The Case for the PSP

Despite all the criticism, I recently picked up a PSP. I had my doubts about it, having heard all of the negative things about the unit - the long load times, the ridiculous pricing of UMD movies, the lack of non-stellar titles and the missing analog stick -but I liked the idea of portable gaming for plane rides so I decided to give it a shot. And I’m glad I did.

I’m a PSP convert. Because I purchased a PSP 2 years after it came out, I feel as if I skipped its problematic phase and am now enjoying the handheld the way Sony originally hoped it would be enjoyed.

  • There are stellar titles out there for the PSP. I’m personally enjoying Wipeout, Dark Mirror, Sid Meier’s Pirates, NBA LIVE '06, Marvel Trading Card Games and Metal Gear Solid Portable Ops. But in addition, there’s Daxter, GTA Liberty Stories, GTA Vice City Stories, and soon to come God of War 2.

  • Secondly, many games for the PSP are now cheap. First, there’s the fact that the system is old enough now that there are many “classic” titles available under the “Greatest Hits” pricing. But secondly, because the PSP hasn’t taken off like the DS, I’m finding all sorts of PSP game deals. I went to my local used video game store and saw four great PSP games for sale… $5 each. The ones I couldn’t find there were all on Amazon for less than $10 each.

  • Thirdly, and here’s the rub for me, these games look far better than anything on the DS. The chart below is a bit overblown in the PSP’s favor because in true Sony fashion, the PSP’s hyped CPU speed is faster than what it actually delivers (about 222Mhz, not 333Mhz). But still, even at that speed, the PSP is head and shoulders above the DS.

But who cares? It comes down to the games. And on that count, for the most part, I’d rather play games on the PSP than on the DS. I like some of the games I tried on the DS… but they all look like kids titles to me. The PSP games look like the games I’m used to playing.

  • Load times. In my experience, there hasn’t been a game yet where I’ve experienced inordinately long load times, certainly nothing longer than what you’d find on a normal console (hell, the load times for Fight Night - on the 360 - are more annoying than the load times for the PSP games I’ve played). I imagine the developers have just gotten better at developing for the PSP.

  • UMD movies have dropped in price. Yes, some UMD movies are still $24.99. But as far as I can tell, the norm appears to be $9.99 new at most stores, less if you buy online at places like Amazon. I perused the selection at Best Buy and found Spiderman 2, Sin City, Tron an the Dark Crystal all for $9.99 new. That said, as with the situation with their games, used video game stores have them for less. I picked up Black Hawk Down and Sin City for $5 each.

  • Memory card prices have continued to fall. Back when the PSP first came out, 1gig was the sweet spot. But it would set you back about $90. Now you can pick up a 4gig card for that price. But really, that’s overkill. For $40, you can have a 2gig card and carry around 4 movies with you anytime you travel.

So in sum, I’m a PSP convert. Basically, the current state of play for the PSP is a much more attractive package than when the PSP first launched. The unit itself is cheaper. You can pick up a whole slew of great games for under $10. Ditto UMD movies discs, if you are so inclined. With portable memory prices falling all the time, a 2gig stick for the PSP is also dirt cheap. And on the whole, the system plays the games I want to play close to the level of graphical quality I’ve come to expect.

NOTE: Doing a search for “PSP” on these boards is neigh impossible because it only contains three letters. Hence, I’m spelling out the full name for this thread: PlayStation Portable.

The PSP isn’t a normal console, it is a handheld. “Normal” console load times are unacceptable (for me) on a portable. Also the battery life sucks. The PSP is a decent “play in bed” console…but it sucks as an actual portable.

There’s also the redesign that’s in the works as well…although I expect the new version to be even less gaming centric than it is right now.

Mileage will vary on what is and isn’t acceptable when it comes to load times. But I would like to think I’m as impatient as the next guy (some who have worked for me will tell you I’m probably more impatient than the next guy). And I’ve not had a bang-my-head load experience yet with the PSP.

Regarding battery life, what “sucks” about it? I played the PSP for nearly FOUR HOURS straight on an airplane to London. I got all the gaming I wanted out of it. I honestly can’t imagine playing longer than that. If I were a kid, and taking a road trip with my parents, maybe I would complain.

But I really think the PSP’s-battery-life-sucks charge is overblown. For anyone interested, I’d recommend that you actually read stories that have been written about the PSPs battery life first. IGN posted a great story that test the PSPs battery life and came to the following conclusions:

Hard performance (high graphical quality game playing on full brightness):
3 hours and 32 minutes

Heavy UMD Gameplay:
5 hours and 9 minutes

Multiplayer Gameplay:
2 hours and 46 minutes

Just MP3s:
10 hours and 39 minutes

Maybe I don’t use my PSP the same way as all of you, but in the 20 months I’ve had mine now I think I’ve run the battery down twice. That includes weekends where we’ve gone away and I’ve used it on and off as a boredom buster plus almost every day on my regular 45 minute commute. Battery life is just not that big a deal.

Load times can occasionally be a problem, but that’s almost always a developer problem, not a hardware one. Also, it’s not so much of a big deal if you’re loading from the MS and not the UMD :)

I bought my PSP on day 1, and while the DS has a far better lineup of games, I agree with Jake that the PSP is without a doubt the far better travel companion. Its ability to play some excellent games (Tekkken DR, MGS Ops, Loco Roco, Burnout, etc.), music, UMD movies, television shows I’ve ripped to the Duo Pro, plus the flawless SNES emulation and homebrew stuff, not to mention the internet browsing, and so on.

The DS is great fun, but if I had to get rid of one of them, for me with the traveling, I’d get rid of the DS before my PSP.

I appreciate my PSP from technical / geek perspective… I just wish I had a reason to turn it on.

Sure, there are a few decent titles for it, but none of them are better than what I’m playing on the 360 or PC. If you’re not on a plane (or train / bus, etc.), the incentive to use the device is low.

It’s mostly about the games for me too. Scaled down console games are not what I’m looking for on my handheld companion, thus my PSP has mostly been collecting dust for the last year or so.

My goodness, man. You mean a $169 machine that fits in your pocket, does not play games as well as a $399 console that weighs 10 pounds. The humanity!

Flawless SNES emulation? Apparently I wasn’t aware of this… Can the PSP play original NES titles also? I missed the SNES but really loved some of the games on NES.

The PSP has been disappointing in a few ways, but I don’t feel any buyer’s remorse at all.

The battery life isn’t an issue for me, since the only time I use it unplugged is when on break at work playing against friends.

The MP3-playback feature is not great (who at Sony do we have to kiss the ass of to get some playlist functionality on this thing?!), but for someone who doesn’t own an iPod or Zune, it’s certainly acceptable.

The video playback feature is superb thanks to the large screen. It makes my iPod-only friends so jealous.

The web browsing feature is neat if you have absolutely no other portable option. I don’t use it now that I have a great tiny laptop, and the PSP’s limited RAM means you have to shut off image loading/scripting if you want to avoid out-of-memory errors on most sites. But it served me well enough for over a year.

As far as pure gaming goes, I just don’t see how the DS is so much better. I’ll admit I haven’t paid too much attention to it recently now that the Meteos, Kirby Canvas and Advance Wars hubbub has died down (those three games were definitely the shiznit), so I’m probably overlooking some really good recent titles. But I think the PSP’s had more than enough games to hold its own.

As I mentioned above, not a day goes by that I’m not playing Tekken 5, MVP 2006 Baseball or Guilty Gear Judgement against a coworker. The replayability of those games is just sick.

On the single-player front, you can’t find Metal Gear Acid 1/2 anywhere else, and for my money they’re the best things to have ever been given the Metal Gear name. Lumines 2 is superb once you struggle through the challenge modes enough to unlock all the songs and can finally permanently do away with the songs you dislike the most. (The mere fact that they included a playlist feature for L2 renders L1 hopelessly obsolete.) Pirates! is, you know, Pirates!, except now on a handheld, which means it’s pure greatness in handheld format. Monster Hunter and Kingdom Of Heaven are two surprisingly strong action-RPGs. Puzzle Quest is a nice new twist on Bejeweled clones. If the Disgaea and Romance Of The Three Kingdoms ports are even half as good as any of their PS2 counterparts, then right there will be two games that clearly outshine anything I’ve seen on the DS.

I haven’t even looked at all the old-school SHMUP options out there. There’s classics like the Gradius series, stuff I’ve never heard of but looks spiffy such as Xyanide, the port of Every Extend looks pretty neat…

The disappointments I’ve run into were LotR:Tactics (just plain dull), Untold Legends 1 (I hear that UL2 is much better, but I was so bored by 1 that I’m not going to give it a shot), WWE Smackdown-vs-RAW (a good game that suffered from such ungodly load times that it became the subject of mocking Youtube videos), and Dynasty Warriors (all the little twists on the game did nothing to alleviate the feeling of same-old same-old). This list is still heavily outweighed by all the positives.

The only thing I hate hate hate about the PSP is this wack-assed UMD drive. Otherwise, I’ve been really happy with it. It had a rough start, but that’s starting to look like SOP with Sony.

Yeah. The screen isn’t quite as nice as my 56" HDTV, either. What’s up with that? Fuckin’ Sony.

Again, I appreciate the technical abilities of the device. And there are some good games for it. I just haven’t found any that are good enough to pull me away from my other games / systems.

Maybe I’m not the ideal candidate for a PSP since I don’t use public transportation and I’m never far from my PC / 360? I don’t know.

There are a whole bunch of terrific PS1 games, and the PSP emulates all of them perfectly.

Except for Vib Ribbon.

I never had my battery run down till I got puzzle quest. Now its happen 3 times. I swear I’m getting less than 3 hours.

How do I get them without -

a) hacking my firmware

or

b) owning a PS3?

Between games and video playback I’ve gotten far more use from my PSP. The DS has sort of fallen by the wayside for me. Haven’t used it much in months.

How do I get them without -

You don’t!

That said, “hacking firmware” makes it sound a lot more like something only robots should attempt than it actually is. They should call it something less imposing, like “pressing a button when prompted to press the button.”

Score.

What was this thread about, again?

If D&D Tactics is a good game I will be getting a PSP. Its supposed to come out in June I think.