The Sony Playstation Portable (PSP):
Ah, the Sony PSP, the new love of my college life. It is an amazing, tiny, compact piece of heaven. Not only is it incredibly sleek, but it also packs the biggest punch in handheld gaming history. Its capabilities go beyond any other handheld on the market. The PSP not only plays games at or near Playstation2 quality, but also plays videos and music and displays pictures, unlike its rival, the Nintendo DS.
From a best-deal standpoint the PSP barely breaks even for what you get for paying the steep price of $249.99, the most expensive gaming device in today’s American market. If you’re a poor college student and techno geek like myself, you’ll think more than twice before buying it. However, you’ll eventually give in and preorder yourself one as they still may be on back order in most gaming stores.
Uploading pictures and music to the PSP is easy and is as simple as dragging and dropping your mp3s and jpegs from your computer into their specified folders in your PSP. Video clips and movies, on the other hand, must first be converted into Mpeg4 format before being transferred. Mpeg4 is the only video format that the PSP is able to read. There are a few Mpeg4 conversion programs available to download online that are fairly user friendly. Once the video files have been converted, they are as easy to upload as pictures and movies with the same drag-and-drop system. The resolution of the PSP’s screen is mouth watering, and depending on the quality that you download/convert, most times the end product is breathtaking. I am still very impressed with my PSP’s media functions. If you are interested in storing lots of media files on your PSP you may want to buy a one-gigabyte Duo memory card instead of using the 32-megabyte Duo card that comes with the PSP bundle pack. The gig card is costly, ranging in price from $120 to $150.
As for game and movie titles on the PSP, die-hard PS2 fans will see their favorite games and movies transferred over to the UMD (Universal Media Disc) PSP gaming format. Such gaming titles include Gran Turismo 4 Mobile, Madden NFL 2006, Grand Theft Auto, Armored Core Formula Front and my personal favorite, Core Crisis: Final Fantasy VII (a Final Fantasy VII side story) which is still in production and the Final Fantasy VII: Advent Children full feature film. On top of these solid and familiar titles, countless new games will be made especially for the PSP, such as role-playing games Rengoku: Tower of Purgatory and Coded Arms, the first first-person shooter coming to the PSP. Multiplayer modes on the PSP are great, with some games that give you the option of being able to directly connect to multiple PSPs or connect to the Internet and play other gamers online using a wireless connection such as the various USF wireless hot spots here on campus.
The PSP is said to have many flaws, some of which I agree. Some flaws include how delicate it is and its a short battery life. From my experience it is true that the PSP is fairly fragile, but with anything that costs close to a month’s rent I’m going to treat it with extreme care. There are also several inexpensive accessories that you can buy to protect your PSP. As for the short battery life, it is true that the Nintendo DS will last twice as long as the PSP on a full charge. However, there are many power-saving features built into the PSP that will help extend its five to six-hour battery life, such as screen intensity settings, volume settings and a sleep mode option. The truth is that the PSP is an amazing gaming system with many upgrades on the way, such as a fully functioning Web browser. Similar to any other Sony system, if there are legitimate flaws, they are bound to be improved shortly.
Nintendo DS (Double Screen):
The Nintendo DS is a fascinating handheld system. It breaks away from the traditional handheld gaming conventions by having two different screens, one being a touch screen. It was pretty fun to play, yet I owned one and I traded it in for the PSP.
Nintendo has been an unstoppable force in the handheld market up until the PSP. They have been successful with their rock-solid designs and great gaming titles such as the various Mario games, and even the recent remakes of Metroid. You’ll be sure to see more of these great titles on the DS, but the games that utilize its touch screen features and microphone to their fullest are Wario Ware Touched and Feel the Magic: XY/XX. Both are rumored to be very fun games.
Though the DS poses little challenge to the PSP as a gaming system, it is almost unfair to compare them. It would be like comparing a nifty Vespa scooter to a luxury sedan. First, look at it from the best-deal standpoint. The DS is a pretty good deal, priced at only $150 with the gaming capabilities of a Nintendo 64. The loading time for most games on the DS is so fast as to be nearly nonexistent.
The DS is made just for games and it does a great job with the multiplayer modes as well, allowing multiple players to directly connect with each other. Also, there is a “Picto-chat” feature which allows multiple gamers to connect to chat rooms and send drawings and text to each other directly. One of the best features of the DS is that it is backward compatible, which means it is able to play your old Game Boy Advance games.
The Nintendo DS is simply another addition to the line of Nintendo’s solid quality gaming systems with great titles.
However, not only may the double-screen design be a bit too radical to be fully accepted, I believe that gamers today want more out of their handheld and are turning to the PSP for those extras.