The Next Space and Chopper I

By Mehran Malek - September 14th, 2012

Chopper I.

Am I really this bad at video games?

What will my son say when he reviews Uncharted 3 as a Naughty Dog Mini in 20 years?

Those are just some of the thoughts that were running through my head as I played Chopper I and The Next Space, the latest PlayStation Minis from SNK Playmore. As some of you may know, SNK was responsible for introducing the Neo Geo system in the early 1990s; and before that, the modular video game cabinets that housed a small buffet of games all at once. In their heyday, these two things were considered the pinnacle of gaming excellence. Those ups, some downs, an acquisition, a lawsuit and a brief history lesson later*, and we find ourselves here today with the introduction of another set of “PlayStation Minis” available for consumption on your choice of PSP, PS Vita or PS3.

Both games are similar in concept – vertical-scrolling shmups; but each in a different setting. Chopper I takes place in a post-WW2 setting where you battle tanks, boats, soldiers and are provided some flexibility in widening the area of combat by moving to the edges of the screen. The Next Space is set way into the future with enemies of the alien spaceship variety. Think of it as Space Invaders with a very mild plot. The Next Space also offers weapon power-ups that are accessible using the alternate fire button. Both games provide local co-op multi-player.

The Next Space.

Like most other SNK Playstation Minis, you are provided with unlimited credits in each game. However, in my past experience with these unlimited credit situations, I have found it difficult to achieve a sense of accomplishment and satisfaction if the difficulty of the game is too high or if you fail to take the challenge seriously. You just end up button mashing and hoping to make some progress, without putting in any real effort. This is where these two games differed for me – Chopper I was just too tough**. While graphically, Chopper I was the better of the two games and on the surface appeared more engaging, it was The Next Space that consumed the majority of my time. In other words, I enjoyed it much more than I enjoyed Chopper I***.

That being said, both games were great in their time and will still provide hours of enjoyment to the right audience. If you’re curious, I wouldn’t recommend against picking them up, and for about the price of a one-way fare on the TTC****, you get to enjoy a trip down memory lane that doesn’t stink – unless you do.

* – This may make more sense if you read up on SNK Playmore using Wikipedia.
** – Admittedly, this is an issue with the reviewer; not the game.
*** – Didn’t stink at it as much as I stunk at Chopper I.
**** – Toronto Transit Commission: Toronto’s public transit system.

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