As part of a new series which I’m likely to abandon the moment I become bored with it, I intend to look at the exclusive items on each region of PSN. Meaning you’d need to specifically start an account in that region to enjoy them. Starting an account is easy, and I have four (UK, USA, Japan and Hong Kong). First up the UK, mainly because there’s not much there, so I won’t have to type much!
The UK PSN sucks. It’s the worst out of all countries, beaten only by places like Germany, Saudi Arabia and South Africa, and then only because these places receive the censored, butchered, edited-down carcasses of what the UK receives. Actually, I’m not even sure South Africa has an official PSN.
I’ve read Americans on forums complain about their PSN, but trust me guys, you at least get a few decent Konami games on your PS1 classics list (like Suikoden and Symphony of the Night), and you always get demos waaaaay before the UK does. I also seem to recall there’s a couple full games you have, which we don’t. PSN has the potential to be an amazing service which syphons money out of my bank account at an incredible rate simply by virtue of its excellent - except that unlike Japan and America’s PSN, the service we have in Europe is an embarrassment.
Furthermore, the UK PSN is stoic in its defiance NOT to show screens of the PS1 games available to buy (unlike Japan and Hong Kong), and it also refuses to tell you how big each file is going to be, until you’ve actually started downloading it. Which is infuriating if only because of how insignificant it would be to implement – why can’t I know that a demo is going to over a gig in size? It’s little more than some numbers typed into the main description. Other countries list the sizes! The menu organisation also sucks.
But, giving credit where it’s due, the UK account does have the following exclusives worth checking out (if these are available on another PSN, such as the US one, my apologies):
1) Dark Mist
A fairly average Smash TV clone with the burley men replaced by an ethereal anime girl. It’s alright, not bad, but not worth £6.25. It was recently reduced to less than a fiver at one point, which is when I bought it. Unfortunately it’s so repetitive I never made it past stage 4 (I think there’s 12 stages).
There’s no saving, so each time you start you need to play the entire game from scratch. Also, the online rankings are no longer working. On stage one I beat both the time and scores needed to tank around 400 out of 1000, and my score never showed up. I’ve read Halverson in PLAY complaining about the US not getting this, but really it’s not worth crying over. It’s also available on the Hong Kong PSN, in English, with the add-on which never saw release in the UK.
2) Bishi Bashi Special – PS1
At £3.49 this is an absolute steal of a bargain. A zany collection of 85 minigames in the Warioware mould, released long before Warioware. One minigame includes a bride throwing her wedding cake at guests. Awesome. A friend with a Japanese PS3 though found it wouldn’t work on his CRT – I’m not sure how it would fare on a US PS3, on either a CRT or HD TV. My guess is it will work fine in HD.
3) Movement series
Two dudes in a minivan tour Europe checking out new bands from Spain, France, England, and so on. The preview looked interesting but each episode is way too big to warrant me downloading it. I wish they’d included just the music videos, by themselves, instead of forcing you to also download the yawnsome interviews. I could do with a collection of music videos on my HDD.
There’s dozens of episodes all over the place and I downloaded a French one because it had a heavy metal band, but most of the file was a subtitled interview. I suppose if you have an amazing net connection it’s worth checking out. You’ll find it hidden under “other media”, or use the search function.
A collection of short indie films, a couple of minutes long. Alas, the UK’s incomprehensibly stupid filing system means it’s bloody tough to find these. Once you actually reach the Shoot section, you’re presented only with trailers for the films. For a long time I’d assumed the films weren’t on PSN. Some time later I discovered that I needed to click on the Director’s names, each of which have their own sub-directory, and inside of which are about half a dozen files, like making ofs, a director interview, the director's pitch, and a whole bunch of other crap which no-one would ever want. Seriously, who gives a sh*t about some guy's pitch for a film? Just gimme the film already! The films themselves are actually hidden somewhere amongst this lot of irrelevant files.
Because displaying the films prominently as the first item in the Shoot folder, for easy access, is too much to ask, right? Because why would anyone be interested in the actual films when you could instead watch half-a-dozen other videos which are not the films? What a bunch of nobs Sony’s PSN department is. The whole of the UK’s PSN reeks of incompetent management.
Anyway, I didn’t like most of the films, but the following 3 are worth the effort of making a UK account:
Surreal comedy with a very British sense of humour.
2) 8.3 Minutes
A bit creepy, and a bit gruesome. It reminds me of all those Sega CD FMV games. I can’t say anymore without spoiling it.
3) Prison Food – light-hearted comedy about 2 guys in prison, imagining they’re in a restaurant.
The other stuff includes some daft comedies, and a really awful art-house drama about some dude on a lake.
And that, gentleman, is the sum of the “good” exclusive content on the UK’s PSN. Well, there’s also a movie trailer section, and some music tracks to download, but it’s all rather lacklustre. If there’s anything else you like which is exclusive, which I didn’t mention, please post in the comments...
Oh, I forgot, there’s also a ton of bloody awful Disney licenses in the PS1 section. Which is a fair trade I guess, because you know, America gets Castlevania and Japan gets Metal Slug, and we get Winny the Pooh and the Little Mermaid. *
Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to hunt down the insipid, ineffectual cretin in charge of our PSN, and jam their head into a honey pot.
* I realise it’s the individual publisher’s who are at fault for not putting their games on the UK PSN, but if what I heard six months ago is true, the woman in charge of the UK’s PSN is a European who doesn’t even speak English properly, is forever swanning around getting her hair done and is hopelessly disorganised to the point where it’s impossible to work with her. If Sony Europe had any appreciation of money, they’d get their act together, sack the woman on grounds of failing to perform her duties, hire someone competent who understands their job, start organising additional content and make it easier for European publishers to put stuff up.
But hey, at least we get Pooh Bear, right?