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Review: Uncharted: Golden Abyss

Feb 13 // Dale North
[Review Note: We used the Japanese release of Uncharted: Golden Abyss for this review. This release features the same English voices and text that we'll see in the domestic release. If any features change upon domestic release, we'll update this review.]  Uncharted: Golden Abyss (PlayStation Vita)Developer: Sony Bend StudiosPublisher: Sony Computer EntertainmentReleased: February 22, 2012MSRP: $49.99 For those following the series, Uncharted: Golden Abyss is a prequel story, though it doesn't seem to establish much in the way of backstory. Nathan Drake may have a few less cuts and bruises in this game, but he's basically the same protagonist you've come to know and love. The rest of the cast is new, save for an old friend that series fans will immediately recognize. This old friend may have less gray hair, but he still has the same terrible shirts and jokes.  Golden Abyss has Drake working for a somewhat shady old friend named Jason Dante. He reports for duty as a historical expert for Dante in the deep forests of Central America. During their work they meet Marisa Chase, the granddaughter of a famous archaeologist. Chase is looking for her grandfather, who has gone missing during his an expedition. The group gets mixed up with a retired general from the region that is on the hunt for treasure. It seems that everyone is looking for the same ruins, but for different reasons. The story is great, and there's some really nice plot twists and lore to be enjoyed and explored. Golden Abyss may not have quite the character depth that Naughty Dog pumped into previous series games' characters, but that not to say that the characters are bad in any way. You'll still totally hate the bad guys, sympathize with the heroine, and laugh heartily at Drake's snarky interjections. No corners were cut as far as the characters are concerned, mind you. It's just that, while good, they're not quite to the impossibly high level that Naughty Dog has set with previous games. That said, the voice acting is exactly on par with what you've experienced with the console games. Nolan North is at his best, wisecracking like a champ as Drake. Voice actress Christine Lakin also does a fine job as Marisa Chase and when Drake and his old friend meet up in the second half of the game, the wisecracks come non-stop. In the latter half of the game there's a hilarious run of "...that's what she said" jokes between the pair. I think that most players will be surprised at how much dialogue is in this game. Everything is fully voiced, making you wonder how they fit it all on that tiny little Vita cartridge. Drake has learned several new tricks with this first portable outing. The various new input controls of the Vita are all used in Golden Abyss, making the game a perfect showcase for the system. And while just about all of the touch and motion controls are optional, they're implemented so well that I'm sure most players will end up using them and enjoying them.  The front touch screen and back touch panel are used extensively. Basic commands, like picking up items and weapons, can now be done by simply touching them on the screen. This way you won't have to walk over to it and hit a button. Flinging grenades is a joy now, as you literally flick them in the direction you want them to go with the front screen. Fist fighting also uses the touch screen, and it's much better than you'd think, with swipey cinematic attacks and dodges mixing up the standard punching and kicking. I love that the sniper rifle's zoom can be controlled by either a slider on the front screen, or by running a finger up and down across the back touch panel. The touch control even extends to exploration. You can jump from ledge to ledge with buttons and the analog stick, just as you always have, or you can simply touch a ledge to have Drake jump to it. In fact, he will follow a line you've traced across the screen with your finger to do things like move across ledges and over or under obstacles. Again, the touch controls in these cases are totally optional, but they're pretty slick, and trying them once will likely sell you on them. My favorite new addition to Uncharted's control is the motion control-enabled aiming assist. You'll still use the right analog stick to aim your weapons, but the Vita's motion sensors let you tilt the system to fine tune your aim. While larger gestures let you move the reticle from enemy to enemy, I used it more for correcting my aim, and quickly fell in love with the feature. Being able to tilt to fine tune aim is so intuitive that I don't know how I ever lived without it. The only touch control that is not optional is found in the game's cutscenes. You'll swipe your way through fist fights and narrow escapes. These "quick time events" start out as pretty standard, but get really creative toward the end. I don't want to spoil any of the situations, so just know that you'll be furiously swiping in all directions as quick as you can, gritting your teeth all the while. It seems like Bend had a lot of fun putting these events together, and I'm sure you will, too.  Sure, there's a lot of new tricks with this outing, but the game's core is classic Uncharted. This means you'll get more of that perfect mix of tense platforming and climbing and epic gunfights, all presented with cinematic flair. The first time things get hairy and you find yourself hanging from a rope with shooters firing from above and snipers aiming from below, you'll feel right at home. There's no way the game's creators could have been more true to Uncharted's gameplay. They nailed it. I'm glad to say that series fans will also feel right at home with the controls. The exemplary dual joysticks of the Vita do a lot to blur that line between portable and home console. There's absolutely no learning curve here for anyone that has played any of the previous games. Nothing is lost in translation. The Uncharted series has always incorporated puzzles, and you'll find plenty in Golden Abyss. In fact, I'd bet there are more puzzle-like instances in this latest title than in any of the other ones. While enjoyable, the majority of them are pretty shallow, and rely on the the front and rear touch panels. Your hands will be all over the screen doing things like making charcoal rubbings of ancient carvings, or rubbing dirt and/or rust off artifacts to uncover clues. The game's makers are absolutely unapologetic in their excitement for rubbing things, so much so that their studio logo is presented with a charcoal rub graphics.  There are a few other more interesting types of touch puzzles in the mix. You'll have to use your fingers to spin combination locks to gain access to treasures, and re-assembling ripped up maps, posters and other papers is pretty fun, though you'll do it so often that you'll wonder why so many things are ripped up in the forests of Central America. Fortunately, these iPhone game-like diversions give way to some really neat puzzles near the end of the game. These are more like your classic puzzles from treasure hunting games, and they're all pretty enjoyable.  Fans of item hunting will be glad to hear that Golden Abyss has more hidden items, treasures and other artifacts to find than any other of the series titles. Maybe too many! I found that I was almost tripping over collectable gems and coins during the adventure, and found a few more by accident. It's almost unbelievable how many findable items are in this game. Drake's in-game journal contains several pages of empty "slots" for all of these items, and it's a bit daunting going through them. I'd dare say that only the most hardcore will even attempt to collect them all, and that they'll probably need multiple playthroughs to do so. As an amateur photographer I really enjoyed the new camera-based quests in Golden Abyss. Drake is free to bring up his camera at any time to shoot any of the game's lovely scenery to be kept in his journal, but there are also several requested pictures to collect. You're given examples to try to match with your own photos, and the game grades you on them, with collection requiring a 100 percent match. Photography uses the Vita's tilt function to aim and the rear touchscreen to zoom.  Uncharted: Golden Abyss is a beautiful game. From a visual standpoint, it's quite easily the most impressive portable game I've seen. So much of the polished presentation and cinematic style of the PS3 games can be found in this Vita title, which is especially impressive when you consider that this is a launch title. Seeing is believing, as online footage and screenshots do this game no justice. Bend's outstanding work on this game makes it easy to forget that you're playing a portable game. At announcement, Sony kept saying that the Vita is capable of PS3-like experiences, and Golden Abyss serves as proof. The Uncharted series is known for its beautiful backdrops, and Golden Abyss is no exception. While treasure hunting adventure games all have similar settings, Bend cranked the pretty up to 11 in this one. Some of the texture art is positively eye-popping; I found myself doing double takes many times in my first playthrough. Lush, green forests give way to sun-drenched temple ruins in the game's first hours. Beyond that explore vast underground caves that lead to gaming eye candy that's so dazzling that I'd hate to ruin it for you. You'll see everything from dumpy lean-tos to impossibly scenic waterfalls on your journey, wondering how the game system isn't overheating from rendering them. This game is also lovely in motion. The same high quality motion capture you enjoyed in the console games is present in Golden Abyss. Even moving water is stunningly realistic in this game. And despite some reports, I never experienced any kind of slow down or stuttering. Golden Abyss ran smoothly from beginning to end for me. Talk about coming out strong! From launch day Sony has a flagship title and a potential system seller with Uncharted: Golden Abyss -- it's that good. It's everything you'd expect from an Uncharted title as a graphical powerhouse, and it serves as a technical showcase for Sony's newest hardware. It does such a good job of taking advantage of all of Vita's capabilities. It's as if Sony knew that this had to be amazing, and then spared no expense to make it so. As far as single-player gaming goes, franchise fans will not be disappointed with the series' first portable game. Though smaller, Golden Abyss is still the deep, varied and highly entertaining adventure they've come to expect, with almost nothing lost in the move. And with more than 30 game chapters and about 12 hours of gameplay, this is a full Uncharted experience. There's no multiplayer, though, so some followers of the series may miss that.  With Uncharted: Golden Abyss we have the first must-buy for Sony's PlayStation Vita. It takes the series' much-loved gameplay, storytelling and presentation, and adds on innovative touch and tilt features to make a game that fits perfectly alongside its predecessors. Prepare to be amazed by a portable videogame.
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You may have had enough of hanging from glowing ledges, jumping from crumbling floors and narrow escapes from massive explosions, but I can't get enough of the adventures of "Dude Raider" Nathan Drake. I loved all of the PS3 ...

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For those wondering if PlayStation Vita owners in the US will get a discounted price for purchasing the digital releases of their games as compared to boxed retail copies (as in Japan), it looks as though that may indeed be t...

Man up! Pac-Man and Mega Man in Street Fighter X Tekken

Jan 26 // Jonathan Holmes
Pac-Man and Mega Man are clearly meant to represent Namco and Capcom and their efforts to come together to create Street Fighter X Tekken. Pac-Man, riding a giant version of Tekken's Mokujin, represents Namco's current philosophy towards working to simultaneously appeal to fans of their classic arcade days (with titles like Galaga Legions and Pac-Man Championship Edition DX) and fans of their more modern offerings (like Tekken and Katamari) at the same time. Bad Box Art Mega Man does something else entirely. The character is old and out of shape. His costume has clearly taken a beating over the years. It shows multiple signs of damage (just look at that messed up helmet!). This is a man who has been through a lot. He's seen better days. That's not going to stop him though. Despite being a bit long in the tooth, he's still clearly trying to win over the beauty-and-youth obsessed Western market, just as he did on the box of the original Mega Man when it was first released in the United States. Man, he's not going to have an easy time of that, is he? Not with that face. Not with those clothes. He has all the makings of a failure: a fat, funny looking goofball desperately trying to look cool in the eyes of American teenagers, and failing hard at that goal. Yet, there is a fire in his eyes that makes him a charmer. He's got the spirit and the determination that only comes from having true passion for your work. He may be making an ass of himself, but he's a genuine ass, and that's to be respected. How could he not be genuine? Nobody looks, acts, and dresses like that because they think it's going to help them get ahead in life. If you look like Bad Box Art Mega Man, it's because you want to look that way for you. In short, Bad Box Art Mega Man is legit. People may make fun of him for not being as cool and sexy as Western super heroes and Japanese anime characters, but he isn't going to let that stop him from giving it everything he's got in his efforts to win both our hearts, and the Street Fighter X Tekken tournament.  If that's not the best representation of modern day Capcom, I don't know what is. Kudos to Capcom for making such an unexpected and interesting creative decision by using this version of Mega Man to represent them in what may be one of their biggest games of 2012. They could have gone the safe, predictable route and just included the standard "Mega Man" in this game, the one who is proven to be a crowd-pleaser, the one who has already appeared in multiple crossover titles. Instead, they went ahead and did something that not only has me wanting to shake their hands, but play the crap out of their game. Mega Man and Poison are definitely going to be my mains. Great job, Capcom. You've made at least one Mega Man fan very happy this day.
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Previously hinted at company mascots Pac-Man and Mega Man have been confirmed as PS3/PSV exclusive characters for Street Fighter X Tekken, joining Cole from inFamous, and Sony Japan mascots Toro and Kuro. Unless the 360 vers...

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While the PlayStation Vita will support PSP games, it does not have a UMD drive. For this reason Sony came up with their UMD Passport program. Through this, you'll be able to register UMD games to get a discounted digital cop...

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We kind of thought that the Vita would be region-free, and at E3 we heard some positive news, but now we know for sure. According to 1UP, Sony Computer Entertainment's president of Worldwide Studios, Shuhei Yoshida confirmed ...

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Zone of the Enders is coming back in glorious HD format! Both Zone of the Enders games are being remastered in HD and is hitting the PlayStation 3 AND Xbox 360. Zone of the Enders will be out in 2012. As for the Metal Gear So...

PlayStation Store is back with a stampede of updates

Jun 02 // Hamza CTZ Aziz
PSN & PSP games: Alien Crush - $5.99 (PSN, PSP) Bonk's Adventure - $5.99  (PSN, PSP) Wizardry: Labyrinth Of Lost Souls - $14.99 (PSN) Sega Rally Online Arcade - $9.99 (PSN) Star Raiders -  $9.99 (PSN) Red Johnson’s Chronicles  - $12.99 (PSN) Under Siege -  $19.99 (PSN) Back To The Future: The Game – Episode 3 - Free With Season Pass (PSN) Dragon’s Lair II: Time Warp - $9.99 (PSN) Bomberman ’94 - $5.99 (PSN) Learning With The Pooyoos – Episode 1 - $8.99 (PSN) Lego Pirates Of The Caribbean - $29.99 (PSP) Lego Star Wars III: The Clone Wars - $29.99 (PSP) PSone Classics: Missile Command - $5.99 PSP minis: Star Hammer Tactics - $1.99 Best Of Solitaire - $4.99 Block Cascade Fusion - $1.49 Sky Force - $4.99 Card Shark - $1.49 Days Of Thunder - $4.99 Top Gun - $4.99
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Good news: The PlayStation Store is back online in North America! Bad news: There's so much new content that was put out all at once that it's simply overwhelming. Not saying it's bad news for the consumer, but it's just a sh...

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We're a week out from E3, but that doesn't mean the rumors have to stop just yet. According to a supposed E3 fact sheet, Sony's PSP successor, codenamed NGP, is going to be known as the PS Vita.  Yes, it sounds like some...

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We already told you a bit about Sony's upcoming PSP Remaster ports for PS3 in our Monster Hunter Portable 3rd news item, but we wanted to pass along a few more details on this series of games. Remasters will be PSP titles cus...

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Sony Computer Entertainment has just come out and said it: it thinks it's possible that all of your private data may have been obtained. In a recent PlayStation Blog update, Sony says that while its "still investigating the d...

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Back when the PSPgo came out it felt like I was the only one excited about it. It was small and sexy. It sold...some. At $250 for what really was a lesser game system that what it was supposed to stand in for, the PSPgo was a...

Counterpoint: Why Sony's PSP2 (NGP) will succeed

Feb 08 // Josh Tolentino
I'm going to start by saying that I will be the last person to call the PSP (or its intentions) a "failure." I don't believe that selling less than the DS automatically branded Sony the "loser" in this perceived race. I'm no business person. I don't have access to all the numbers, and as such I can't say whether Sony made enough off the PSP to write it off for themselves. What I can say, however, is that current estimates place the PSP's numbers at somewhere around sixty million. And currently, the PSP has been leading sales charts in Japan, and is on track to becoming the fifth best-selling platform of all time. That includes the numbers for the homebound "HD" consoles. Clearly, they're doing something right. That said, the PSP definitely has its faults, ones that ultimately undermine its ability to back up Sony's promises of taking the home console experience on the go. Most notable is the lack of that second analog stick, something integral to "big boy" gameplay of all kinds since the days of the first PlayStation. There's no denying that the PSP does provide some great, deep experiences, but most of them are hamstrung, leading most players to just wish they were sitting in a couch, staring at a big screen with two sticks at thumbpoint. Obviously, the NGP solves that particular issue. It's got proper analog sticks, and two of them to boot. But where does that leave us? Didn't the weaker, more "creative" DS prove that "concept-driven" (read: gimmicky) games triumph over ones that attempt to port "traditional" homebound gameplay? Why isn't Sony realizing that and instead producing a cheap-and-cheerful machine that does that kind of stuff, stuff that a PS3 or an Xbox 360 can't do? That's where the sea change comes in. What change am I talking about, you ask? I'm talking about the fact that gimmicky games are everywhere now. Now any platform, be it plugged in at home or on batteries in your hand, can employ a creative trick to support unique, special little games. We can actually thank the Wii and DS for that. Nintendo blazed the trail, and everyone else followed. Kinect for Xbox 360 and PlayStation Move would likely have never seen the light of day had the Wii Remote not started the trend. Put plainly, every platform is (generally speaking) now capable of the same level of gimmickry and concept-driven design as the DS and Wii. They've joined the party. That's not all, though. High-end games are more expensive to make than ever. About the last thing most publishers and developers want is for Sony and Microsoft (and Nintendo, eventually) to announce the PlayStation 4 or Xbox 720 or...whatever Nintendo decides to call its next money-printer. Even the platform holders themselves know this, and have been working feverishly to extend the lifespan of this generation. From diversifying development opportunities (read: new gimmicks for devs to play with) to beefing up their own collections of cheap-and-cheerful downloadable games, there's never been a better time for gamers to find something that can do anything or everything. That's where the NGP comes in. From a hardware perspective (and in theory), it really is a "do anything and everything" machine. Not only does it pack in every gimmick the DSi ever had (and more), it's got the controls and power to deliver a home console experience. Those demos of developers happily demonstrating their HD graphics engines running smoothly on the NGP are far more significant than you might realize, because now I can pull out an NGP and expect to play both "big boy" games (like Killzone) and quirky, gimmicky experiences (like Little Deviants or the inevitable Angry Birds iteration). All while I'm mobile. In retrospect, even the PSP could do that, hampered as it was. Games like Patapon and LocoRoco proved that the system could do more than ape its heavier, power-hungry cousins. And even then, the millions of people who buy Monster Hunter or the many lengthy JRPGs that made their home on the handheld prove that there is a market out there that wants a console-sized experience on the go, something that the current generation of smartphones and slate computers can't do for lack of "proper" console accoutrements. Now, with the front and rear touch screens, tilt sensors, cameras, and a level of online integration that in some ways even exceeds the capabilities of the PS3, so much more is possible. What about 3D, then? The 3DS can do that, and the NGP can't. That's true, but to be perfectly honest, I don't see 3D, glasses-free or not, being as important to new, innovative design. The 3DS simply isn't as much of a game-changer as the DS was. Take away the 3D (and tilt sensor), and the 3DS is basically a more powerful DS. In fact, I'm of the opinion that we're actually reaching the limits of what the basic DS setup can do in terms of new design opportunities, and I doubt the addition of 3D or a single analog thingamabob (that I still won't be able to play a proper shooter with) will push the envelope that much. I'd love to be proven wrong, though, and Nintendo has a history of doing that. Of course, this comes down to what developers actually do with the tech at their disposal. It always does, no matter the platform. The NGP might be perfectly capable of getting me some sweet time with Lost Planet 2, but in that case, it would be up to Capcom to make it work right. Then again, with that second stick it'd be way easier, yeah? And of course, there's the price. Sony hasn't announced one yet, and in all likelihood that versatility and power will come at an appropriately hefty cost. But then again, as I mentioned, I don't measure the NGP's success based on whether or not it will surpass the 3DS. For that matter, given the tech, the NGP could measure up to an iPad, which, fully loaded, costs significantly more than even the wildest NGP price point expectations. And Sony can likely guarantee that the NGP will be able to provide more in terms of hardcore gaming than Apple's glass behemoth. It's true, Sony has once again bet on hardware. But this time it didn't just put everything down on power. It's thrown some chips in with flexibility, too. Everyone else has, for that matter, because no one can afford not to. Now, what the NGP has that's unique is, in fact, the extra power. It can do all the weird, quirky things that the other handhelds can, but when you're bored or have some time, you can throw in a proper hardcore game. With the NGP, Sony's managed to (theoretically) straddle that space between concept and convention, and that's how it will succeed.
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[Note: We’re not just a (rad) news site -- we also publish opinions/editorials from our community & employees like this one, though be aware that they may not jibe with the opinions of Destructoid as a whole, or ...

Why Sony's PSP2 (NGP) will fail

Feb 07 // Samit Sarkar
As a company, Sony is adept at building sleek devices laden with bleeding-edge technology. But they have proven themselves less skilled at selling the mass market on those high-tech gadgets, especially in the gaming space since the last console generation. Of course, those issues are related: filling gaming devices with the latest and greatest tech ensures that they will be prohibitively expensive at launch and for many months thereafter, which, in turn, limits the potential market to technolust-afflicted early adopters. That was how the early years of the original PlayStation Portable and PlayStation 3 played out, which is to be expected when you price your hardware at $249 and $499/$599, respectively. Nintendo -- with both the DS and Wii -- provided the right mix of relatively cheap hardware with a gimmick and software with mass-market appeal. It remains to be seen whether the gimmick of glasses-free 3D will be enough to draw customers to the 3DS, especially in light of its $249 price tag and weak software lineup at launch. Still, I see a greater sales potential right now for the 3DS than for the NGP -- even at $249, $50 more than the Wii -- because the 3DS and Wii offer completely different experiences. Is it possible, even likely, that we’ll see spin-offs of Wii games on the 3DS? Sure, but they’ll still have to be designed specifically for the portable hardware. On the other hand, Sony is once again producing a high-powered handheld with the ostensible goal of replicating console games as closely as possible. Pack the power of a PS3 in your pocket, Sony whispers in your ear (where “PS2” stood in place of “PS3” at the launch of the PSP). That seems appealing -- at least, it appears tremendously impressive from a gosh-how-did-they-do-that standpoint. But upon closer inspection, the enthralling allure of “console-quality” graphics on a portable device gives way to a host of concerns, each more distressing than the last. Sony is touting the NGP as a handheld device capable of “console-quality” games. At PlayStation Meeting 2011, a cavalcade of publishers pledged their support for the NGP, trotting out their heavy-hitting console IPs: Uncharted, Lost Planet, Yakuza, Call of Duty. Sony presumably brought those companies on stage in the hopes that their presence would instill confidence in the NGP (since the PSP has always suffered from a lack of third-party support), and would impress the millions of fans of those franchises. Hideo Kojima came out and showed a cutscene from Metal Gear Solid 4 rendered natively on the NGP, running at 20 frames per second, as if to say, “Look at what this baby can do!” Were you impressed? I wasn’t. Sorry, but the prospect of console-quality games on a handheld doesn’t really excite me. If I want a console-quality experience, well, I’ll just play a console game, thankyouverymuch. Big-budget console titles are designed to immerse you within their finely crafted environments, and on the PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360, an HDTV and surround sound go a long way toward that end. If I’m playing something like Uncharted or Killzone, I want to be sitting in front of a big-screen TV so I can really be drawn into the world, not hunched over and squinting at a five-inch screen while I’m on the subway. The idea that playing that kind of game on a small screen can resemble the console experience is almost as absurd as thinking you can truly experience a film on your “fucking telephone.” Yet many of the publisher representatives who presented games at the NGP unveiling seemed delighted by the ease with which they were able to produce NGP ports of PS3 engines. I don’t see much appeal in playing a console game that a developer has ported to a portable (because, again, I’d simply prefer to play it on a console, even if the NGP’s second analog stick makes console-to-portable ports more feasible). I’d much rather play games that have been built from the ground up for the NGP. Consider that the very best Wii games have been exclusives; they were developed with the unique characteristics of the console in mind. The same applies for any gaming system, but it is doubly true for distinctive devices like the 3DS and NGP. I expect to eventually see a handful of great non-ported, NGP-exclusive games like Little Deviants -- especially since the hardware offers a diverse array of inputs (e.g., rear touchpad, two cameras) -- but Sony’s initial emphasis on reproducing the graphical horsepower of console games is worrisome. Another argument against console-type experiences on a handheld device is the current state of the handheld gaming market, which has undergone a transformation since the PSP first launched six years ago. That sea change is, of course, the intrusion of smartphones. The future is obviously trending toward convergence -- toward a world where we carry around one pocket-size gadget that serves as a mobile phone, music and game player, and Web access device. I think there’s still a place for dedicated portable gaming systems -- at least for now -- since most of the games currently available on iOS and Android simply aren’t as deep or fulfilling as the experiences that devices such as the DS and PSP offer. But it seems to me that the market is trending toward convergence on the hardware side, and on the software side toward games that are designed to be played in bite-size chunks. The way in which people play portable games is already changing; more and more, the games that achieve success on the level of phenomena like Angry Birds or Brain Age can be experienced a few stages or puzzles at a time -- five minutes while standing in line at Chipotle, ten minutes while waiting for the bus. What was the last console game you played in that manner? I don’t know about you, but I completed Uncharted 2 in a few multiple-hour sittings. Those games just aren’t meant to be enjoyed like that, and if they’re going to work on the NGP, their developers will have to rework them completely. But if you ask me, it’s a moot point. I think that smartphone gaming will eventually grow to encompass the kinds of extensive portable experiences that currently exist only on the DS and PSP, in addition to today’s slate of mostly pithy games, which will pave the way for next-generation smartphones to make dedicated mobile gaming devices obsolete as the consumer desire for convergence skyrockets. The early-adopter types who are considering an NGP purchase probably already own smartphones, which are fairly expensive devices that are the current pinnacle of portable convergence. Whatever Sony ends up charging for the NGP -- and let’s face it, with all that wizardry under the hood, it’ll be a surprise if it comes in at less than $349 -- will you be willing to pay the price for something that is, at best, a (large) secondary portable device that you have to lug around in addition to your smartphone? Especially when many of the games aren’t meant to be played on the go? Sony is a hardware company first and foremost, and the NGP looks to be a beautifully designed handheld. The PSP was also a good-looking device -- and at the time, it contained all the bells and whistles a technophile could have wanted -- but it was hamstrung by its software: as if its game library weren’t enough of an issue, its endless stream of firmware updates frustrated users. On that note, Sony’s announcement of PlayStation Suite seems like a sensible contingency plan if the NGP doesn’t work out. I don’t expect the NGP to succeed, because it’s apparent that Sony hasn’t learned a vital lesson from the tough competition that the PSP and PS3 faced: a device may tick off every box on a gadget hound’s wish list, but that alone doesn’t make it future-proof.“NGP” may only be a codename at this point, but there’s really no more accurate name for the system than “PSP2.” It is very much a successor to the PSP, which boasted of being able to reproduce the console experience on portable hardware. The NGP is an evolution of the PSP -- Sony clearly believes that doubling down on raw power is the way to go. They might as well come out and say it.
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[Editor’s note: We’re not just a (rad) news site -- we also publish opinions/editorials from our community & employees like this one, though be aware that they may not jibe with the opinions of Destructoid as ...

Destructoid discusses Codename: NGP, the PSP successor

Jan 27 // Jim Sterling
Nick Chester: Yeah. So... about that new PlayStation handheld?  Jim Sterling: Hooboy, it sure is handheld! Matthew Razak: That fancy Portable Next Generation is pretty big. Does it remind anyone else of a Game Gear? Chester: I don't know what it reminds me of, because I'm still trying to wade through all of the bullshit buzzwords Sony dropped in its press release on the thing. Seriously, it was just a bunch of nonsense. Also, call me when Sony announces that there will be two or three models, and the least expensive of them will cost $400. And they'll try to convince us that's a good deal.  Conrad Zimmerman: I expect it'll have the same battery life as the Game Gear. With the quad-core processor draining shit, people aren't going to be able to use all of those newfangled wireless capabilities for very long. Sterling: It's cool, and if they did a proper Killzone FPS on it, I'd spunk up. But Sony burned me several times with the first PSP so I am going to go into this very warily.  Right now, it's the PlayStation Suite that I'm most excited for. Sony content on my Android? Yes plz! Zimmerman: Yeah, that's what I've been saying is going to be the real coup of this event. The behemoth that is Sony finally lumbering into the mobile space not only with hardware but a platform-agnostic software framework? That's the story that will have far greater impact than the PSP2. Chester: If you expect any of that shit to run properly on your device, you're out of your mind. Also, good luck playing any PS1 game with a touch screen. Sterling: "Rawr rawr I'm Nick Chester!" That's my impression of you in this discussion, Nick Chester. Chester: Whatever. You have to be realistic. It looks impressive, but so did the PSP when it was announced six years ago or whatever. And look where that landed us. It's clear there's a lot of high end tech in this thing, but what does that mean for games outside of "Hey, it's a PS3 in your hand!" That's great, but coming from someone who plays his handhelds on his couch or in bed... who cares? If you want a new Killzone, you've got it -- it's on your TV. I know how much you travel and commute, Jim: you don't. Why do you care?  This thing is also going to cost a million dollars, and we all know it. Sony can't reasonably price hardware. On the Android thing -- seriously, let's get real here. The hardware wasn't designed for games. I have what's considered a "high end" Android phone with the EVO 4G, and the motherfucker CHUGS when I'm playing Fruit Ninja sometimes. FRUIT NINJA. Sterling: I'm fucking around, Nick. I actually agree with you on a lot of points. Even when I do commute, I usually listen to music more than I play games. But I do like handheld games, so I don't know what's up there.  In any case, I am tentatively eager to see what this thing can do, but I am definitely staying realistic. The PSPgo and PlayStation Move killed my faith in Sony products, at least from an early adoption standpoint. I don't want to drop another several hundred dollars on something that won't be supported, or have a terrible infrastructure. I'm adopting a wait-and-see approach, but I don't want to be bratty and dump on what does look like a cool bit of tech. As far as PS Suite goes, I'm still waiting to see. I am excited about that. I understand touch screens aren't great for traditional games, but some notable innovations have come from it. Gameloft have made games work on the iOS that I would've thought impossible, so we'll see. Sure, controls will be compromised, but I anticipate that at least a few Suite games will work surprisingly well. Jonathan Holmes: That's why I think the PS Phone (or Xpedia, or whatever it's called) will be a lot of fun. Good controls on phone games. I wanted that. That might be my first smart phone. Razak: I feel like Sony is making the exact same mistakes it made with the PS3 and PSP here. Over powered, but nothing that catches people's attention. It'll sit on shelves much the same way, I fear.However, the Suite and Phone could mean big things. I could see those taking off much faster as long as they work. Sterling: Oh yeah Matt, I agree there. What we have with the 3DS vs. NGP is almost an exact rehash of the DS vs. PSP battle. The technically inferior system at a cheap price with a quirky, attention-grabbing gimmick versus raw, expensive power. With the mass market, cheap n' quirky beats expensive and powerful. That's one area where Sony is totally out of touch. It doesn't take an analyst to predict that the 3DS will trounce the NGP. Chester: My biggest issue with the PS Suite stuff is simply hardware. I'd say that a large percentage of Android phones out there can't even handle some of the games and content being pushed out there right now. Look at the release of Trendy's Dungeon Defenders, the Unreal Engine-powered game -- most folks are having trouble playing that on their hardware because it wasn't designed to support something that powerful. I can't play it on my EVO, and I haven't even tried because of the poor comments from EVO users the game has been getting. I don't expect most phones on the market right now to be able to play PS One games, and I put myself in that camp of users. Holmes: So wait, the NGP has a "rear" touch pad? Am I missing something here?Isn't that like having your ass where your face should be? Chester: See, I didn't even know that, that's how bogged down with specs and features this thing is. It's like everything and the kitchen sink was put into this handheld, and it's just completely overwhelming to the point where I can't seem to care. WTF am I going to do with a rear touch pad? Sterling: Rub your dick against it while playing. Zimmerman: The rear touchpad thing has been in the rumors since there were rumors. It's so you can operate the touchpad without blocking your screen, or something.  Sounds awkward to me, but I can see possible applications. Holmes: They should have just copied the DS feature-for-feature, but improved on them. Sony has never had good original ideas hardware and interface-wise, but they are awesome at taking other people's ideas and making the better. Razak: People aren't going to "get" the rear touch-pad either. I mean, gamers will, but you run out to the general public and go look at this cool rear touch pad and they're going to look at you quizzically and then start tapping their stylus on their 3DS some more. It feels to me like the kind of tech that's cool and innovative, but no one picks up on because it just doesn't catch. It could also suck very easily for many, many reasons. Zimmerman: But, like I was saying the other day, I don't know that the processing capability is going to be as much of a concern as time goes on. 4G is some pretty fast shit, though it needs standardization. With the rate at which mobile broadband is improving, combined with cloud computing, I don't think it's unrealistic to expect a service like OnLive could become a distribution venue for more powerful mobile game. PS Suite therefore allows Sony to lay the groundwork for a long-term strategy in mobile gaming. If it works as a platform-agnostic system and allows Sony to develop for any of the platforms, that's highly valuable and could pull the rug out from under everybody in the end. Sterling: Regarding the touchpad, it seems more for showing off than for anything practical. I *am* a gamer and I don't get it. I don't know if my brain will comprehend anything more complicated than "rub the back of the system randomly to make stuff happen." Anything more complicated and I don't think I'll be able to retain it.  Not to mention, it's a handheld -- my hands are back there, holding the system up. I hope that won't screw a game up. Chester: I'm firmly in the camp that over the next ten years, we'll be playing everything from the cloud, OnLive or Gaikai style. But that has nothing to do with Sony's current Android offerings, which rely on hardware. Whether it lays the foundation for Sony's future plans in the space remains to be seen, but PS Suite as it stands doesn't do anything for me, because I'm positive my hardware won't play nice with it. Colette Bennett: I don't care what it does. I'm not paying $400 for a portable gaming device no matter what. Josh Tolentino: I'm with Colette in that I won't pay $400, but if I heard the event correctly, didn't they say that NGP would be backwards-compatible with the downloadable PSP games?  I know a lot of you don't care about the PSP's software lineup, but that's good news to me. The PSP has some amazing games, and if I can have at least some level of access to those at some point, it's big plus for me. Bennett: That is a plus for me too -- I like the PSP library a lot, esp RPGs....but I don't need a portable PS3 with shitty battery life, cause I already own a PS3 that I can plug in =/ Razak: The power of the PS3 bragging point does absolutely nothing for me, nor will it for most consumers who pick up a portable gaming system to have quick fun. I play my DS and PSP as serious gaming systems, but the entire design around this seems to ignore the fact that most people don't. Then again, if they're hoping to corner some iPad market with the larger screen and more social networking then maybe that could work. However, the marketing would have to go in a completely different direction to hook in that crowd. Holmes: Josh, I like Backwards compatibility too, but I own a crap load of UMDs. No UMD compatibility means no real backwards compatibility, at least for me. I'm sure that the Japanese audience will be thinking the same thing. UMDs sell by the truckloads there. I'm not so sure they huge Japanese PSP audience is going to be too keen on dropping their huge library of UMD games just to jump ship to the NGP. In a way, I think it all depends on who gets the first new portable Monster Hunter. If it's the 3DS, then the NGP is screwed in Japan, at least initially. If it's the NGP, they'll probably do alright. My bet is on the 3DS though. I don't see 3rd parties supporting the NGP right away, largely due to development costs. That's just me guessing that the NGP game development will cost like PS3/360 games, and not Wii/PSP/3DS games. Chester: I agree -- the fact that it can push PlayStation 3 visuals or whatever is impressive, and in action I'm sure I'll appreciate it, but that's not something that factors in for me when playing portable games. If Plants vs. Zombies were rendered using the Unreal Engine and looked as impressive technically as Infinity Blade, I don't think that would change how I felt about the game. If I'm going to have to sacrifice things like my hard-earned dollars, battery life, and load times -- things that are really important to me in portable games -- then I'm not interested in a portable PS3.  Also on that note, if simply having that kind of power just means folks are going to try to make console experiences on a handheld, that's disappointing. I'm interested in playing a new Uncharted adventure, regardless of what platform its on, this is true. But if it's just a game that tries to mimic the look and feel of its console big brothers on a handheld, I'd much prefer to be playing that game sitting on my couch. Tolentino: Price point concerns aside, I like to look at the PSP platform from the perspective of your average Japanese Monster Hunter player, even if it's not necessarily relevant to what I do every day as a person with near-constant access to a powerful gaming PC and PS3. That's important because Monster Hunter and their ilk are basically what saved the platform years ago and continue to prop it up today. So what does the NGP have to offer the Monster Hunter player? It offers the Monster Hunter player the promise that they can play the next Monster Hunter game and feel like they're not missing out on what the game might be if it were on a home console. Basically, what I see is a handheld that, gets handheld gaming out of its technological ghetto. We're always talking about the whole graphical arms race and how gamers are too obsessed with it, and one of the results of that obsession is a disregard of handheld games because of their technical inferiority, like the way a lot of people dismissed Valkyria Chronicles II because it was on the PSP, and couldn't handle the beautiful art style. With the NGP we're closer than ever to being able to emulate a home console gameplay experience in a handheld. True, that was kind of the supposed situation with the PSP way back when, but with the extra analog stick, the (apparently) better integrated online stuff, and so on, the transition is closer to 1:1 than it was then. So to offer a point on Jonathan's that who-gets-the-first-Monster-Hunter-game-idea, I would much rather play a Monster Hunter game where I can control the camera with the right stick. Wait, does the 3DS have a right stick? Oops. And as for doing something different, who knows what they can do with those touchpads. I imagine with some (not inconsiderable) reworking, a game with the 3DS gimmick (sans 3D) could be made to work with the NGP. It's all up in the air for me at this point. Holmes: No, you're right Josh, the 3DS doesn't have a right stick. Monster Hunter would definitely control better on the NGP. That said, my bet is still on the next Monster Hunter coming to the 3DS, for the 3D, for the nearly-guaranteed massive global install base, and because I'm guessing 3DS games will be cheaper to develop for. To speak to Nick and Matt's points, the 3DS is looking to offer something different than just "a home console experience in your hand", while the NGP that seems to be exactly what the NGP is going for. I know that personally, I want to own them both, but I'm not guessing most people will feel that way. Chester: What I got from what you just said, Josh, is that it comes down to games. And that's very true, to a point. It comes down to games like Monster Hunter in Japan, for sure. The PSP had a lot of great software for gamers like yourself, like Colette, like Dale... it was a very RPG, Japanese-centric platform, and that's great. Not great for me, and not great for North American gamers (which is maybe why it never truly seemed to take off in the states). It's going to come down to software, but not only that, it's going to come down to unique software. At least for me.  The the idea of Call of Duty on a handheld really isn't doing anything for me, honestly. But let's think about something that might... a portable Team Ico game. That sounds great, right? But what about this particular game is going to make me want to play it on a portable, over something like the PS3? Is it just going to be Shadow of the Colossus on a portable? People would go nuts over that idea, but when you stop and think about it, what's the point?  Right now, it's too early to say what developers have in store for this thing. I feel like I'm too hung up on the thing's power and its specs -- Sony is pushing that a lot. It's the "arms race," like you said, Josh. Sony always gets into this game, coming out of the gate with untouchable hardware that it hopes will wow everyone into throwing dollars their way. It's easy to get excited about what a platform CAN do, and this NGP certainly looks capable of doing everything other portables can do and maybe even better. But what it comes down to, for me, is what it WILL do. Bennett: I just don't think gamers that want the cutting edge of what's new in games want to play it on a small screen, no matter how big said screen may be for its size. I think they'd rather play that game on a big screen. Maybe I am wrong, I don't know, but I think of my handheld gaming experiences and my console ones in completely different terms. Julio Capote: Our image server seems to have gone down, it's back up now. Chester: I can't believe we hijacked a tech issue thread with game discussion. Bennett: I can.
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In the dead of night, Sony lifted the lid on the long-awaited PSP successor, a system codenamed Next Generation Portable. In addition to this, it also revealed a cross-platform mobile gaming service, the PlayStation Suite.&nb...

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Sony showed a lot of both hardware and software at today's PlayStation Meeting 2011. So what games do we know of for the device? Live demonstrations of Uncharted and Hot Shots Golf were performed at the event, as we...

Sony announces PSP2, codenamed NGP (Updated)

Jan 27 // Samit Sarkar
The screen can distinguish actions such as "touch, grab, trace, push, and pull." According to the developers (both first- and third-party) who showcased their wares at the press conference, the "NGP environment is very flexible and very easy to develop for," and apparently, "On NGP, we can enjoy the same quality as PS3." In fact, Hideo Kojima came out on stage to show an in-engine cutscene from Metal Gear Solid 4 rendered natively on the NGP, running at 20 fps. Other games demoed at the event include: an Uncharted title with touch-screen interaction; a Hot Shots Golf game where the NGP's motion-sensing tech provided first-person golfing; Yakuza; Monster Hunter; Dynasty Warriors; and Epic Games' Dungeon Defenders, which is currently available on Android. NGP games won't come on discs -- they'll actually be sold on flash-memory cartridges that will hold the games themselves, as well as save games and add-on content. There's no word yet on battery life, and that's disconcerting -- how much juice could a device with this much gadgetry under the hood possibly have? Sony's NGP will be out starting this holiday season (presumably, that refers to Japan); there was no mention of a price. We'll update this post with more info as we get it. So what do you guys think: is this something you might be interested in? How much do you think it'll cost? Does it pretty much kill your anticipation for the Xperia Play (PlayStation Phone)? Hit the comments!
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[Update: Sony has posted photos and hardware specifications of the NGP here. The CPU is a quad-core ARM Cortex-A9 processor, and here's the size of the unit: 7.17" (width) × 3.29" (height) × 0.73" (depth). You can...

PlayStation Phone leak details specs, PS Pocket software

Jan 07 // Nick Chester
Branded as part of Sony Ericsson's "Xperia" series, the device is powered by a Qualcomm Adreno 205 GPU, along with a 1GHZ Snapdragon processor. Tech nerds will want to know that its being benchmarked at an already impressive 59.1fps, which could improve as hardware and software is finalized. Other key notes about the alleged hardware: 1,5000mAh battery 854 x 480 resolution on a 4-inch LCD 5 megapixel autofocus camera, LED flash 512MB RAM, 512MB ROM microSD slot SIM slot micro-USB A second microphone for active noise cancellation These new leaks also confirm "PlayStation Pocket" software, although it's unclear what the application will be used for. The easy conclusion to jump to would be games, but what kind of games? PlayStation Portable titles, PSP Minis, or a completely new line-up of software? Given the system's specs, it seems it should be able to play current PSP titles with ease, although the lack of an analog nub could cause compatibility issues.  As details on this "PlayStation Phone" come to light, is it looking like something that would make you ditch your current mobile device? Sony's PlayStation Phone gets in-depth preview in China, PlayStation Pocket in tow [Engadget]
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It's increasingly looking like Sony Ericsson's Android-powered "PlayStation Phone" is legit, despite the firm not revealing the device at this week's Consumer Electronics Show. Why bother, though, when random folks from Chin...

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Here it is! The big finale! The climactic closing to our two part awards show special (in case you missed it, here's part one). In this episode we have even more special guest stars, including game developers, game character...

Live blog: Spike Video Game Awards 2010

Dec 11 // Nick Chester
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[Update: The awards are over -- you can find a full list of winners, as well as the evening's premiere's right here.] Spike's Video Game Awards will air tonight, starting at 8:00 PM Eastern. You can watch it on Spike TV, or y...

The PSP2: What We Want

Dec 08 // Jim Sterling
To be able to switch on the PSP and play a game within the hour: If the PSP is to be believed, nobody has yet discovered technology that allows us to switch on a games device and play games on it without having to take an entire day off work, but we really hope Sony cracks it with the PSP2. Experience with the PSP has taught us that if you want to play a game, you need to reschedule your week. Here's a nice example of what happened to me when I had a hankering for Killzone: Liberation ... I found my PSPgo buried in my closet after months without use. The PSPgo battery was completely drained because I hadn't turned it on. The PSP wouldn't charge from the USB because it was drained. I went back to the closet to dig out the wall socket plug that came with the PSPgo because using an older PSP power chord was too convenient. I plugged the PSPgo in and turned it on, heading straight to the PlayStation Store. Firmware update required.  Downloaded firmware. Attempted to install firmware. Informed the PSPgo had not sufficiently charged.  Waited. Watched some Christian evangelical television, which so far was more amusing and entertaining than my PSP experience that day.  Firmware installed, PSN accessed, PSN cash card used.  PSN cash card expired. PSN cash card expired. PSN cash card worked on the third attempt.  Server timeout. PS Store closed down. Reconnected to the Internet, opened PlayStation Store again. Started to download Killzone: Liberation.  Five hours after first digging my PSPgo from the closet, it was ready.  Played a chapter. Got bored with the idea of the PSP. Played on the iPod.  If Sony could develop technology, possibly using science, in order to cut this process down to an hour, or at most two hours, then I think we've be living in a grand new era.  To have it made properly the first time around: When a videogame ships with technical errors, it can be patched for the cost of an Internet connection. It's not cool and it encourages sloppy development, but at least there is a free recourse. When a game system is shipped with technical errors, it can be patched ... but you have to buy a whole new iteration of the console to get it.  The original PSP-1000 shipped with dead pixels, broken UMD trays, and an inordinate amount of dust that kept getting under the screen and was impossible to remove without the whole thing being taken apart. It would be utterly fantastic if Sony would design the PSP2 properly the first time around, rather than issuing the hardware equivalent of a $300 patch once per year.  To have a digital distribution method that isn't fucking insulting: The release of the PSPgo made it appear, at first, as if Sony was getting serious about offering a competitive digital download solution. Unfortunately, that turned out to be a load of old wank because Sony made no efforts to commit to it. Digital versions of retail games were offered at full retail price, and were sometimes even more expensive than the likes of Amazon could offer physical copies. At one point, Amazon was selling the limited edition of Persona Portable, with fancy packaging and extra content, for less than the PlayStation Store was selling an unadorned digital copy. It was a fucking joke and a slap in the face to anybody who embraced digital content.  Oh, and lest we forget that many new releases went up on the PS Store a week late, or sometimes even longer. In the case of a few, they never went up at all! This is before we get to PSP Minis, Sony's answer to mobile gaming applications. It was crap. It is crap. Games that were available on iTunes for peanuts were popping up on the PlayStation Store at inflated prices that completely failed to compete. Tetris, for example, launched at $10 on the PSP Minis channel, despite the exact same game selling for half the price on iTunes. Pathetic.  Sony itself did nothing to help the situation, passing the buck onto developers and saying it was their choice. Then we found out it was because developers needed to submit PSP Minis to the ESRB and Sony had nothing in place to help cover those costs. Sony, by absolving itself of all responsibility, condemned its own service to obscurity and pointlessness. Smooth move.  So yeah, maybe the PSP2 can do something that isn't that.  To boast a competent online experience: Wi-fi has evolved since 2005, when the PSP-1000 first launched. You wouldn't believe it if you picked up a PSPgo though, which is still slower than a shitting snail and only half as stable. Many people download PSP games on their PS3s and then transfer them over because it's faster than using the PSP itself. Gamers shouldn't be introducing extra steps for themselves because it's more convenient than trying to do everything in one place.  Using the PSP to browse the Internet is pretty awful as well. What was once billed as the "Walkman of the 21st century" really isn't all that useful for much. My iPod Touch is fast, efficient, and gets the job done when I want to check my emails without stepping into the office. Simply thinking about using the PSP to do that makes me want to scoop my eyes out and shove them up my urethra.  If the PSP2 would like to be a useful, competent handheld device that competes with other portable entertainment systems, a fast Wi-fi capability that doesn't time out if you sneeze would be a must. Let's have a system that doesn't have to re-connect every time you close the browser, that doesn't take forever to load or download, and is actually enjoyable to take online. Do you think you could manage that, guys? To not have it feel like it's made out of glass: The Nintendo DS is durable and protected by its clamshell design. It's a system you feel could survive getting dropped a couple times. In fact, I'm going to go out on a limb and claim that it's a system designed to survive in a portable environment. Imagine that! The PSP, with its exposed screen, intricate design, flimsy case and focus on style over durability is not designed to survive in a portable environment. Scratches, scuffs and downright breakages haunt the PSP at every turn. Its weak buttons and thin, shiny surfaces require one to treat it like a baby with brittle bone disease. It looks absolutely gorgeous, I'll grant you that. But looks don't count for much if you can't survive outside of a comfy bedroom full of soft, fluffy pillows.  The PSP2 should be designed as a system you can actually take out of the house. It's crazy I know, but when I hear the word "portable" I don't just think "small." I believe portable means something that can be carried around safely and conveniently, not just something that fits in my pocket. Not that I'd dare keep a current PSP in my pocket. I'd be afraid of the fabric scratching it to shit.  To have some real software support: Yes, we all know, the PSP has plenty of good games. It really does. In fact, Sony itself put out some really good titles this past year. But remember ... the PSP launched in 2005. When you spread the PSP's library over half a decade, it looks far less impressive. In fact, as stated above, my PSP sat in a closet for months. When I turned it on, there was a saved game state for Valhalla Knights 2. That's the last time I picked the bloody thing up.  The PSP2 needs to have some real publisher support, not just a decent game from Square Enix or Konami every couple of months. For some reason, developers aren't keen to put games on an expensive system that doesn't shift a lot of software and is plagued by piracy. Hopefully Sony can make the PSP2 more appealing for developers, in a way that doesn't boil down to, "Release loads of firmware updates that don't solve the problem."  Right now, the 3DS has a ton of support before release and that's what is making it appealing, far more than its analog nub, improved graphics and 3D shtick. Software is still important to this industry, and Sony forgot that with the first PSP. Maybe work on releasing more games this time around, rather than releasing a new PSP SKU every damn year.  To not have it built and marketed by a bunch of shitting chimps: The PSP is a fantastic piece of technology. Unfortunately, it's fantastic technology that was put together and subsequently marketed by a group of apes who had no idea how to deal with the handheld market. Maybe the PSP2 can make portable media fun and fast to utilize, maybe it can be a flexible system that doesn't offer inferior methods of enjoying music, movies and games. The PSP has the tools to be a superior portable entertainment system, but those tools are being used by idiots. Get someone who understands the portable market behind the steering wheel and the PSP2 will be amazing.  The PSP2 could also stand to have some intelligent PR people working for it. No more schizophrenic advertising where the PSP is for adults one day, teenagers another day and kids the following week. That kind of bullshit doesn't inspire consumer confidence. Sony gives the impression that it doesn't know who the PSP is for, so why should a customer feel it's something they want? The PSP2 needs to pick a demographic and stick to it. Trying to appeal to everyone when you can't appeal to anyone doesn't work.  Oh, and no Marcus. DO. NOT. USE. MARCUS to advertise the PSP2. He's a fucking cunt and nobody likes him. Stop putting him in commercials.  No PSP2go: Ever. Ever ever ever. 
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Sony is terrible at keeping secrets. Killzone 3, Resistance 3, the PS3 Slim, the PSPgo, Sony has no end of cats to let out of its bag, and rare is the time we are ever surprised. The PSP2 looks set to continue this trend, wit...

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A new study claims that while iPhone and mobile gaming is on the rise, DS and PSP games are treading water, and the water's getting rather putrid. This is all according to Interpret, who states that market data is signalling ...

More evidence of PlayStation Phone in video form (Update)

Dec 03 // Samit Sarkar
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In case there remained a sliver of doubt in your mind that the purported "PlayStation Phone" actually exists, a two-minute video showing off the phone has appeared on YouTube. (No, your speakers aren't broken; the video has ...

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Those of you with PSPs have doubtless heard of Lord of Arcana by now. It's Square Enix's latest PSP endeavor, taking the form of a hack n' slash RPG with four-player co-op. Until now, however, you may not have had a clue as ...

Final Fantasy: Dissidia getting sequel, Dissidia Duodecim

Sep 09 // Josh Tolentino
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And before you ask, "duodecim" is "twelve" in Latin. Scans from ever-leaky Japanese game magazines confirm that at least two new characters will be making it into the lineup: Final Fantasy IV's Kain and (unsurprisingly) Final...

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Today marks the fifteenth anniversary of the original PlayStation's launch in North America. The little grey system was an absolute phenomenon when it launched in 1995, arguably the first system to take a step toward mak...

Review: Valkyria Chronicles II

Aug 31 // Dale North
Valkyria Chronicles II (PSP)Developer: SEGAPublisher: SEGARelease date: August 31, 2010MSRP: $39.99 Valkyria Chronicles II picks up right where the first game left off. Kind of. You play as Avan Hardins, a super-enthusiastic guy (we're talking crazy gung-ho here) and a new freshman at the Lanseal Royal Military Academy. But while his enthusiasm is appreciated, it doesn't get Avan very far in the academy's entrance exams, and he finds himself in Class G, the "loser" class of Lanseal. This sets up the classic underdog school class story that Japan loves to use so much in their games, television shows and stories. As goes the story, Avan works to take the less-than-enthusiastic Class G and shape them up to be real heroes. Beyond this, Avan works to find out what happened to his brother, who was supposedly killed in the war before he enrolled. Avan's enrollment takes place about two years after the events of the first game. While peace has not yet returned to Gallia, the enemy was pushed back, and the country has begun to relax a bit. But now a new threat approaches with a pending civil war, which is being fought over the duchess of Gallia being revealed as a Darcsen -- an unloved race of people. The resistance wants the Darcsen to be pushed out of the country. Avan and Class G find themselves caught in the middle. At the heart of Valkyria Chronicles II is the same strategy game play that made the original PS3 title so great. If you missed it, this innovative adaptation of SRPG play lets you move your troops in a third-person view, in real time. You'll still use an overhead map to make decisions and carry out many orders, but you'll jump into that lovely third-person view when you take control of each individual troop member. In this view you'll position, take cover, and even aim and fire weapons. This formula beautifully mixes strategy and action, and this manages to greatly increase the draw of standard strategy role-playing game play. While the strategy starts out as simple as moving, taking cover, and firing, it slowly escalates into a fairly complex list of variables to keep mindful of. It seems that each of the game's key battles adds a new aspect to your strategy playbook, but it also adds new enemy powers and complications at the same time. This makes for a game that has an addicting level of challenge that never overwhelms, but slowly builds up in you, making you shake your fist at the sky with fire in your eyes, as Avan often does in the game. In perfect complement to the gradually escalating challenge is the steady story progression and character development. You're never bored at Lanseal Academy as there are always new students (and new troops), student drama, and story bits. In between battles you'll have the ability to freely pop around campus, chatting with classmates and visiting locales. These actions slowly unlock more bits of the story, and you're free to trigger them at any time, though some scenes are required to progress to the next key battle. Most of these interactions are presented with nicely animated character portraits, some coming with full voice over work. Most are text based, though, and are only occasionally accented with a fun one-liner. Other key events unfold via top-notch anime cutscenes. Both do a fine job of fleshing out the feeling of campus life, and all are voiced very nicely. Overall, you'll find that this sequel is a bit more lighthearted than its predecessor, but I found that this fits the portable format of the game a bit more. Those that played the first game will be showered with guest appearances in this sequel. While the feel is a bit different when it comes to the overall story, you'll feel right at home with all the old faces you'll run into. That being said, new players should feel free to jump right in, as no prior knowledge is required to enjoy Valkyria Chronicles II. I've been asked several times about the challenge level of this sequel already. Let's just say that the game provides a stiff challenge. It's not snap-your-PSP-in-half hard, but the later key battles will really test your strategies. Overall I'd say that the game is a tad bit less difficult, but maybe requires more out of you as far as pre-battle strategy is concerned. Believe it or not, there's more troop leveling and customization options in this sequel, which requires you to really think about how you'll level and improve your people and gear before you go into battle. To ensure a win, you'll need to spend ample time tending to your troops, gear and vehicles. It's only when you get a feel for how deep the battle system is that you appreciate that this may even be a bigger game than the PS3 predecessor. Oh, and there's an Easy Mode. You could always go that route. Know that you'll take no story hit for the choice. Gone is the watercolor painting look from the battlefield. It's still there in all the cutscenes, animations and character art, but it's just a shadow of what it used to be on the actual battlefield. That's not to say that the battle scenes aren't nice; they really are. It's just that the PS3 game was so lovely that it left you wanting more of its unique look. The replacement here is nice, soft and pleasing to the eyes, but it's not quite what series fans are used to. The rest of the presentation for Valkyria Chronicles II is fantastic. The character art and design is of a very high standard, the voice work is brilliant, and the music is some of the best that has ever graced the PSP's speakers. The game is perfectly polished, and that's apparent in everything from the multitude of options settings to the refined autosave functionality that avoids the stock PSP save menus. This is a portable game with console production values. Valkyria Chronicles II is one of those so-good-you'll-lose-all-track-of-time games. It's a big, shiny, AAA-class game in a tiny little package, and despite its small size it still does a fair bit of justice to the franchise name. A new story, battle improvements, new troops, and a ton of missions are exactly what Valkyria Chronicles fans were asking for. And while they may have not asked for it in a portable package, I don't think they'll mind too much. The good news is that you won't feel that there were any compromises made to make this sequel a PSP game. This is the real deal, folks. Don't miss this game. Score: 9.5 -- Superb (9s are a hallmark of excellence. There may be flaws, but they are negligible and won't cause massive damage to what is a supreme title.)
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Being one that writes about and reviews games for a living, I tend to hear the same kinds of questions from new acquaintances. One of the most common relates to what 'good games' are available for a particular system. Because...

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In attempt to bundle the PlayStation Portable with as many things as possible, as many times as possible, Sony has revealed the Madden 11 PSP Bundle. (Isn't "bundle" a great word?)It's $169.99, and comes with a Black PSP-3000...

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Sony has announced that God of War: Ghost of Sparta, Kratos' next PlayStation Portable adventure, will hit shelves on November 2. Developed by God of War portable veteran Ready at Dawn, the game will fill narrative holes for ...

Rage, 3DS, Dance Central get Best of E3 nods

Jul 06 // Nick Chester
Best of Show Nintendo 3DS
 (Nintendo) Best Original Game Dance Central (Harmonix/MTV Games/Microsoft for Xbox 360) Best Console Game Rage (id Software/Bethesda for PC, PS3 and Xbox 360) Best Handheld Game God of War: Ghost of Sparta (Ready at Dawn/Sony Santa Monica for PSP) Best PC Game Portal 2 (Valve) Best Hardware Nintendo 3DS 
(Nintendo) Best Action Game Rage (id Software/Bethesda for PC, PS3 and Xbox 360) Best Action/Adventure Game Portal 2 (Valve for PC / Mac, PS3 and Xbox 360) Best Role Playing Game Star Wars: The Old Republic (BioWare Austin/LucasArts/EA for PC) Best Fighting Game Marvel vs. Capcom 3: Fate of Two Worlds (Capcom for PS3 and Xbox 360) Best Racing Game Need for Speed Hot Pursuit (Criterion Games/Electronic Arts for PC, PS3 and Xbox 360) Best Sports Game NBA Jam (EA Canada/EA Sports for Wii) Best Strategy Game Civilization V (Firaxis/2K Games for PC) Best Social/Casual Game Rock Band 3 (Harmonix/MTV Games/Electronic Arts for PS3, Xbox 360, and Wii) Best Motion Simulation Game Dance Central (Harmonix/MTV Games/Microsoft for Xbox 360) Best Online Multiplayer Assassin's Creed: Brotherhood (Ubisoft Montreal/Ubisoft for PC, PS3 and Xbox 360) Special Commendation for Graphics Rage (id Software/Bethesda for PC, PS3 and Xbox 360)
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The Game Critics: Best of E3 2010 awards have been determined, and your "Best of Show" winner is… the Nintendo 3DS. Despite only having a handful of playable(ish) software, Nintendo's hardware dazzled the critics (incl...

Review: Persona 3 Portable

Jul 02 // Dale North
Persona 3 Portable (PSP)Developer: AtlusPublisher: AtlusReleased: July 6, 2010MSRP: $39.99 [For full background on Persona 3, we'll point you to our two other reviews of the game, as linked above. This review will focus on the changes and additions unique to the latest version] Cramming one of the best PS2 games onto the PSP was probably enough for series fans and PSP gamers, but Atlus added the option to play as a female character, which gives us a different perspective of the game's world. You're still going to school, balancing homework and extracurricular activities. You're still spending the Dark Hour in maze-like dungeons, slowly climbing the tower named Tartarus. And yes, you're still shooting yourself in the head. But now it's all a bit more fresh, as everything is now seen through a female's eyes. Your interactions with all the key characters of Persona 3 are totally different now. Males that were originally just friends are now potential mates. On the flip side, the girls that were originally objects of your affection are now your closest friends. If you've played Persona 3 as many times as I have, expect to be thrown off track for the first few hours of Persona 3 Portable. Sticking it with pays off, as you find that all new character aspects and even dialogue are revealed with your social interactions with these key characters. Beyond that, you'll find that your other school-based social links are totally new, complete with new character art and story paths. The battle side of the game remains unchanged as far as the challenge goes. You're still working your way up through over one-hundred randomly generated dungeon floors with your party of three, using your demon summoning power of Persona to your advantage. What has changed is that you can now independently control each of the three characters in your party by switching off the AI. This gives you more precise control on how each of your battles go down, letting you get in more key hits on the big boss battles. Other smaller upgrades have also been borrowed from Persona 4, including the ability to guard characters in need in battle. You'll also find that you'll tire less easily now, giving you more time in Tartarus. Thankfully, leaving, saving and returning to your last floor is now quite a bit easier than it was in the original Persona 3, which makes for a slightly less challenging game. But, as anyone who played the first game will tell you, this change also makes it more enjoyable. The social side of the PS2 games takes place on fully roam-able 3D areas. These have been replaced with scrolling 2D maps in the portable version, but you probably won't miss the footwork when you see how convenient the new point-and-click navigation is. You'll only need to point a cursor to your desired travel point or character to move or interact, and new contextual jump menus will beam you to far points you normally would have had to exit and enter to. This change makes for a faster experience, though some will find it a bit less immersive. While I'd recommend that the first-time player check out Persona 3: FES for the full-blown exploratory experience, I'm certain that those that have played P3 before won't miss much. As a sort of trade-off for the loss of exploration on foot, you'll get a lot of nice little additions. One is the new art for all the game's locations. Very sharp, stylized 2D art is the new backdrop for your dates, restaurant visits and after-school activities. This format actually seems to work better for the PSP's screen. Returning players will also enjoy some new character art and dialogue, both of which are uncovered as you explore new social links. You'll be impressed how great Persona 3 Portable looks and sounds on the PSP. Other than the point-and-click navigation, you'll find that this portable version holds up very nicely when compared to the console version. The 3D battles look great in motion, and the 2D character art shines outside of Tartarus. P3P sports an upgraded soundtrack that keeps things fresh for returning players, though I miss the original battle song a bit. Persona 3 Portable has to be one of the best-looking role-playing games on the PSP, even beating out polished, high-budget titles like Crisis Core in my mind. The Atlus/Shin Megami Tensei/Persona fan isn't really looking for my recommendation for this release, so I'll speak to two other groups that I think will benefit from this new portable version. The first is the one-time Persona 3 player that would like to give it another go, but also remembers sitting in front of the television for weeks. Get this version, and you'll blow through it so much faster and likely enjoy it a bit more on-the-go. Another is the poor sap that couldn't find time to finish this 70+ RPG in the first place. Yes, it's every bit as good as you've heard, and this PSP version will make it really easy for you to experience and actually finish some time this summer. We loved it before and we still love it. This title would have sit very high on our recommendation list just as a straight PS2-to-PSP port, but the new additions make it appealing to both the new gamer and the seasoned Persona fan. Looking over our PSP game coverage since its release, Persona 3 Portable is near the top of the heap among all the offerings for the system, and definitely at the very top for role-playing games. Score: 10 -- Flawless Victory (10s are as close to perfect as you will get in a genre or on a platform. Pure, untarnished videogame ecstasy.)
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Of all the times I've played through Persona 3, this latest time was the fastest. Well, there was one time that had a lower total playtime, but I skipped all the dialogue. I couldn't do that this last time as some of the dial...


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