|System: PSP||Review Rating Legend|
|Dev: Nowproduction Inc.||1.0 - 1.9 = Avoid||4.0 - 4.4 = Great|
|Pub: D3 Publisher||2.0 - 2.4 = Poor||4.5 - 4.9 = Must Buy|
|Release: June 12, 2007||2.5 - 2.9 = Average||5.0 = The Best|
|Players: 1||3.0 - 3.4 = Fair|
|ESRB Rating: Everyone||3.5 - 3.9 = Good|
by Jonathan Marx
June 18, 2007 - June 12th marked the triumphant return of the best-selling brain game on the PSP. PQ2: Practical Intelligence Quotient will leave a lasting mark on your cerebrum. Simple controls, graphics, and mechanics combine to produce a high-quality puzzling experience that gamers of all ages are sure to enjoy.
If you didn't get around to playing the first game, then you are in for a treat. This is not a Tetris or Bejeweled clone. This game is a unique, labyrinthine puzzler. The game puts you through a series of mazes, filled with obstacles, each with its own properties. The goal of the participant is to make it through the maze as quickly as possible, with as few moves as possible. The obstacles will thwart your advance, and you will have to use your cunning in order to progress in an efficient manner. When you do in fact reach the end of each level, the game will tally your score and produce a result known as your PQ. Your PQ score will be based on a percentage and you will be given a letter grade that corresponds to that percentage. In the beginning, your PQ will be very low. In fact, you'll be hard-pressed to get a B. As you become familiar with the obstacles and their characteristics you will become much more agile, and your scores will increase.
Gameplay is both satisfying and addictive. The simplicity of the mechanic does not belie the complexity and charm of play. Your character proceeds through the mazes by pushing, pulling, and lifting boxes. As previously mentioned, these boxes are obstacles with unique characteristics. Some boxes have laser beams, some will elevate you, some are made of glass that break easily and allow beams to pass through them, and still others are police depots that actually attract the 5.0 toward their position. Watch out for the police because you'll have to start from scratch if they catch you. The player must arrange the boxes in such a way so that you can climb, descend, cross, or simply make a clear path to the goal. It sounds easy enough, but can be quite difficult. Additionally, completing the puzzle is only half the battle. In order to get a decent score you need to complete the puzzle quickly and with purpose. Taking your time and fiddling around with the obstacles will ruin your final score, so be quick and efficient with your efforts.
The graphics of the game are very simple and not particularly detailed, however they serve their purpose. The game doesn't rely on great graphics to be engaging. The visuals are clear and facilitate the gameplay. The camera works well, and allows you to adjust the angle in 360 degrees to help you solve the puzzles. The game doesn't make use of the PSPs renowned screen, but that's probably why it's one of the better games for the system. It's function over form in this title.
There is a ton of content to explore: there are over 250 puzzles this time around, including 10 secret puzzles that can be unlocked. Additionally, Nowproduction, Inc. has included 10 new obstacles just to make things that much more complicated. Another feature that's really pretty neat is the puzzle creator function. Using the infrastructure mode for the PSP, you can create and upload your own puzzles to be shared with PSP owners around the world. Concomitantly, the developers will post new levels to be downloaded so that free game content will be constantly updated and available. You also can share the experience with friends. They have a 10 level demo your buddies can pick up if you enter Ad-Hoc mode. This is really just a teaser though, and is more of a marketing tool, rather than an additional feature to gameplay.
Sounds in this game are standard. They're pretty forgettable actually. This game would have been a perfect candidate for the importing of your own MP3 files. Gameplay is addictive so you will be playing for long game sessions. Listening to your own tunes along the way would have been awesome. Alas, it's not an option and you'll have to deal with rather dull menu themes and completion effects.
Controls couldn't be much better. Sometimes I was annoyed when my character would step up on top of a box rather than grab it. This of course costs you valuable moves and reduces your score. I t feels unjust and drives you bonkers. I'm not sure that there's much they can do about that though. The controls are faster than the original game, and make for a more satisfying experience, but they're not perfectly precise.
This is a well made game that's definitely worth picking up. The revamped controls and additional content make it good buy even for those who already own the original game. This isn't an amazing game, but it is an engaging one. Improving your PQ scores is gratifying, and uploading them onto the PQ2 servers and comparing them to other gamers will be a humble experience. This game should find some commercial success. I would recommend it to anyone that was looking for a unique take on brain games.
CCC Freelance Writer