While Nintendo may have run into some difficulties recently in manufacturing consoles that connect with the mainstream (the Nintendo 64 and the Gamecube are notable examples), one area where Nintendo has maintained its dominance is in the arena of portable gaming. The reign started innocuously with the release of the Game Boy, a platform known more for its archaic graphics than for its library of games. Despite this disadvantage, the Game Boy became known for a strong and varied library of software and for introducing gamers to new and familiar franchises. Super Mario
Land, Tetris, and Pokemon
are some of the titles that have made a home on Nintendo’s original handheld.
Nintendo has since released various iterations of its original Game Boy design. These offshoots are: the Game Boy Pocket, Game Boy Color, and the Game Boy Advance. They are notable for improving on the design of the original Game Boy, but also for introducing innovations that would come to crystallize portable gaming; for instance, the Game Boy Pocket trimmed down the size of the original product, while the Game Boy Color introduced color to the Game Boy. The introduction of color was seen as one of the key elements missing in Nintendo’s handheld systems; it was an idea already introduced in rival portable products such as Sega’s Game Gear.
Even though Nintendo was slow to introduce color to its portable products, its handheld systems were about to outlast their rivals by focusing on a singular factor: a wide variety of quality games. Fast forward to the present; Nintendo releases the DS, a dual-screened portable system that boasts touch-screen and microphone functionality, as well as the ability to play games from the Game Boy Advance library. While these additions are great, people often shun the DS and focus on the Sony PSP (Playstation Portable) for its graphics and media capabilities. Individuals in gaming outlets ask me whether or not a PSP is better than a DS.
To answer this question, I am going to outline to you ten reasons why you should NOT get a Sony PSP.
10. The overall quality of games for the system is at best, questionable. The PSP may be home to some stand out titles (Burnout Legends, Mega Man Powered Up, and Hot Shots Golf) yet they are few and far between. The majority of other games for the system consist of questionable products like Untold Legends, Tokobot, and Splinter Cell: Essentials. While these titles may have some redeeming quality, they pale in comparison to the line-up of the DS, which can not only claim original titles such as Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney, Trauma Center: Under the Knife, and Animal Crossing: Wild World. Interestingly, if you venture Gamespot.com and observe the scores for DS and PSP games, PSP titles more often than not score in the 6-7 range while DS titles consistently score higher. That factor seriously raises questions about the quality of PSP software.
9. Speaking of games, it should not surprise you that the majority of ‘standout’ titles on the system are ports of games that you have already experienced on consoles. Burnout Legends was recognized by gaming sites everywhere as one of the system’s best games. Yet, when you scrutinize the title, you find that it is merely a combination of Burnout 1, 2, and 3, with some Burnout: Revenge thrown in. The same goes for games such as NBA Balers: Rebound, which is merely a port of the original NBA Balers on Play station 2, with some ‘mini-games’ added. While the DS is also guilty of releasing ‘ports’ on its system, it is often easier to name a DS title that did not descend from a console than a PSP title that did the same.
The DS can claim ‘Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney’ and ‘Trauma Center: Under the Knife’ as its original properties, while the PSP is having difficulty in that area. Even when titles are ported over to the DS from other systems, they are often calibrated to exercise the DS’s ‘auxiliary functions. For instance, when Mega Man Battle Network 5 was ported over the DS from the Game Boy Advance, Capcom used the separate screen for map functionality and used the touch screen to implement Mega Man’s attacks. These functions would only be possible on the DS, making it seem more like revolution, compared to the PSP, which is merely an evolution.
8. The DS knows what it can and can’t do; the PSP does too much, and fails as a result. When individuals observe the DS and PSP systems side by side, they are likely to comment on how the PSP is meant as a ‘multimedia entertainment center’ while quickly dismissing the DS as a ‘game machine.’ This strategy has actually worked to Nintendo’s advantage; it can focus on creating games and building an established fan-base, leaving Sony confused with having to appeal to the gaming and entertainment. Their initial attempt at this, the UMD (Universal Media Disc) has met with mixed expectations. While game sales are somewhat solid, UMD movies have proven themselves as an unsuccessful experiment.
7. The design of the PSP lends itself to failure. While observers balked at the DS’s dual-screens, they have since had to accept the notion that the gimmick has been used fairly creatively. The dual-screens have been used in styles such as checking game statuses, maps, extended viewing areas, and even switching between the screens on occasion. By comparison, the PSP has not always used its design in the best possible way. This is most often seen for three-dimensional action games on the system. While the basic actions are intact, the PSP is horrendous when it comes to camera control, which in turn ruins what could have been a promising game. As for the DS, while it does release 3D games on occasion, it knows where its strength lies (2D games) and it sticks to it.
6. The PSP is too expensive. This is probably the main reason why more individuals do not own one. The PSP’s initial launch price was more than two hundred dollars, about as much as much as a console system. Adding to that was the fact that in order to take full advantage of the system’s capabilities, you would have to spend money on memory sticks, wi-fi attachments, UMD movies, and other unnecessary items. By comparison, all you need to worry about with the DS is wi-fi, and maybe the purchase of other periphery items. The DS does not need to burden itself with other ‘multimedia’ items that the PSP has to. Simplicity is the key in making a portable system, and it is this simplicity that makes the DS a better system.
5. The PSP is not the most durable portable system available. If one were to become careless and drop it, it would be extremely difficult to replace it, due to the fact that the screen is located in plain view. As for the DS, I have seen it be able to withstand countless falls, scrapes, crushes, etc.
4. The PSP claims that it can play music and movies, which sounds like a worthwhile investment, yet there are already cheaper opportunities if you desire a portable music and movie player. Apple’s various Ipods have already proven themselves to be multimedia centers that offer more functionality than the PSP, and are at competitive prices. Other companies are now competing with Apple to see who can deliver the best media player. It all translates to a section of the market that Sony can’t necessarily count on ensnaring.
3. Is the PSP really a portable system? While it may appear to be one in terms of size, it is actually quite difficult to transport one in your pocket, due to the aforementioned screen. Taking a PSP on the road is also a chore due to the notion that it lacks durability and can break in any unforeseen instance. The DS, on the other hand, is made for portability, especially the newly released DS Lite, which combines the PDA styling of the original DS with a slimmer size and shape.
2. Good luck using the PSP’s battery. Having owned one when I first became interested in portables, I found out that I could only achieve about three hours of gaming with it. Now that I am the proud owner of a DS, I have realized that I could get twice as much time out of it in terms of gameplay. In short, the PSP’s battery does not last long enough for a system that is expected to move mountains.
1. Finally, looking past the questionable games, dubious tech, and expensive pricing, my main reason for showing disdain towards the Playstation portable is Sony itself. When the system was announced, Sony promised that it would make the Nintendo DS look like a toy. Fast forward a year and it is obvious to many which system has become more successful in terms of sale and software. For me, it’s a shame since I still own the same original PS2 that I bought my sophomore year of college, at that time, Sony delivered on its promise for the PS2 to become a multimedia entertainment center. Sadly, that is not the case with the Playstation portable.
So there are my reasons why you should not purchase a PSP. If you have one, enjoy it, you may get more use of it than I did, but if you are on the fence, I would advise you to approach with caution.