The next generation in portables

Big news! Sony have announced the PSP2 is in development! But then we already knew that since for months, information has leaked about its existence and features. Today, or last night in America, Sony held a press conference in Tokyo to officially reveal their successor to the ill-fated PSP and the rumours where right; Wifi and 3G connectivity, dual analog stick, OLED touchscreen, tilt controls, touch sensitive back, flash memory for games and two cameras – one on the front and the other on the back of a machine larger than its competition. For now, Sony are calling it the NGP or Next Generation Portable which fits amply with their marketing techniques of latter years. Remember when the PS3 was launching and they said the next generation doesn’t start until they say so? It’s a similar deal with the PSP2 whose specs are sounding like a considerable leap into the next generation. Sony are claiming it’s capable of producing PS3 quality games and before attendees at the conference could scoff at such claims, they showed it doing just that. Hideo Kojima proudly displayed Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of the Patriots which used direct art assets from the PS3 game and looked almost as good. Backwards compatibility is included so original PSP and PS1 games are via download (probably have to buy them again then) and a whole host of Sony franchises will also be headed to the portable. Such as:

Uncharted
LittleBigPlanet
Resistance
Killzone
WipeOut
Hustle Kings
Hot Shot Golf

With third party support from the likes of Konami, Activision and Capcom including:

Metal Gear Solid 4
Lost Planet
Yakuza 4
Call Of Duty

The next generation in portables? Where have we heard that before? The Nintendo 3DS. So who will win, who’ll be the next king of portables? Nintendo, Sony? From the type of games shown by both parties it looks like they’re again going after different audiences with some overlap to keep things interesting. Nintendo still have the family gamer in their sights with more hardcore titles backing up those aimed at a wider market. With the Street Fighter IV and Resident Evil there remains Nintendogs + Cats and Pilotwings Resort. Deals with movie studios have so far been focused on family film though of course, other 3D-centric flicks will no doubt be coming.

From the list of games revealed by Sony, the PSP2 looks to be, like its predecessor, all about the traditional gamer with experiences potentially found on home consoles. That may not have worked too well for the original PSP but then the PSP2 has something gamers have been begging for; a second analog stick. With it, titles won’t only look like those on the PS3 but play like them too. I can’t see the touchscreen being used for a great deal of things when the way you hold the PSP2 seems designed for two hands either side of it but its inclusion means nothing gets left out of the second PSP and all options are open to developers.

What is a little troubling is the way games appear to be distributed. It sounds like they’ll be download only with Sony saying “NGP adopts a new game medium, a small flash memory based card, dedicated for NGP software titles. Taking advantage of the flash memory feature, this innovative card can store the full software titles plus add-on game content or the game save data directly on to the card.” The concern is what kind of marketplace this would create. Less deals and no preowned games is good news for publishers but not so much for the consumer. Who knows, we could be surprised yet and nothing has been confirmed on that side so no need to worry. Early reports are suggesting a battery life of around five hours max (as they are with the 3DS) but no price or date has been mentioned other than Winter in Japan. It’s great to see a handheld like this with such promise and one that looks to offer something different and complimentary to the others. Colour me interested!

UPDATE: More reports are coming in about the ‘new memory card’ feature of the NGP which suggests it’ll be more like the DS with cards sold in stores. The PlayStation Store will of course be present but hopefully won’t be the only way to obtain titles.

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One thought on “The next generation in portables

  1. Pingback: The affordability of next generation handhelds « Back For Two Seconds

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