Sanuk Games PlayStation Minis Guide

Another PlayStation Minis provider I recently connected with is Sanuk Games. Like G5 Entertainment, Sanuk’s Minis lineup, currently consisting of four games with a fifth (a hidden object game called Actual Crimes: Jack The Ripper) on the way, is made up of pick-up-and-play casual apps, largely of the activity book variety.

Let’s take a look at what Minis Sanuk Games has to offer.

Spot the Differences!:

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Anyone grow up playing spot the difference puzzles on the back of cereal boxes and in activity books like Highlights? I did, and I loved them – and the generically titled Spot the Differences! PlayStation Mini solidly recreates the timeless pen-and-paper game.

Games do not get any more straightforward than Spot the Differences!. A pair of duplicate images is displayed side by side; only the two like images contain five subtle differences that you have to find. You scroll back and forth across the screen and pick out the five differences before the timer runs out, and then you move on to a new set of pictures…and then another, and then another, and then another.

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There is no option to zoom in for a closer look, but thankfully the images are clear and distinguished enough that even the subtlest of alterations are identifiable with a keen eye. At $2.99, the game comes with four unlockable difficulty levels, arcade and time attack modes, and the ability to play a custom game from your choice of the 240 different scenes, which include themes like sports, nature, pets and food.

Spot the Differences! isn’t the type of game you’ll sit there and play for hours at a time, but it is the perfect time-waster for road trips, plane flights or the bus ride home. It’s also the sixth best selling title in Minis history thus far, so it must be doing something right.

Hysteria Project:

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Hysteria Project is by far the weakest of Sanuk’s Minis offerings. What I thought was going to be a light survival horror game actually turned out to be a brief “interactive” slasher flick, where you are the helpless victim fleeing the hooded, axe-wielding psycho.

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The “game” places you in the first-person perspective of a man who must escape death at the hands of a murderous horror villain, with the events playing out in short FMV clips interspersed with occasional QTEs (Quick Time Events) and intermission periods during which you are presented with multiple choices of how to proceed and must make a selection within a time limit.

This would have been cool if the events played out like a “choose your own adventure” plot. However, there are right and wrong choices, and if you choose the wrong one you die and restart from the beginning of the scene. Needless to say, a lot of trial and error is required to survive until the end…which takes no more than an hour to do even with multiple retries, and is hardly worth even that much of your time given the unsatisfying cliffhanger ending which sets the stage for a second episode.

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I really appreciate the concept behind Hysteria Project and think it may be good for a cheap thrill at only $2. But overall it’s short, boring, and really just not that scary, so I say don’t bother.

Telegraph Crosswords:

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Of the Minis I have, none keep me coming back more than Telegraph Crosswords – it truly has become an essential, can’t-live-without-it Mini in my PSP library. At a mere $3, it provides 500 crossword puzzles in three types: Quick, Cryptic and General Knowledge. Quick represents standard crossword puzzles, while Cryptic and General Knowledge ramp up the challenge with word clues so ambiguous that only true crossword whizzes need apply.

Beyond the three clue types, Telegraph Crosswords is a no-frills video game adaptation of the word-based, pen-and-paper puzzle game. The game is presented with a touch of color rather than standard black and white, but other than that the visuals are pretty plain and the music is elevator quality all the way.

The controls are overly convoluted at first – up and down on the D-pad and the analog nub cycle through the puzzle, left and right on the D-pad switch between horizontal and vertical lines, and pressing the X button pulls up a soft keyboard used for text entry – but once you learn the button layout the game plays just fine.

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The beef I do have, though, is with the translation. For some reason the US release wasn’t translated into American English, so for certain clues the spelling is based on British English (color vs. colour, for example). Spelling variations like this, as slight and infrequent as they may be, can really throw off your thought process.

I do, however, appreciate the small touches Sanuk squeezed into the game, such as optional error spotting, letter hints, a completion time ranking system, and the ability to save progress for each individual puzzle.

These features plus the sheer volume of puzzles make Telegraph Crosswords an absolute must for crossword aficionados. I mean, for less than it costs to buy a crossword puzzle book you can enjoy a puzzle a day for well over a year!

Telegraph Sudoku & Kakuro:

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Built on the same template as Telegraph Crosswords, Telegraph Sudoku & Kakuro brings the two number-based puzzle games to the PSP with little flair but loads of content and value — $3 for 500 puzzles, just like Crosswords.

Included are the standard versions of Sudoku and Kakuro, in addition to three Sudoku variants: Sudoku X, Mini Sudoku and Jigsaw Sudoku. If you haven’t played either of these puzzle game types before, here’s a brief overview.

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In Sudoku, the objective is to complete a 9×9 grid by inserting digits so that each column, row, and 3×3 region of the grid as a whole contain the numbers 1-9 without any of the columns, rows or regions containing multiple instances of the same number. The aforementioned variants simply change the size and shape of the grids.

As for Kakuro, it too has you filling out a grid with the numbers 1-9, except that the format is even closer to that of a crossword puzzle. Numbered clues are placed next to each column and row, and you have to insert numbers that add up to that total without using any duplicates. It’s actually even tougher than Sudoku if you ask me – and I think Sudoku is already pretty damn challenging!

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Telegraph Sudoku & Kakuro shares many of the same features of its crossword counterpart, and on top of that its controls are smoother and easier to grasp. In place of the soft keyboard, number entry is tied to a simple radial menu. Select the box you wish to place a number in, hold down the X button and then tilt the analog nub around the dial (or cycle through with the D-pad arrows) to the desired number – that’s all there is to it.

In all honesty, I’m not much into Sudoku. But if you are, this Mini is loaded with value and will surely satisfy your appetite for number crunching.

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!