Hellboy - hands-on

By now, Hellboy fans have had time to wash the filthy taste of 2004's PSone disaster Hellboy: Asylum Seeker out of their mouths. Don't know what we're talking about? Let's keep it that way - the big red paranormal investigator is lumbering back onto the videogame scene in the fall, and this time it looks like he's coming correct.

When he arrives, though, it'll be in two distinct incarnations. One's a dark-looking, deeply interactive brawler for the PS3 and Xbox 360, and the other is a bright, colorful beat 'em-up tailor-made for the PSP. They both seem to follow the same story and feature similar locales and enemies, but the PSP one's a lot simpler. No surprise there, but at least it's an original game.

Our time with the PSP Hellboy was spent mostly traipsing through a big desert ruin populated by clockwork-looking monsters, who'd jump out whenever groups of big blue rocks popped up to block our path. While those floating rocks probably have some significance to the story, they're also one of the most tired brawler conventions ever: artificial barriers that keep you from advancing until everyone's dead.

Dumb hindrances aside, the game offers up some respectable pummeling, with Hellboy charging up his giant stone hand with magical energy before busting out effortless combos and tossing enemies around. The grappling didn't feel as deep as the console versions' creative maiming and aerial juggling, but it got the job done. And when we were sick of using Hellboy's fists, we could yank occasional pots and things out of the environment to wield as a weapon, and Hellboy's pistol was simple to aim.