PSP vs DS w/twist: which has better narratives?

Pretty much what the title says. We have quite a few PSP vs DS threads already, but which one is better for games that tell stories? This won’t be the only thing I consider, of course – but the other threads have ‘pure gameplay’ down, and the PSP’s media capabilities are moot to me, since I have an N95.

By “tell stories”, I include e.g.:

  • FFT and most console RPGs - traditional linear game storytelling, through dialogue and cutscenes;
  • Planescape: Torment - semi-linear storytelling, through dialogue (and lots of it);
  • Ico/SOTC - “show, not tell”, which used few words but evoked everything from “get away from her, you bitch!” protectiveness, to awe at the colossi.

I exclude games such as Civ, X-Com, and Dominions, which are solely about your enacting a story.

Based on this criterion, it sounds like the PSP has an edge, with Disgaea and FFT: War of the Lions beating Fire Emblem and Phantom Hourglass.


Phoenix Wright and Hotel Dusk come to mind immediately.

My, extremely subjective opinion, is that the PSP has stories with more depth. Jeanne D’Arc is awesome (especially for an Irishman who is thrilled to see the English painted as actual demons - tongue firmly in cheek) and Disgaea (my GOTY) is one of the funniest games I’ve ever played (plus, it’s huge in the same way you think of God’s tits as huge).

I’d get a library card. Best narratives in the world for free! And if you must have voice acting, you can get audio books.

Tromik: I’ve heard a bit about Phoenix Wright’s entertaining quirkiness – what’s Hotel Dusk like?

Metta: I heard Jeanne degenerated into a generic fantasy story after a while – is that incorrect, then? I already have Disgaea for the PS2 (and the PSP version is far closer to the original than FFT’s), but it’s tempting anyway.

DeathMonkey: I have THREE of them already. See, also, ‘different ways of telling a story’. :P

Hmm… Puzzle Quest seems story-less (and is on both, anyway). EBA’s story sounds on a par with Katamari Damacy.

If you were to throw in GBA games, how would that change things?

Hotel Dusk is an adventure game. Reminds me quite a bit of the old PC point and click adventure games, with a different setting. The graphics and presentation add a lot as well.

Jeanne did indeed devolve into a cliched fantasy story about 75% of the way through. Puzzle quest also has a story, but it’s about as cliche as it gets unless you go after some of the side missions which aren’t bad. Still one of the best games I’ve ever played, though.

I’ve been playing far more PSP than DS lately, but I still give the nod to the DS overall. The PSP has a couple standouts but the DS has so many adventure games alone that it pulls ahead. GBA only helps this.

PSP has some very lengthy games with narrative, but they are more action oriented like Vice City Stories, The Warriors, and Silent Hill Origins.

I love the Phoenix Wright games, they justified my DS Lite purchase. I really enjoy the quirky characters and overall atmosphere of the games. Goofy but fun, and oddly compelling to see what happens next.

There is an Etna Mode on the PSP that has Etna kill Laharl instead of waking him, and then you play a whole new adventure :L

(I’m gobsmacked by how much game there is in Disgaea but admit that the impact might be diminished for someone who had already run through it on the PS2.)

There are at least six adventure games on DS. There are none whatsoever on PSP. Those are really the most narrative heavy games out there. RPGs do have a fair bit, but the PSP’s are mostly story-light action RPGs, or tactical RPGs. And while there’s a bunch of story to Disgaea, FF:Tactics, and Jeanne D’Arc, in at least the first two cases you will spend vastly more game time in totally narrative-free random battles grinding. Fun grinding, but not story-based at all. Of course, so far the DS has almost no RPGs to speak of and the ones it does have are, again, pretty story light for the most part.

Thanks a lot, guys!

Oh yeah, I’d forgotten about the Etna Mode. How meaty is it compared to the core game? (Also, arrrgh – trying to google to answer that question spoiled its story. This is why it’s probably safer to just ask here…)

Hmmm. I enjoy adventure games for their narratives and quirky characters, so I should like that aspect of Phoenix Wright. OTOH, I can never get anywhere in them without a walkthrough…

I actually don’t mind the extensive story-less grinding in the likes of FFT – what matters to me is that, when there is a story, it’s good. I’m also happy to consider action-RPGs, SRPGs, action-adventure titles, etc.

I guess neither platform has anything along the lines of Ico/SOTC?

If you didn’t play the original PC version, there is a surprisingly excellent port of the adventure classic Broken Sword/Circle of Blood on the GBA.

It’s not as artisty, but the last Prince of Persia game on the PSP was pretty awesome IMO.

Hotel Dusk is an adventure game so linear, that it is essentially broken. During a certain time period, there are a bunch of things you must do. The catch? They must be done in a certain (unknowable) order, even if the things are completely unrelated.

You will hit a point where you know what you must do… but you can’t do it, because you haven’t done some completely unrelated thing yet.

Fuck Hotel Dusk.

You also pretty much have to keep external notes, because if you stop playing anywhere inside a chapter without doing so, you will probably be completely lost when you come back. Or at least I was.

That’s why I sent it back to Gamefly around Chapter 3 or so.

Don’t forget that SCUMMVM DS adds all of the LucasArts P&C Adventures.

Eh. There’s a PSP release of ScummVM and it’s a lot less expensive (if a bit trickier) to get PSPs running homebrew vs doing the same with DS.

If you want a game of pure narrative and little actual game - Lifesigns Surgical Unit will fit nicely. I’ll have a review coming up on Gameshark shortly that delves into this a bit.

Actually, I’m hoping for something that fuses narrative and game. :) I have no objection to pure-narrative stuff – like those Japanese ‘visual novels’ – but I’d be very selective about them. I just read a review of Lifesigns, and it doesn’t sound like what I’d want to play on a bus…

Played Circle of Blood, plus a few of the SCUMM games, on the PC. Still, thanks for the suggestions! Malkav, what makes PSP homebrew cheaper? DS homebrew kit doesn’t seem that expensive, based on a quick googling…

Hotel Dusk is sounding decidedly iffy to me. Ah well.

Hmm. As far as RPGs and SRPGs go, the DS has Front Mission, plus assorted FF rereleases for DS and GBA (including VI!). I think I’ve only seen one post on Front Mission’s storytelling here – ‘goth angst with mecha’ or somesuch – but FM3 wasn’t bad. Anyone else played FM1 on DS?

Hotel Dusk has a good story and an unusual art style, and makes good use of the DS touch screen. But Charles is right, it’s one of those adventure games that must be played with a GameFAQs printout at hand or you’ll go crazy.