PSP Initial Impressions

Thursday night I managed about an hour and a half of playing time before my PSP’s battery gave up the ghost. I suppose that out of the box, the battery has not been initial charged, so no real reasons for concern. Yet.

First impressions? The screen looks fantastic, and overall I would have to say that the device looks “sexy.” The device is smaller than I figured it would be, but the screen is bigger than I imagined. The screen takes up about 80% of the face of the PSP, with the other 20% divided between the left and right for the various buttons.

After holding the device in my hands for a while, I noticed that while the PSP is not overly heavy, it started to feel rather heavy in my hands, but not heavy enough to be bothersome. The side power and WiFi button/switches also felt awkward rubbing against my hand; almost as if everything else was solid, but these two buttons always felt like I was pressing them into the PSP’s interior.

I do wonder why Sony decided to pack white headphones, and a white plastic strap/holder. I guess that is the iPod effect, but Sony should have stuck with keeping everything black. The initial PSP value bundle also includes a power adapter, a cloth to clean the screen, an overly large instruction manual, a cloth carrying case, a disc that includes some videogame footage, some movie clips, and some music videos. A Spider Man 2 movie is also included. I would have rather paid less because the extras are not really worth anything, especially when you consider that the demo disk is non-interactive.

It was super easy to setup WiFi networking. The PSP found my wireless network with little fuss on my part, and you can store 10 different configurations, which is a huge bonus if you plan to play in different areas (home, the coffee shop, work, etc). I joined several Twisted Metal online games, but most of the time I got booted out due to network issues – not sure if my battery was not charged enough, or if my b-band could just not keep up with the game. I need to investigate further.

As far as the games are concerned, I am happy with my initial selection, but I really need a sports title (FIFA was delayed) and maybe something RPG or hack-and-slash-ish. I have no desire to pick up Sony’s basketball game, and World Tour Soccer has not received favorable reviews (plus the graphics were blurry and washed out on the demo disk). There is always Tiger Woods golf, but I am not going to pay $50 for portable golf.

Some brief impressions follow (maybe 5hrs total time between the games).

  • Lumines: Puzzle Fusion – what a neat little puzzler. Of course there are shades of Tetris, which is true of any puzzle game. The graphics are crisp and pretty, but I am sure this could be done on the Nintendo DS (or pretty close). The gameplay is extremely addictive; you basically rotate squares and try to match up colors before the blocks reach the top of the screen. For puzzle fans, Lumines is easily worth $39.99.
  • Ridge Racer – this one has to be one of the most beautiful games I have every played. It is truly impressive what Namco has done with the PSP version of Ridge Racer. I have a feeling that this game will be the PSP benchmark for the next two years; it looks that good. Of course it would not matter if the game played poorly, but it does not. It is pure Ridge Racer, even if there is some feeling of “been there, done that” because Ridge Racer recycles so many of the tracks from previous PSX games. For fans of arcade racers, Ridge Racer is worth $39.99.
  • Twisted Metal: Head-On – I am a huge fan of the series (well TM1, TM2, and TM:Black), but so far I am not feeling it with this edition. I am not sure if it is just the control setup (I have not looked to see if there are different options), but so far Twisted Metal: Head-On has been some what disappointed. There are plenty of characters/vehicles from the previous games, and there are a lot of levels; fans of the series should feel at home. I guess I need more time with the game, but at this point, I am not willing to say this one is worth the $39.99 I paid.
  • Wipeout Pure – I have not played this one very much yet (Ridge Racer is taking up my racing time), but first impressions are very favorable. The graphics are pretty, the interface feels like Wipeout, and the racing action is spot on.

More to come later, but at this point the PSP is not a dud. The price is somewhat of a concern, as I feel it is priced $50 too high, and getting booted out of my network Twisted Metal games is also a point of contention. Battery life is definitely something to watch; are we really only talking about 4-5 hours? I also think the price of the games are $5-10 too much, but if the replay value is there, I suppose I will get over the sticker shock.

At this point I am impressed with the new shiny. Hopefully the good feelings will continue to last.


One thought on “PSP Initial Impressions”

  1. I’ve heard several others complain about being dropped in Twisted Metal. Either their servers are messed up or the networking code in the game is. Won’t know until other online games are tried out.

    I’ve harped on how few PSP games were online. Unless you’re a student, you’re not going to use the WLAN multiplayer modes at all. Maybe the tools for implementing online support are not mature yet.

    There are supposedly a couple of tunneling software setups for playing PSP games online. Sounds like they might be about as reliable as Twisted Metal is currently.

    I’ve picked a PSP up but no games yet. Nothing that really makes me want to pay $40 or $50 for mostly familiar games.

    I’m put off by the stories of the dead pixels. Target says if I open it, I can’t return or exchange it without a 15% restocking fee even if there are dead pixels.

    Supposedly, according to Gamespot, some Sony customer rep. has promised they will swap it out if you’re not satisfied. But you’d have to ship the unit to them and wait for them to return either a new unit or a refurb.

    So without any games that I feel I have to play, I may just return it unopened. Lumines sounds interesting but a puzzle game should not cost more than $30.

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