Cash Money Chaos First Look

SOE brings insane run-and-gun action to the PSP. Smash TV who?

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Though video games have gotten progressively more sophisticated in the decades since Pong first hooked people, there's something to be said for simplicity. Take Sony Online Entertainment's Cash Money Chaos, a hectic run-and-gun shooter for the PlayStation Portable that's channeling the spirit of Midway's old top-down shooters Smash TV and Total Carnage. We had the chance to get a look at an early work-in-progress version of the game recently, and it's looking like it could be a fluffy piece of mindless fun with explosions.

Cash Money Chaos will give you a healthy dose of overhead-shooting blood and guts on the PSP.
Cash Money Chaos will give you a healthy dose of overhead-shooting blood and guts on the PSP.

The game's premise is simple: Aliens have abducted some hapless humans. However, rather than the traditional probing that occurs in these situations, Cash Money Chaos's aliens have decidedly different intentions for the soft, fleshy earthlings. It seems these visitors from another planet are pretty big fans of '70s game shows and intend to subject their recently abducted victims to a deadly version of them. As one of the abducted, you'll have to run like the wind and shoot like an Uzi to survive.

The game is banking on getting a lot of mileage out of its '70s game-show theme by using it as the centerpiece to its gameplay. The game will send you through 10 seasons of game shows. The seasons are levels broken up into smaller stages, called episodes, which are then further broken down into traditional stages, as well as bonus rooms. At the end of each season, you'll face off against an unpleasant boss who's eager to murder you. The catch to progressing is that you'll have to do some multitasking. Besides murdering everything that comes near you, you'll have to collect the cash your perforated foes will drop to meet the cash requirement necessary for the next room. As you make your way through each season, you'll earn one of more than 100 fabulous prizes that are being included in the game. Each season and boss will go along with a set theme; the demo we played was a circus theme that threw clown cars, circus trains, strong men, and the obligatory insane clown at us. Other themes that will be on hand in the final game will include a ghost town, story book, swamp, football, and military.

In addition to the single-player experience, you'll find four-player co-op and eight-player versus on special maps made to accommodate the insanity. You'll be able to choose from one of the four kidnapped humans to play as, two male and two female, none of which are currently named.

Who needs Mutoid Man when you have carnage like this?
Who needs Mutoid Man when you have carnage like this?

The gameplay is straight forward and does what it can to approximate the Smash TV/Total Carnage dual-stick control mechanic on the PSP. You'll move your character with the analog stick or D pad and use the face buttons to shoot up, down, left, and right. You'll be able to shoot diagonally by holding down two buttons at the same time. So what weapons will you be shooting? The work-in-progress version we tried featured a shotgun and a rocket launcher. The final game's arsenal is still being ironed out but is expected to include a flamethrower, a lightning gun, a goo gun, and a grenade launcher. In addition, you'll find power-ups like speed, rapid fire, cash multipliers, time slow, health, and shields. Another element to the chaos is the effects triggered by collecting cards or letters from defeated foes. If you collect the right cards to have a winning poker hand, or letters that spell out the level you're on, you'll earn bonuses like screen-clearing explosions.

Based on what we've seen, Cash Money Chaos could be a fun arcade shooter for the PSP, which is something the system is missing. The multiplayer support should be extremely cool and is obviously something we've been anxious to see more of on the PSP. Cash Money Chaos is currently slated to ship early next year. Look for more on the game in the coming months.

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