What I want for the PSP2

The PSP is my favorite game system, hands down. Well, actually, hands up. Hands up into my face, as the PSP is always in front of it. But here’s the thing: I don’t love the PSP for its design as much as I do for its offerings and portability. A portable game system with a nice, big screen and strong graphical capability is all I’ve ever wanted, and for me, the PSP was the first to deliver that. This little system gives me all of that, plus the ability to play downloaded games, some of my favorite PS1 titles, and store them all on one memory card. For these reasons I almost always have a PSP on my person, and I know that I’ve played it more than I’ve ever played my PS3, Xbox 360 or Wii.

For a system that I love so much, and carry around so much, there are a few things I dislike about it. I hate the on/off switch placement so much that my face is red in anger just thinking about it. That analog nub is silly, and there really should be a second one. The UMD drive is slow and the battery life just misses the mark. But instead of trying to mentally rebuild the PSP into what I want, I’d rather start thinking about the PSP2. 

There have been plenty of rumors about a second PSP. And I’m not talking about some silly remake or rehash. Please don’t make a PSP-4000, Sony. Let’s forget about the PSPgo and move on. And are you serious with this PSP phone?

No, let’s move on. Here’s what I’m wanting for the PSP2. I hope you’re listening, Sony.

The PSP is my favorite game system, hands down. Well, actually, hands up. Hands up into my face, as the PSP is always in front of it. But here’s the thing: I don’t love the PSP for its design as much as I do for its offerings and portability. A portable game system with a nice, big screen and strong graphical capability is all I’ve ever wanted, and for me, the PSP was the first to deliver that. This little system gives me all of that, plus the ability to play downloaded games, some of my favorite PS1 titles, and store them all on one memory card. For these reasons I almost always have a PSP on my person, and I know that I’ve played it more than I’ve ever played my PS3, Xbox 360 or Wii.

For a system that I love so much, and carry around so much, there are a few things I dislike about it. I hate the on/off switch placement so much that my face is red in anger just thinking about it. That analog nub is silly, and there really should be a second one. The UMD drive is slow and the battery life just misses the mark. But instead of trying to mentally rebuild the PSP into what I want, I’d rather start thinking about the PSP2. 

There have been plenty of rumors about a second PSP. And I’m not talking about some silly remake or rehash. Please don’t make a PSP-4000, Sony. Let’s forget about the PSPgo and move on. And are you serious with this PSP phone?

No, let’s move on. Here’s what I’m wanting for the PSP2. I hope you’re listening, Sony.

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Overall Design

I’m actually not picky on this. I don’t care much what you do, Sony. Get this whole wannabe Apple thing out of your system if you wish. Make it shiny, sleek and silver if you want. I don’t care as long as it remains small and portable, but still manages to have some battery life for all-day gaming. Those conceptual images with the flat slide up screen? Those are beautiful. Actually, just make that.

Control

I don’t think Sony is going to play with the formula too much. They can’t, or it wouldn’t be a PlayStation product. But they need to get that second analog nub on there, and they need to indent them like they did on the Monster Hunter limited edition PSP. The buttons, d-pad and bumpers are already very nice. Just add that second nub.

You had better mover the power switch, Sony. I will not stand for another switch that is placed directly in line with where your hands like when you’re playing the system. Both the standard PSP and the PSPgo have the on/hold switch placed on the lower right edge, which has me switching off the system when the gaming action gets heated. I can’t tell you how many times this has happened. Sony, please go with a standard button like Nintendo did with the DSi.

Finally, there’s rumors of some kind of touch surface, either on the front of the device by the buttons, or around back, where your fingers would land when holding it. While I think this would be great for mouse-like navigation of menus and games, I hope it won’t replace buttons. We don’t need a touch surface. It would be nice, but not as a focus. 

Screen

The rumors are that Sony is going higher-definition with this next system. That’s fine by me. I don’t know if a portable needs a full HD resolution, but I’d like to see us work up to something near 720p resolution. I know a portable can do that now. Apple is doing some very crisp graphics in their devices already. Besides, those that will use their PSP2 for non-gaming functions will appreciate the resolution for movie viewing.

My only concern is that a big, shiny, high res screen and the graphical hardware required to push it is going to chop down battery life. The PSP was never great with battery life, and this could make it worse. 

Graphical Power

I think the PSP is quite good at cranking out pleasing visuals at a good frame rate. Some of the latest games, like Persona 3 Portable and Valkyria Chronicles 2, look just as good as their full console counterparts. While I’d expect that the next PSP system would look even better, I don’t think the jump needs to be that high. Higher resolution games are the norm now, and I think Sony would do fine to just keep up with the Joneses.

Connectivity

The latest revisions of the current PSP hardware have some pretty cool connectivity features that I’d like to see Sony keep and even expand on. First off, the television connectivity is nice. Let’s get that where we’re actually putting out full-screen video, though. Having the option to play PSP games on your television is nice, but no one is going to want to play their games in a little box that doesn’t utilize the full television screen. Fix this. 

One of the coolest new connectivity additions to the PSP line is the PSPgo’s Bluetooth ability. Aside from being able to use Bluetooth audio devices, one of my favorite things to do is to connect a PS3 DualShock3 controller to the system, and then to a television, using it as a very small game console. Again, some of the newer PSP releases look good enough to be console releases, and they’re ideal for TV playing. I hope Sony keeps this ability in their next system.

Media format

This is a tough one. Does Sony move forward and ditch physical media, or do they take care of their customers and support backwards compatibility? I’d hate to be in the position to have to make that call. The smart move would be to move away from media, but what does that mean for those that have a lot of games already? Should they just ditch backwards compatibility for media?

I never loved the UMD format, but it worked well enough over these past several years, and now I have a lot of UMDs. And because Sony never came up with a solution for PSPgo owners, I find that I’d rather take around my PSP-3000 than the much more portable PSPgo. To make matters worse, some games never get a downloadable release, and others come too late. They can’t make this mistake again. Of course, starting off with one format and sticking to it is best. I have a feeling it’s going to be all downloadable, and that’s fine by me. 

If we are working toward a downloadable feature, I hope that Sony can be more open with storage media types. Prices on their Memory Stick Pro Duo and new M2 are very high, especially when compared with the more common SD memory. Let’s hope they take a cue from their other divisions and support more than one type of memory media.

Non-gaming Functionality

I don’t need it. I don’t use it. I don’t want to mess with movies if all formats aren’t going to be playable. And I don’t need another music player. The added ability to play these things on a game system is nice, but I don’t need it. So far the only bit of non-gaming functionality I’ve ever used was to put a picture of my dog in the menu background of my PSPgo.

I’ll admit that Sony has a good thing going with the PlayStation Network. Being able to log onto your PS3 and pull down a new movie is pretty great. If they can translate that experience and functionality to their new portable, I’ll take it. This would also point to a HD screen, and the movies would require very large storage ability. Again, I don’t see myself using it much, but I’ll take it.

Games

And for the most important part, the games. The PSP was slow to build up a library but has since amassed a long list of solid game offerings. The system’s overall library speaks to me as a fan of role-playing and puzzle games, but I feel like there is a bit of something for everyone on the system. It was just never enough, it felt like. Not enough big titles. Also, I’m a big fan of the downloadable PlayStation One games, though Sony still has yet to put any serious energy behind re-releasing the system’s best titles. Overall, if I had to give Sony a grade score based on how they did with the PSP, I’d give them a B-. 

Here’s how to get an A+, Sony. Give us ALL the PSOne downloadable games. Make the entire PSP library downloadable. Bring the blockbusters with the strong 1.5 and third-party connections you have. And with the expected graphical boost, let us download some of that massive library of PS2 games. Beyond all of this, skip the 3D and the gimmicks and give us solid, console-like experiences on the go. 

My plea to Sony

You have an opportunity here, Sony. The PSP did well worldwide, but you and I both know you could have done way more. Please look back at the PSP and see what did and didn’t work. Please listen to the consumer base that actually plays your systems and see what they want. And Please avoid getting hung up on unnecessary gimmicks. Just bring the games on a shiny new portable that cleans up your original concept and I’ll be happy. We’ll be happy.

Dale North