cardon's PQ: Practical Intelligence Quotient (PlayStation Portable) review

See if your intelligence is up to the standards in PQ

PQ: Practical Intelligence Quotient is actually one of the most original games to hit the PSP. Released nearly a year ago in Japan under the title Intelligent License, PQ is finally hitting the U.S. PQ is an indirect follow up to the cult PS1 game Intelligent Qube and I.Q Remix: Intelligent Qube for the PS2. PQ has you navigating yourself through virtual reality style rooms as you try to pass a series of puzzles or “questions” as they are referred to in the game. The game sounds easy which isn't the case but you will definitely have fun during the game.

PQ was also thought of by a professor named Masuo Koyasu. Mr. Koyasu is a psychology professor at Kyoto University. Mr. Koyasu has a theory which explains that there are at least seven independently functioning units of intelligence. Mr. Koyasu then applied this theory to games. He believes that this Practical Intelligence Quotient will replace the old paper IQ tests. So basically anyone who plays this game is getting a cool scientific study that isn’t boring and may become the standard of the future.

One of the most striking things about the game is its simple look. You control a white colored character through levels that are a mix of MGS’s VR rooms and Tron. The levels have a neon look to them sometimes which is quite striking against the black backgrounds and is reminiscent of the film Tron. The amount of detail in the levels is nothing to talk about but for a puzzle game they are pretty sharp. The game has a grid look to it so that is where the MGS VR missions and Tron look comes from. There are no fancy visuals effects in the game so don’t be expecting a graphical show piece of the PSP’s power. The game is stylish however and has some very nice menu designs and a very cool intro.

The main gameplay mechanics is to navigate a series of puzzles to reach a white door. There are a total of 100 puzzles in the game each with a time limit. Times for a question usually range from around 1 minute for some to 12 minutes for others. If you fail a question you will just continue to the next one. This creates a nice flow to the game since you will never be stuck at one particular question. The puzzles may range from moving objects so you can reach higher areas, avoiding guards, or map memory puzzles. Most of the levels will have you moving a block which is quite simple to do but figuring out how to use them is the hard part. The game makes this mechanic hard by having moving walkways, lasers, or moving stairs. The stealth levels are actually easy since all you have to do is avoid the light from the guard’s flashlight. Stealth does get harder in the game since more guard appears and with a faster movement pattern. There are also stealth missions where you have to move blocks or open doors while being undetected. Upon finishing a level you are scored on how fast you finished and the amount of moves you made. After you finish the game you are told what your playing style is, whether you are the "Pondering Type" or the "Action Type". Players can then go online via the PSP and post their scores to see how they stack up against other players and other countries.

The game may grow tiresome to some since you're constanly doing the same game mechanics all the time. Some puzzles have different game mechanics in one puzzle. This adds some variety to the game and makes you think more. My biggest gripe with the game is how your character can't jump off of small platforms. You can't jump off a platform that may be four feet high. I found this tedious when I hit a dead end and had to walk all the way back to the steps.

The controls are pretty much simple. You control your character with the d-pad and you interact with objects using the x button. Moving or picking up objects is quite simple to do and is never a chore. Movement is based on a grid system so that takes awhile to get used to. The L and R buttons are for camera movement and you will definitely be using the camera often. At times the camera is obscured by objects and sometimes this is done on purpose but most of the time it isn’t. It’s best to rotate the camera around the environment so you get a better understanding of the layout.

The soundtrack in PQ is an interesting mix of techno infused with classical music. There is definitely a techno vibe in the soundtrack but most of the music sounds like something from a classical radio station. The music is good but some players may grow tired of it since you'll be listening to it for 100 levels.

PQ is definitely a pick for those who are aching for a puzzle game that will actually make you think before you act. While the game does get extremely hard at the end you will still be determined to find out the solution and continue on. This game is not for everyone though so for those PSP users out there longing for a quality game I would recommend renting the game to test it out. There will definitely be times will you will want to throw your PSP in frustration. PQ is a unique game that should be recognized for its originality and what it brings to the gaming industry.
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