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The 3rd Birthday Review

Players expecting The 3rd Birthday to recall the tense PE-managing mechanics of its decade-old inspiration are likely to be disappointed. Beyond the return of the Aya Brea and a handful of references to events, people, and places, Birthday purposefully distances itself from its Parasite Eve linage. Whether this is due to lapsed IP rights (the original games were based on the 1995 novel of the same name) or that the developers at HexaDrive wanted a fresh start is unknown. However, what the title does unambiguously articulate is the advantage a single, clever design decision.

That mechanic is known as ‘Overdive’, and it allows Aya to step into the skin of any friendly in the adjacent vicinity with the press of the triangle button. Taking over another body has a number of key tactical advantages, from setting up shared ballistic assaults called ‘crossfires’, to transferring into a skin with a higher HP reserve. Curiously, Aya can even retain part of her arsenal when shifting skins, embedding the title with a modicum of ammo management. Players can sporadically jump into stunned foes, exterminating an enemy from within. For gamers accustomed to more pedestrian FPS conventions, rapid changes in perspective when shifting about can occasionally be disorienting. Yet, players who have the perseverance to master overdive can be formidable killing machines.

While 3rd Birthday‘s control scheme is designed to make the most of  the PSP’s constricted control methods, a few problems arise during combat. Although the developers rely on a liberal amount of auto-aim during the title’s firefights, once enemies increase in quantity or speed,  precision becomes a scarce commodity. Both changing targets and moving the camera are mapped to the directional-pad, forcing a player’s hand off the analog nub used to move Aya.

Additional assistance can be found in the title’s rich customization component. Killing the game’s antagonists and completing levels rewards player with Bounty Points, which can used to enhance or augment your loadout. With six types of upgradable arms- ranging from pistols, assault rifles, shotguns, sniper rifles, grenade launchers, and special weapons, Birthday delivers a gratifying tech-tree of offensive firepower. Similarly, Over Energy chips allow players to tweak with DNA, providing buffs such as increased shot power, health regeneration, or an increased defense.

While the title’s storyline is initially attention grabbing, with an enigmatic threat which engulfs New York City. However, a dependence on amnesia, time-travel, and keeping the story excessively ambiguous likely means players will travel from one stage to the next without a clear grasp of the game’s events. Seemingly, the ‘overdive’ mechanic has also been contextualized  to Birthday‘s plotline. Despite the narrative haziness, the game’s cinematics are rendered with pixel-sharp clarity, and a consistently pleasing. Likewise, the title’s in-game graphics are impressive, with deftly dithered  backgrounds which capture 3rd Birthday‘s dark vibe. For better or worse, fastidious dedication was applied to Aya’s character model, whose clothes tear provocatively as she takes damage. Regretfully, more attention was devoted to rendering the heroine’s left ass cheek, then creating a personality which complemented the pathos of the game.

The 3rd Birthday works best when players are battling a seemingly insurmountable foe- frantically shifting bodies to find the sniper capable of dispensing the final, killing blow. Although this type of approach will dishearten fans eager for a methodical Parasite Eve epilogue, for action game admirers, The 3rd Birthday may be an event worthy of your presence and patience.


About Robert Allen

With over 35 years of gaming experience, Robert 'DesertEagle' Allen is Tech-Gaming's resident worrier/warrior who spends his days teaching at three colleges and his nights devoted to JRPGs.


  1. First! Didn’t this come out a little ways back?

  2. Can you download it off PSN?

    Oh, wait….PSN is DOWN like a CRACKED-OUT CLOWN.

  3. Parasite Eve 2 was all real-time, but I get what you are saying.

  4. Man, I really need to get my PSP charged and get a new game for it. Last thing I got was the Hot Shots Mini Games.

  5. There must be something wrong with you all if you don’t like the sight of a woman’s ass.

  6. Electric Relaxation

    Can she still make people combust into flames at least?

  7. I’m always a sucker for SE’s PSP games. They look great and usually play pretty good. Might get this after Dissidia 012.

  8. I noticed the review on this seem to be generally negative especially with the controls. Thats means I’ll get it when it drop in price but not at $40.

  9. I played about 3 hours of the game and like it. Not too frustrating on the normal setting and still fun.

  10. A few points-

    This IS Parasite Eve 3; pay attention to the story and you’ll see it continues the plotline, and does it well. Yes, you have to wait until the ending, but most things are explained.

    I didn’t have ANY problems with the controls.

  11. Aren’t the first two games on PSN?

    I cant check, cause you know- it’s been down forever….

  12. eternal trident pride

    How are the bosses? Any from PE1 or 2?

  13. One of the better reviews. Some of the really big sites seemed to mark the game down for small stuff that didn’t really affect gameplay (the clothes, Kunihiko Maeda’s change, etc). It’s the game that matters.

  14. They be stupid to not bring a few characters back to fight.

    (yes I played it, finished it- it’s pretty short, and can confirm that)

  15. Um, most places have it for $30 or so now.

  16. Yeah, some critics can be super picky. Thats why its good to read at least 3 reviews.

  17. Sounds like it would have been much better as a PS3 game.

  18. I might have to pick this up one day.

  19. No video review for this one?

  20. Yep, this is one of the game where I think a lot of critics (and dare I say DEagle) were too harsh on the game.

  21. This review just reminded me I really need to play (and finish) Metal Gear Solid Peace Walker

  22. My problem is that Aya used to be this kick ass female character and no she’s just weak eye candy. Bring back the old Aya, S-E!

  23. Whats the lowest price for 3rd Bday right now?

  24. You should have titled the review “Mildly Happy 3rd Birthday” 😉

    Good review, Des!

  25. Was this on PSN? I ask because Quare sometime doesn’t put their PSP game for Go owners,like with Kingdom Hearts.

  26. Ok…Give me your email address and let me send you a pic of my coworkers enormous (and not in a J-LO way) arse.

    It’s not pretty and would fill a PSP screen.

  27. Good review. I pretty much with all of it.

  28. Intelligent Zombie

    Birthdays should all have mandatory ass cheeck.