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Gripshift

KATHLEEN: If Dr. Frankenstein made a game, he’d probably patch together something like this self-proclaimed puzzle/platform/driving/actioner.

Let’s break it down. First, GripShift fails as a platformer: Its twisty, hazard-filled, loop-the-looped tracks (perched high over a few stale backgrounds) actually end up feeling tedious, as you repeatedly plummet over edges. It also sucks as a puzzler: Only masochists will enjoy scouring the tracks for hidden collectibles. GripShift isn’t much of a racer, either: You’re given several choices for hubcaps and hood decals, but no ability to tweak your car’s handling or performance. This is mash-the-brakes-and-crawl-around-the-corner driving, not easy-powerslide-woo-this-is-so-fun driving. And as far as GripShift being an action game, well, I’m not sure where that part comes in. Do hack car-combat clichés like firing missiles and dropping TNT count as action?

GripShift’s only novelty is its track editor, which is simple to learn and elaborate enough to allow for some fun designs to race on and trade. But with everything else malformed and pieced together, it’s not enough to give this monster life—at least for me. These other yahoos loved it, though.

G. FORD: Bah, I say. Though by no means a killer app, GripShift is precisely the type of game the PSP needs right now. Its quirky puzzle/driving/platform gameplay quickly won me over, mostly thanks to the controls. What I love is that in GripShift’s world of floating tracks, you’ll find a physics system that lets you toss around your vehicle like some sort of metallic Hacky Sack, bouncing from track to islands and through checkpoints in a haphazard yet controllable fashion. New obstacles, including magnets and teleporters, appear regularly, and though you’ll be replaying levels in an attempt at achieving different goals, it doesn’t become frustrating until some of the later stages. Solid.

OFFICIAL PS MAG—JOE: I’m not sure how much of this is due to the fact that this is actually an original PSP game, but I had a reasonably good time with GripShift. Its claim to “puzzle platform driving action” sounds ludicrous, but that’s what you get: a very simple puzzle-based platformer starring a car rather than a plucky young mascot. It’s kind of like Super Monkey Ball, complete with a sense of not being fully in control of your character. The 100-plus levels are so simple that you’ll be hooked into beating just one more. A powerful track editor and cute minigames add further value. This ain’t no Lumines, but it’s a mildly diverting puzzler all the same.

Good: Track editor is easy to learn yet powerful

Bad: Not everyone likes replaying the same track over and over

Ice, Lava, and Desert Levels? You know it

Publisher: Platform Games/

Sony Online

Developer: Sidhe Interactive

Players: 1 (2-4 via local Wi-Fi)

ESRB: Everyone

www.gripshiftgame.com

THE VERDICTS (OUT OF 10)

Kathleen 3.0

G. Ford 7.0

Joe 6.5

Copyright © 2005 Ziff Davis Media Inc. All Rights Reserved. Originally appearing in Electronic Gaming Monthly.





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