Have you ever played a game and thought “Damn, this may very well be the greatest game of all time,” yet you feel you’re part in a minority when you think that? That’s Psychonauts in a nutshell. One of the greatest games of all time, and sadly one of the most underplayed.
The Most Excellent Game Psychonauts began life as an exclusive Xbox title to be published by Microsoft. Apparently for some unknown reason, Microsoft decided to drop it from their list of titles. Despite not having a publisher, the game kept on trucking until Majesco picked it up and saved it from possible cancellation.
The story of Psychonauts commences with a boy with amazing psychic abilities by the name of Rasputin (or Raz for short) interrupting a secret psychic camp meeting. Eventually, Raz introduces himself and expresses his desire to become a Psychonaut, a psychic agents who use their abilities to battle psycho-terrorism and retrieving vital information from other people’s minds. Over time he realizes that not everything is what it seems, and that he’s in the middle of a mental mishap of memory problems with Raz being the only one who can stop it.
This game is perhaps home to the best training levels to date. While most games have tutorial levels that seem like a chore, Psychonauts manages to make the them not seem like training levels in other games, with the game actually progressing instead of it being outside the realm of the actual story. The general levels themselves vary from a terrifying underwater bottom where you must survive Linda’s wrath by staying in a moving protective layer at all times to avoid being drowned to being the famed Goggalor (a tremendously huge version of Raz “threatening” Lungfishopolis); from the infamous Black Velvet level about a man named Edgar who lost his girlfriend to a bull fighter, as the level takes place in Spain in (what else?) black velvet and neon lights.
To be frank, there is nearly nothing wrong with the game. The writing is pretty humorous (Agent Cruller’s various job descriptions throughout the game are hilarious). The supporting characters and Raz all do a good job at what they do in terms of making you believe the reason for them they’re at the psychic camp. The music suits the occasion for every location you go to, such as the groovy disco tune from Milla’s psyche. The only complaint I have (if you can even call it that) is that some fetch quests seem too long to complete, let alone do.
I’m going to go as far and proclaim The Most Excellent Game Psychonauts the greatest platformer on the Xbox. There’s really no other game in the past generation in terms of platformers that had witty comedy, excellent level design, and a perfect amount of longetivity. It’s a pity that this game wasn’t received well, yet if you had any sense of justice in your soul, you’d hunt a copy from eBay or find a store that has it and play to your heart’s content.