2 only really finding it's feet in terms of both graphics and gameplay with late releases like Final Fantasy XII, despite developers and publishers promising to support it after "next gen" it's nearly game over for the PS2. At least on the high street anyway. Go into any game shop and check out the PS2 section. The only new titles are cheap copycat shams targetted at the "casual gamers" or the hypothetical confused grannies. Yes I mean you, Alvin and the Chipmunks game and Petz 2 and World Series Poker 2008 and Hot Wheels: Beat That and PDC Championship darts 2008.
Those looking to preowned section will also be dissapointed with the glut of average and obscure games. On a recent trip to the stores I couldn't locate copies of Resident Evil Outbreak 1 or 2 (I know they're awful) or the latest two tomb raiders. Fortunately, online outlets exist but I really enjoy the sensation of going into a shop and buying a game plus I'm very finnickety with the games I buy in terms of which box it has, which disk etc. With online ordering you never know if you're going to get an original copy of the game or an awful Player's Choice, Platinum or Eidos Rebound box which ruins the "lined-up-on-the-shelf-aesthetic". Also, I think game shops should take a leaf from music and bookshops. Imagine if HMV only stocked the latest CDs and Movies or Waterstones only sold the most recently published books. It would suck. For the PS2 this spells death. There's virtually no visibility of titles in the stores and I suspect it's because game stores want to sell people £50 games and £70 peripherals and not £10 older games. So for the PS2 the long night comes early. However, for a limited time only you'll be able to pick up many titles, recent ones, good titles, for relatively cheaply just before they slip off the precipice into the world of £40 for new copies of old games land. So strike now reader whilst the iron is hot! Stop whinging about no games for the Wii or PS3 and games that rely on online connection for the XBox 360, go and pick up all of the GTAs on the PS2. That's months of AAA gameplay that will make you feel guilty for jumping in bed with the shiny shiny next gen so quickly. Today I would like to highlight another such title that you might be able to pick up for a fiver brand new and which offers something very few next gen titles can. That game is Mashed...

Released over three years ago now, Mashed arrived with very little preview cover or hype. EDGE gave it an 8 and PSM gave it a 9 but it wsn't heavilty marketed. You could have been forgiven for not noticing it. The only reason TGAM picked it up was through playing it as part of the Demo Challenge (the rest of the Demo challenge was abandoned as we loaded up the timed* demo over and over and over for five mad minutes of carnage).
After buying the game proper we blasted through the single player (which, although entertaining was merely in order to unlock all the tracks for multiplayer), plugged in a multitap and played for hours. The game is very simple, like micro machines (before things went askew after micro maniacs) without the scaled down approach. Put simply it was great fun to play and still is. Brilliant level design (Ventura B'vard is our favourite), intuitive controls, the inspired air strike and taunting are a recipe for success and of late it has been one of the few titles that has warranted the dust to be blown from the PS2 to fire the girl up again.
So if you can, pick this title up, grab three friends and enjoy one of the best multiplayer games on one screen and let voice chat, connection problems, friends codes, griefing, rebooting, controller charging become a distant memory for an evening at least.

*Hopefully, the age of the timed demo is over but at one point it was "the thing" to give players a brief 5 minute go with a game before ending a demo and queing the marketing info. Doesn't sound too bad right? Just replay it? But this was also at a time when 2 minute loading screens would top and tail the demo session. Don't want your demographic associating your game with being unhappy? Don't force them to sit through loading screens you bastards.


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