Only Quick With the Truth

<div class=\"postavatar\">Only Quick With the Truth</div>

Let me say upfront that I was pretty excited when I got my PSP (it was an unexpected but well-received birthday gift back in early ’06). I had previously opted to get a DS (also a well-received gift), partly because it was more affordable, but also because I believed it was the better gaming system. In fact, there was a hot DS vs. PSP debate going on in the d+pad forums and I was one of the few who was voicing support for the DS. Sadly, that data has since been lost to a corrupted DB, but to sum it up, the DS was being mocked for its ugly case design, much lower system specs and “useless touch screen gimmick”.

It may seem hard to believe now, but at the time a lot of people were absolutely convinced that the DS was going to fail and that Nintendo’s dominance in the handheld gaming market was about to end. Indeed, when you compare the design and hardware capabilities of the PSP to the DS that was a pretty safe position to take. But in the video game industry, having the most advanced hardware does not guarantee success—it’s the games that matter. The runaway success of the Wii over the more powerful Xbox 360 and PS3 is just the latest example of this rule.

So here we are, well over two years later. The dust has settled, both handhelds have had design revisions (one thing everyone could agree on was that the original DS was ugly), and game developers have had plenty of time to figure out how to take advantage of each system’s capabilities. Which brings me to the point of this lengthy prologue and today’s comic—where are the PSP games?

Aside from a few notable exceptions, most releases for the PSP have been mediocre at best. Despite the system’s impressive specs, we’re being forced-fed bad console ports and retro game collections that don’t come near to taking advantage of what the PSP has to offer. Do we really need a $200 system (after the recent price drop) with a brilliant widescreen LCD to play Pitfall?

Something is wrong here and it’s not being solved by frequent firmware patches that still can’t make the PSP’s Web browser work properly. Sure, with a large enough memory stick the PSP can play downloaded movies (don’t get me started on UMD video) and music, but so can an iPod. The PSP is meant to be a gaming system first, with cool multimedia features included as delicious gravy. Is the new PSP 2000 or “PSP Lite” going to turn the tide? It’s unlikely, but at least I have my DS to keep me busy while I wait…


joe at dpad dot ca

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