Nintendo has come in for a lot of stick for naming its next console Wii. Upon its announcement, forum posters and webloggers raced to their keyboards to launch the largest deployment of puns seen since Carry On Up The Khyber was released in cinemas.
And yet Wii is nowhere near as bad as PlayStation Portable, a name which acts like a curse upon the PSP. It clearly establishes the PSP as a mini-PlayStation, so it’s partly to blame for the fact that the PSP’s game library consists mostly of ported PlayStation 2 games. Initially, this doesn’t seem like such a bad thing, but as any PSP owner can tell you, after a couple of months, it really starts to grate. Even decently done ports like Pro Evolution Soccer 5 offer little new content and, thanks to their polygon-heavy graphics, take ages to load. I didn’t pay £200 for the handheld equivalent of a Sinclair ZX Spectrum that offered cut-down versions of games I can already play at home.
Beit Hell 2000
After having played through Lumines, I considered selling my PSP for a Nintendo DS – but then I found Beit Hell 2000. All I knew about it when I ordered a copy from Ebay (where it’s sometimes listed as Byte Hell) was that it was a series of mini-games, like Wario Ware on the DS.
Although it is a mini-game compilation, it’s a lot stranger than that: having played it for the past couple of months, you could perhaps describe Beit Hell as a love letter to the ‘Akiba-kei’: the denizens of Tokyo’s Akihabara district, the hardcore gamer geeks who queue for hours for new consoles and who still obsess over the death of Aerith.
As you might expect from a country that was contemplating tentacle love at a time when in England a bare ankle could get you deported to the colonies, Beit Hell is a pretty warped love letter. The word ‘Beito’ derives from the German ‘Arbeit’, and it’s used by Japanese as a term for the McJobs that young people do. In the game, you work for the temp agency from hell, which employs a variety of monsters for receptionists – giant fiery slime man, big blue devil, weird fish eyething – and these freaks present you, to a backing track of the screams of the damned, a choice of jobs. Each job earns you cash, which you can then spend on the ‘Gaca Gacha’ machines. These are vending machines that sell capsule toys, and basically give you either junk to fill up your life or new jobs.