Is your PSP feeling game-starved? No exclusives to tickle your fancy? Well, come now - that's not entirely true. But if you really want to sample games that have been developed specifically for PSP, you might have to take a risk on a game you'd otherwise pass up. Yes, like Mytran Wars.
Don't worry, we haven't gone crazy – we agree it doesn't look very appealing on the outside. It's a turn-based strategy. It's got mechs in it. It's called 'Mytran Wars', for Jeebus' sake. It's simply not as immediately appealing as the cutesy, happy world of Advance Wars. But wait!
The core gameplay is pretty much identical to Advance Wars. The action plays out under an elevated camera (which you can rotate with the analog nub), with a grid-based playing field. Different square types (woodland, open, mountain etc) offer different defensive characteristics, just like the GBA strategy classic. Then there's the Fog of War, the way you select the order of unit attacks each turn and the way you have commanders. And while the game is not cartoony during gameplay, we do like the intro/outro cutscenes, with good artwork and some welcome humour.
Above: One of the comic cutscenes that sets up a rescue mission
But unlike Advance Wars, the commanders are directly involved in the battles. Get them killed and it's Game Over – kinda like the old 'red shirt' phenomenon of Star Trek. Some people are simply expendable, others feature later in the story so they mustn't die.
You won't find any mollycoddling here. Where Advance Wars on GBA and DS eases you into the action by introducing new elements over time, a lot of prior knowledge is assumed in Mytran Wars. This is a deliberate move from the developer, Stormregion, who wanted to create a game for the hardcore audience. But that's not to say your mech is as ready as it'll ever be right out of the (skyscraper-high) box...