With the release of the new PSP Slim (aka PSP-2000), I've taken a serious look at what's available for the system and was pleasantly surprised at what I found.
When the PSP first launched in March of 2005 in the US (has it been over 2 years already!?) it met my interest with a resounding “meh”. While the system looked pretty (and touted a ton of features) there were zero games (my interest in Lumines is recent) that interested me (sounds just like the PS3…). Just look at the launch title list:
1. Ape Escape: On the Loose
2. ATV Offroad Fury: Blazin' Trails
3. Darkstalkers Chronicle: The Chaos Tower
4. Dynasty Warriors
5. FIFA 2005
6. Gretzky NHL
8. Metal Gear Acid
10. MVP Baseball
12. NBA Street Showdown
13. Need for Speed Rivals
14. NFL Street 2 Unleashed
15. Rengoku: Tower of Purgatory
16. Ridge Racer
18. Spider-Man 2
19. Tiger Woods PGA TOUR
20. Tony Hawk's Underground 2 Remix
21. Twisted Metal: Head On
22. Untold Legends: Brotherhood of the Blade
23. Wipeout Pure
24. World Tour Soccer
Just about every game on that list, with few exceptions, is a sequel to a PS2 game or a port of one. Now there is nothing terrible or wrong with that, but there should be at least a few launch titles that stand out from the rest. Even the games that weren’t ports or sequels didn’t even seem the tiniest bit interesting to me. Maybe it’s the genre of the game or the way it was presented, but not a single launch game made me say “damn, I really want to play that.
The same thing could be said for the Nintendo DS. I didn’t get on the DS bandwagon till the DS Lite came out and by then the system had a decent back-catalogue of games to choose from along with some great ones lined up. For whatever reason, the time it took for the “good games” to come out has been much shorter for the DS than the PSP.
That said, after being out for two years the game library is finally starting to fill out with some key titles already out and some being released in the near future. With the PSP Slim release I took a look through the systems catalogue of games (and ones on the horizon) and found the following that actually interest me:
• Brave Story: New Traveler (RPG)
• Mega Man Powered Up (Action/Platformer)
• Daxter (Action/Platformer)
• Lumines (Puzzle)
• LocoRoco (Platformer)
• Ratchet and Clank: Size Matters (Action/Platformer)
• Jeanne D'Arc (Strategy RPG)
• FFVII: Crisis Core (RPG - not released yet)
• Final Fantasy Tactics: The War of The Lions (SRPG - Not Released Yet)
• God of War: Chains of Olympus (Action – Not Released Yet)
Ten games! While that not seem like many, it’s a great start for someone buying a new console (for anyone curious, I have around 10 DS games, so this is a good number for me to make an investment).
So what’s holding me back? Time and money for one. There’s only so much of both, and I have a stack of games I still need to get to for my PS2, ‘Cube, and DS, many of which are RPGs. Another thing is the hardware itself. The system has notoriously slow load times for a portable system due to its use of UMD discs. This really puts a damper on the idea of the “pick up and play” aspect of portable gaming. I understand that the system is basically a PS2 in your hands and that the PSP Slim has helped alleviate this some, but when load times are, supposedly, getting into the 30-second mark, that is a little ridiculous.
Coupled with the load times is the systems poor battery life; the battery lasts, depending on how you use your system, from 3-5 hours (for comparison the DS gets about 15 on a charge). In all honesty, this isn’t as big a deal as the load times is, but being able to play a game for an entire trip on one charge would be a great thing and it’s something I think about every time I see a PSP on the shelf.
Really, though, its all about the game selection, which I previously pointed out, is much better than it was even 6 months ago. With the release of Crisis Core in Japan, the PSP Slim has sold over 500,000 units in such a short time – about a week. This can only be a good thing for the system. With the Japanese install base growing it may convince game developers to create more games for the system (like SquareEnix, Level-5, etc). Things should be looking up in the PSP game department with each success the system has.
So where do I stand? The system has some minor issues, that’s for sure, but there are a bunch of games I want to play for, so the question comes down to is “Do the games outweigh the consoles drawbacks?” I’m still on the fence, to be perfectly honest. Even with the new PSP Slim bundles (two hundred bucks grabs you a new slim console, game, movie, and memory stick – a good deal considering the original PSP was two hundred dollars by itself) that are coming out and a growing list of games I want, I am still hesitant to drop the money on it. Maybe its because of my current financial situation or the constant negative image the system has that is keeping my from purchasing, I’m not sure. Hell, it could even be that I just want to get through the stack of games I have before I drop 10 games onto it. Regardless, the PSP Slim is definitely something on my radar and I do look forward to getting my hands on one at some point in the near future.