G5 Entertainment PlayStation Minis Guide

I’ve been on a serious PlayStation Minis spree lately. After only playing a couple in the months since the budget, iPhone-equivalent app platform went live last year with the PSPgo, I’ve played through 11 Minis within the past couple weeks alone (more guides and reviews to come), and the majority of them have entertained me immensely.

G5 Entertainment in particular has produced one great Minis title after another, becoming perhaps the most consistent purveyor of Minis right now, both in terms of quantity and quality. Seriously, any time a new PlayStation Mini comes along from G5 from here on out, you better believe I’ll be eager to check it out.

Currently, G5 has five Minis available on the PlayStation Store, and I’d like to take a moment here to tell you all about them. Also keep in mind that Minis are playable on PSP and PS3 – buy the game once and it works on both platforms!

The Mystery of the Crystal Portal:

Mystery of the Crystal Portal is G5’s latest Minis offering, and to my surprise it’s actually the first hidden object game on the platform. This game simultaneously fulfills a genre niche and delivers a wonderful item-seeking challenge, whisking you away on a globe-trotting journey to six countries in search of a young journalist’s missing father.

Crystal Portal brings together many familiar elements from other hidden object games, but also ups the ante with an intriguing, story-based quest mode, sharp visuals and a unique item collection format. Rather than giving you a straightforward list of items to find, the game instead has you scouring each scene for hidden key objects which then give you visual clues of the objects that need to be collected next. Once you find one of the pictured objects, you select it and drop it into the related key object, and as you fulfill the content requirements for these key objects, the scenes change and new key objects become uncovered.

Selecting objects is very intuitive with the PSP’s analog nub, but due to the smallish screen size compared to that of a PC or iPad, there are times when objects are unfairly tricky to spot. In fact, a few items were so small and undefined that even when I zoomed in or used a hint to automatically pick them out for me, I still couldn’t see them!

Fortunately I only had this happen with maybe three items in the entire game, so it’s really not a serious concern. In this instance, playing the game on a PS3 also proves beneficial. While the menus and cursors are blurry and aliased when blown up on an HD TV, the backgrounds remain crisp, objects are more clearly defined, and the larger screen real estate frees you from having to zoom the view in and out quite as often. The only trade off is that the cursor speed is a bit sluggish compared to playing on the PSP.

The Mystery of the Crystal Portal is available now for $4.99, and it is worth every penny.

Mahjongg Artifacts / Mahjongg Artifacts: Chapter 2:

Up until both of these games, I’d never played Mahjongg before in my life. But now thanks to G5 I am absolutely hooked. For newcomers (like me), Mahjongg is basically an Asian variation of Solitaire, only with domino-like tiles in place of a deck of playing cards.

At the start of every game, you are presented with a stacked formation of titles, each with different symbols on them, and to complete the puzzle you have to match pairs of like-symbol titles until you move through the entire formation and uncover and match the two golden tiles at the bottom. The catch is that only tiles that are uncovered (meaning there are no adjacent tiles above or surrounding them) can be matched, so like Solitaire you have to think your way through, not just pair up the first two matching tiles you see. If you run out of available moves, you have to reshuffle the board; and if you run out of reshuffles, you lose.

The one minor knock against these games has to do with depth perception. On the PSP’s smaller screen, it is sometimes difficult to gauge where a tile lies in relation to the rest of the formation in terms of depth, and when you are cycling through the titles this can also make selecting the one you want trickier than it should be. Like with Mystery of the Crystal Portal, though, playing on a PS3 lessens this issue (but doesn’t eliminate it entirely), as do helpful manual- and auto-zoom functions.

For the Minis releases of Mahjongg Artifacts, the second game actually came out well before the first, which is kind of strange. But in the end this matters very little, because the two games are practically identical in makeup. Both feature 25-level Quest modes with still comic book panels linking the campaign puzzles together with an actual storyline, Endless and Classic modes for when you just want to play straight Mahjongg, and similar audiovisual themes. The only difference of note is the addition of power-ups in Chapter 2 which bring a little extra flair to the Mahjongg experience – things like magnets that suck tiles from one place to another, joker tiles that instantly clear all tiles of a specific symbol type from the game board, and swapper tiles that allow you to force two tiles to trade positions.

If you can only buy one, I say go with Chapter 2. But at only $5 a pop you might as well grab both if you can. Once you finish one, you probably won’t be able to resist the other – trust me on that!

Stand O’ Food:

With Stand O’ Food, G5 serves up a tasty order of time- and job-management gaming akin to games like Root Beer Tapper and Diner Dash — a game that puts you behind the counter as a fast food server and challenges you to serve orders quickly and correctly as customers shuffle in.

In Meal Quest mode, you bounce around town from one restaurant to another working the counter to serve people their meals. As customers line up, a thought bubble pops up over their heads indicating the type of sandwich they’re hankering for, and it’s your job to make each sandwich with the appropriate ingredients as they roll down a series of conveyor belts. The trick is to be fast with your fingers, because if you make customers wait too long, they’ll leave and you won’t make enough money to complete each stage.

Customers become less and less patient as the game progresses, but by performing well and earning piles of cash, you can purchase upgrades to make things easier, such as a coffee maker to get your character to work the line faster, extra plates you can use to store unneeded ingredients, and appliances to keep customers waiting in line, like a jukebox and/or a fan.

Stand O’ Food is good, casual fun, but of all the G5 Minis it was the one I grew bored with the quickest. However, if you have a particular fondness for Diner Dash and games of that ilk, $3 is a small price to pay for a tasty fast food gaming meal like this.

Supermarket Mania:

Supermarket Mania is another game in the Diner Dash mold of job management gaming, and this one is even better than Stand O’ Food.

Instead of working the counter at a fast food shop, you play as a grocery store clerk named Nikki, and it’s your job to keep shelves stocked with food as busy shoppers bustle in to fill up their carts, with thought bubbles cluing you in on which food items to stock up on.

Compared to Stand O’ Food, there is a lot more going on in Supermarket Mania, and subsequently the game has greater diversity and is less predictable. Many times you’ll have five or six shoppers strolling around the store at once, so you really have to pay close attention to their individual needs and strategize when to stock certain shelves and when to hit the stock room to load back up. You also have to deal with recycling trash and keeping punk kids from making a mess, and upgrading the store is also important to keep business booming.

Overall, Supermarket Mania is a bright, charming and challenging little game, and a nice value at $5.

About the Author

Matt Litten is the full-time editor and owner of VGBlogger.com. He is responsible for maintaining the day to day operation of the site, editing all staff content before it is published, and contributing regular news, reviews, previews and other articles. Matt landed his first gig in the video game review business writing for the now-defunct website BonusStage.com. After the sad and untimely close of BonusStage, the former staff went on to found VGBlogger.com. After a short stint as US Site Manager for AceGamez, Matt assumed full ownership over VGBlogger, and to this day he is dedicated to making it one of the top video game blogs in all the blogosphere. Matt is a fair-minded reviewer and lover of games of all platforms and types, big or small, hyped or niche, big-budget or indie. But that doesn't mean he will let poor games slide without a good thrashing when necessary!