Undeniably, the PlayStation Portable had some very serious issues. The Universal Media Disc (UMD for short) format was terrible, most games suffered from long loading times, the console’s library wasn’t as extensive as its main competitor the Nintendo DS’ and most games were PS2 adaptations. Still, there are many things Sony’s portable console did right and the company should definitely be praised for that. Let’s review some of the reasons why the PSP was ahead of its time:
- Multimedia capabilities
The PSP was one of the first portable consoles to have multimedia capabilities. Although the PSP was a handheld to play games, it also allowed users to transfer their music, photo and video libraries. Unfortunately, doing this wasn’t as easy as it seemed at first sight, but it was definitely possible and many fans of the console took advantage of these features. Nowadays is much more common than smartphones and tablets implement basic functionalities like the ones mentioned here, but when the PSP was launched in 2005 (in North America,) it definitely wasn’t as common. It’s worth pointing out that the PlayStation Vita has all of the aforementioned features and more (like the possibility of using applications) and this wouldn’t have been possible if it wasn’t for the PSP.
- Console-like graphics on the palm of your hand
The PSP was the first handheld to offer a console-like experience. The portable’s graphics closely approximated to PlayStation 2 visuals and at the time that was simply staggering. Now, most users aren’t that interested in playing gorgeous games on the go, as they prefer lighthearted experiences that can take a few minutes of their busy lives. The PS Vita on the other hand, is definitely marketed towards an audience that wants to play “hardcore” titles such as Uncharted: Golden Abyss or Street Fighter X Tekken.
- Downloadable games
Before the PSP was out most people already knew that digital releases were the future. We still know that, but the smooth transition is taking place as you read this and most of the times when buying the latest title we’re given the option of getting games either digitally or physically. And we should partially thank the PSP for that. At first, most titles were only released physically but little by little companies started seeing the benefits of publishing digital versions of games. Eventually, some companies were bold enough to even publish DLC for their titles (Little Big Planet PSP, Rock Band: Unplugged and Disgaea were some of them,) then, the Minis program came out and even entire collection of comic books were released on PSN.
- Emulated versions of PlayStation One classics
Before it was official that original PlayStation One titles could be downloaded from the PlayStation Network, many people were illegally playing them on their PSP’s or their PC’s. Sony was smart enough to offer a legal (and much easier) way of getting all these classic titles for cheap and convenient price (some games are $9.99 and some others are $5.99.) In addition, the control schemes of certain games have been re-tweaked so players can enjoy them without the core experience being affected. Unfortunately, the lack of R2-L2 buttons on the PSP prevented certain games for appearing on PSN (I’m looking at you Tony Hawk, even though I know getting the soundtrack license was probably the real reason why you aren’t on PSN.)
- Games that could have been released on other platforms, but didn’t
I know this sounds weird, but even when we know that titles such as Rock Band: Unplugged, Metal Gear Solid: Peace Walker, Castlevania: Dracula X Chronicles, the Patapon series and Crisis Core Final Fantasy VII could have easily being released for any other major console, they weren’t. They were released for the PSP and they were superb on the portable console. Of course, some worked better than others (it was easier to play Burnout Legends on the go than an overly convoluted RPG experience such as Kingdom Hearts: Birth By Sleep for example.) Now let’s just hope that more similar titles to these keep coming out for the PlayStation Vita.
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