PQ: Practical Intelligence Quotient 2 PSP Review

Those who like getting a mental kick out of their PSP (to the point that they aren't lobbing it across the room, anyway) are probably absorbed enough as it is in Sega's Crush or D3 Publisher's "other" big hit, Puzzle Quest. Well, make room on your mental schedule for PQ: Practical Intelligence Quotient 2, the sequel to the fun brain-bending puzzle game from a couple of years back. This one features more puzzles, more challenges, and more reasons to enlist for a MENSA membership...or maybe grade school, depending on your performance in the game.

The basis of the game has you move a virtual character through stage after stage, moving around objects and essentially solving a level in order to move onto the next one. Sounds simple, right? Well, the first few levels are, to give players a hang of what they have coming. But as levels progress, they become harder and harder, eventually getting to the point that a solution may never surface. But just relax, think, and forget the time limit -- there is a solution to every puzzle.

Oh, did I say time limit? I damn sure did. PQ2 has added a time limit to several modes, challenging players to complete 100 levels -- yep, 100 -- in a matter of five hours. Now, if you don't finish all 100 levels or find a mental lapse that has you shut down before the time limit, no worries. You'll just be fried in the brain and forced to eat banana pudding the rest of your life. Nah, I kid. You'll get a Practical Intelligence Quotient score rating you on your performance, pushing you to try harder. The fact that the game mentally challenges without really laughing at you is one of its best benefits. Those who can't take such a worthy challenge can try their luck with something smaller, the Quick Test. Here, five puzzles must be completed in ten minutes. Then you can have your banana pudding afterwards.

Players not up for mentally timed challenges can check out the Theme Tests, dividing up certain puzzle types into groups for those who prefer such things. But the real beauty -- and replayability -- of PQ2 comes in the form of its Infrastructure support. The PQ2 development team at Now Production has promised new downloadable puzzles to go online weekly, meaning that the challenges never end. Furthermore, players can also submit their own cranium-cracking challenges by designing their own levels and turning them in for others to try. They can download user-created ones as well, a huge plus. Finally, to get a big "I told you so!" thing going on, interactive leaderboards keep track of scores worldwide, letting you know where you stand with others in terms of smarts. Don't print up those "Super Genius" business cards until you check this out.

The presentation could've used a little more work, I admit. The graphics do show neat little neon-lit colors and the objects are easy to see, but I expected more out of PQ2, since it is a sequel. Furthermore, the camera takes a while to swivel around, taking away precious time while the player just wants to see a better perspective on the level. Some better music variety would've been nice, too. What's here is good but gets old, especially with the five-hour challenge. Take an Ipod with you and listen to that instead -- and skip over Weird Al Yankovic's "Dare To Be Stupid" if you know what's good for you.

Overall, unless you were born in a Stupid Hospital or you just don't have the brain capacity to compete, PQ: Practical Intelligence Quotient 2 shouldn't be missed. The large count of puzzles is staggering enough without going online, but interacting with a wireless connection opens the door even further with developer-created and user-generated puzzles to tackle, as well as the option to create your own. Crush still owns this game as far as creativity is concerned, but its options make it pretty hard to turn down.

What's Hot: A number of puzzles to complete; Infrastructure support with new dowloadable puzzles and leaderboards; Create-your-own option.

What's Not: Presentation is minimal; Camera movement can be dead slow; May be too mentally challenging for some.