The PlayStation Network is really starting to come into its own – wait until you see our review for Flower – but let’s not forget that certain titles are there to enhance your PSP, not your TV. One such upcoming game is Vogster Entertainment’s Unbound Saga, which is based upon the Dark Horse comic book series and is scheduled to arrive some time this June. It’ll be available on the PlayStation Store for the PSP, and if you’re at all familiar with old-school experiences like Comix Zone, you should be intrigued by this relatively original concept. Basically, Rick Ajax (awesome name for a main character) is stuck in a comic book world, and he continually battles a villain who keeps drawing in new obstacles and enemies. You know, if you really think about it in spiritual abstract terms, it’s like saying the protagonist has to battle God…totally cool. Anyway, as you can see by some of the early screenshots, this is going to be an artistically impressive, slam-bang action title that ought to be a pleasant diversion from the flashier and far more expensive console titles sitting on store shelves.
Unbound Saga tells the story of Rick Ajax and Lori Machete (HA-ha), and if you couldn’t guess, Rick is a carbon copy of most of the video game heroes we had in the ‘80s. You know, the Duke Nukem-esque, cocky muscleman who is more than capable of dealing with all sorts of fantastical foes, like mutants and various monsters. His biggest challenge is that he’s at the mercy of “The Maker,” who can essentially draw anything he wishes to stop Rick, and when your only limit is your imagination…well, there really isn’t any limit at all. But what if you had to explain to everyone that a magical hand was drawing all these monsters that kept attacking you? Everyone would roll their eyes and call the men in the white coats, right? Even your partner, Lori, thinks Rick has gone off the deep end, but only until she experiences the onslaught of nastiness for herself. And when that happens, she decides to lose her conservative image, tear off most of her clothes, and commence some mutant butt-kicking with Rick’s help. The young men out there won’t complain, we’re sure.
For those of you who miss the good ol’ days of Double Dragon, this is about as close as you’re going to get to that side-scrolling beat-‘em-up action in 2009. Basically, you just wander around smacking the hell out of continuous streams of enemies; you can punch, kick, and grab your attackers, just as you could in those old DD games. Rick uses a variety of wrestling moves when he snags a foe and Lori is stealthier, as her abilities focus more on deception, with the ability to toss out stuff like poison gas. Of course, either character can pick up weapons as they progress – remember the steel pipe? It’s back! – and ruthlessly bash on any monsters The Maker can throw at ‘em. The one significant difference between Unbound Saga and those old-school titles is that you will be able to train both Rick and Lori. Each fighter will have individual “move trees,” and if you want to make them uber-effective, you need to learn your skills as you go along; according to IGN, Vogster Entertainment said it would take four play-throughs to max out the move trees for both Rick and Lori.
Oh, and here’s another little nugget of info: you’ll be able to switch between the two characters at any time, so if you want to switch things up and change over to Lori – perhaps just to ogle – feel free. Perhaps there will even be some tandem moves…? Either way, you’ll be traversing a classic comic book landscape and as we said earlier, if you’re familiar with the old Comix Zone, you’re already ahead of the game. You move about in much the same way: you go through the standard graphic squares you find in a comic book and when you reach the edge of the square, an arrow pops up to show you the correct path and you hop on over into the next square. Fans of comics and graphics novels will gravitate to this interactive style, and at the very least, everyone else can partake of a refreshing gameplay format. The foundation, of course, is that of a solid brawler with a few new-age advancements in terms of character building, but the overall package holds a definite retro tinge. There’s such a wide variety of games these days, on both the virtual Store and at retail locations, it’s easy to remain diverse in your favorite hobby. You have no excuse to limit yourself this generation.
Unbound Saga is set for June 2009 and we’re hoping for a solidified release date some time soon. The PSP can always use more entertaining titles, and this one should be a great start to the summer. For more info and extra media, head on over to the game’s official website.
2/9/2009 Ben Dutka