It's exciting and inconvenient all at once, when reviewing games on a new platform, and the Mini version of Hero of Sparta proves that Sony's new bite-sized range of PSP games should be considered a new platform.
The iPhone hack 'n' slash Hero of Sparta was undeniably hewn from the pieces of beat-'em-up rubble left in the wake of God of War, so it's actually very fitting that Gameloft has released this as a PSP Minis launch title.
You step into the hard-man sandals of King Argos, picking up his sword after being smote upon the beach of a strange and peril-packed island. There's a bastardised, action-movie-intelligent version of Greek mythology woven throughout, but what's really important is that you're here to kill everything else.
Sound trite? Well, I suppose it is, but fighting game fans and frenzied button mashers like myself like things trite – you don't have to feel as guilty when wiping the blood off your virtual sword.
The iPhone version of Hero of Sparta might have come along first, and the similarities between the two platforms are many, but there's no avoiding one simple advantage of playing this sword and sandal slasher on the PSP: the buttons.
Tactile, bashable buttons make the controls of the Minis Hero of Sparta far easier to adopt, while the extra screen size and far slicker code handling make it a fast and furious fight from beginning to end.
There's no pretending that this is any kind of cerebral experience. Monsters leap out of the ground, and you slay 'em. The environments shepherd you through the game quite blatantly, but none of this really matters. Hero of Sparta is a game of fast and frequent killing, and the action is relentless enough to stop you from over-analysing during play, and keeps your thumbs on the verge of cramping without apology.
This really is a poor man's God of War, but that's a genuine compliment. Naturally the whole affair is significantly reduced from the world of Kratos, but at £3.99 it's also less than quarter of the price, and fits inside of 50MB.
Taking these factors into account puts Hero of Sparta on a par with most every other quality hack 'n' slash out there, and is a great way to spill gallons of beautiful blood on the PSP Minis platform in celebration of its launch day.
More of this, and PSP Minis will be the arcade in your pocket that fighting game fans have long dreamed of.