Tag Archive | "PSP"

The Playstation Network Goes Portable

Sony’s Playstation Network is considered by many to be superior to its only competitor, Xbox Live. The free service, availability of plenty of content and the sheer fact that it transcends the base console (the Playstation 3) are all major reasons to support it. Speaking of transcending, the PSN is accessible to the PS3 as well as through regular web browsers and of course, the Playstation Portable.

At this point, a little clarification is needed. Since the introduction of the PSP’s web browser (starting with version 2.0 of the PSP firmware), there has already been access for the PSP on Sony’s official network. This was launched in 2005. The service known as the Playstation Network would be launched a full year later –at which point, going to the Sony official page through the PSP would link directly to the PSN. By 2008, the 5.00 firmware update would provide PSP owners with a new PSN XMB icon which allowed them to get online on the network instantly. This same update also allowed users to register Playstation accounts for the device itself.

For the most part, most of PSN’s regular services are available for the PSP. This includes obtaining the latest news from the official Playstation blog, being able to check the latest trailers and gameplay videos for upcoming games, get new themes and wallpapers for the PSP and of course, access downloadable content such as PSP Minis, full PS games and add-ons for existing titles.

The big thing missing from the PSP’s PSN network is the ability to keep track of trophies –which is more due to the fact that PSP games do not come with trophies (it has been confirmed that the upcoming NGP will have trophy support ), and also, being able to track PSN friends.

Unlike the PS3 version of the PSN, the PSP does not have a feature similar to the PS Home. Originally, a 3D avatar-based software for the PSP was being developed under the name of PSP Room (which used the infinity symbol for the double “o”). This project got past the initial development stages and reached up to beta testing. However, due to issues that Sony has chosen to keep secret, the game was canceled.

Recently, Sony has opened up Playstation Plus options for users who want to get a little extra value from the PSN Store. Subscription based special access privileges are granted to users who pay an extra monthly fee. These include free content such PSP Minis, PSone Classics and expansion packs for existing games. Aside from all the free stuff, players also get special discounted rates on many items as well as access to exclusive content (media, wallpapers and in some rare cases, Plus-only DLC content for certain first party titles).

For the average PSP gamer, having access to the PSN is a godsend. It provides plenty of great content at no cost, and delivers information and free stuff right at your fingertips; making it the perfect way to catch up with all things Sony, gaming and portable.

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Portable Packing: What You Need When You Bring Your PSP

The point of having a portable handheld gaming machine is so that you can move around with it. Bring it out during those long hours of waiting, and be able to send it back to your bag instantly without having to worry. This also means being able to bring your favorite games with you without having to carry a bag full of boxes, in this and many other concerns, the PSP is a great system to have. And here is a quick list of things you will want to have when you travel.

First off, a protective casing; manufacturer Capdase has a large library of solid and soft cases for the PSP’s many variants. The best ones come with their own carry cases as well. Look for a carry case that suits your style (for those with special colored PSP units, a transparent case works best), and ensures that the screen is well protected.

Speaking of screens, invest in a good screen protector. These days, this is as easy as buying a screen protector for an iPhone 4 or an iPad, simply reduce the size with a cutter and a ruler so that it fits your PSP screen. The best thing about these screen protectors is that they are meant for touch screen devices which mean that they are fingerprint resistant. Since this goes directly on top of your screen, it works as a permanent protective layer.

A good microfiber cloth is always recommended. These are small and easy to store so having them around will not be an issue. Best of all, you can easily wipe the screen without worrying about making the typical scratches that from rough cloth and other fabrics.

Speakers are a definite must have, especially if you will be out in noisy locations. The official PSP speakers are simple comfortable earphones with excellent sound quality so there is no need to buy a new one if you are short on budget. But if you really want to get geared up, try some Sennheiser or Audio Technica branded ones for impressive audio quality. For those who want to go for style, Skullcandy has a host of impressive looks to choose from. Sony also has earphone -attached control dock for music fans which is a must-have for those who will be using the PSP as a music player (it also serves as a mini extension cable as well).

For those who spend a lot of time outside (or play games that are heavy battery users), a second battery is definitely recommended. The default PSP battery is small and lightweight to having a second one in your bag should not be a hassle. For those who really spend a lot of time away from home, bring along your charger as well. It should be noted that owners of the PSP-2000 and later models have the option of charging through a mini-USB cable too. There is an official car charger that is available for gamers with access to a vehicle.

Gamers will definitely want to bring their games and thankfully, UMDs are designed to be carried around. Thanks to the non-removable casing, there is very little risk of scratching UMDs; just be sure to avoid touching the exposed area of the disc. Those with plenty of downloaded PSN games (or lots of media) will want to invest in a second memory stick to help make file management a lot easier.

Lastly, bring a small bag! Lugging around the PSP openly could potentially damage the device’s screen if it gets bumped around a lot. A small secure bag with protective padding should do well for handling your PSP and any accessories and games you decide to bring along.

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Gear to Go: A Quick Look at Sony’s Playstation Portable

A little over 5 years ago, Sony Computer Entertainment launched the Playstation Portable. This tiny little machine fitted nicely in a small bag, had a battery that lasted for hours on end and promised to deliver a massive library of games that would fulfill any gamer’s heart. While that last bit of promise took a bit of time, Sony came through for hardcore video game players around the world, and provided us all with ports of some of the PS1 and PS2’s best titles and also having a few innovative titles of its own.

With this new handheld system, Sony also introduced the Universal Media Disc (UMD), a new form of disc based storage media. Basically, this was a super-mini DVD that came with its own protective plastic cartridge. The UMD is able to store over a gig and a half of data and provided game developers with plenty of ROM space for games. The media was also used for movies that are meant to be played on the handheld.

The Playstation Portable, better known as the PSP, comes in several forms. Its’ very first incarnation, the PSP-1000 was launched in the US back in 2005 (it was launched at the end of 2004 in Japan). In 2007, the PSP-2000 Slim and Lite version reintroduced the device in all markets (Japan, US and UK) with a device that weighed much lighter, had a longer battery life, had a microphone input and video output port (for component cables) as well as better brightness settings. The third version, PSP-3000, arrived just a year later and introduced a built in microphone and enhanced the performance even more.

A fourth device, the PSP Go! deserves a little special mentioning as well. This device does not use UMDs and instead, makes use of the built in storage for games. It is smaller than the regular PSP and packs mostly similar specs to the PSP-3000. Mostly shied away from by the hardcore market (due to its download-only nature), the device served more of a purpose as a portable media device than a gaming machine.

The PSP is considered to be one of the most versatile devices of its time. Featuring its own operating system and user interface, the PSP is able to handle a wide variety of media for people on the go. The built in image, music and movie player allowed users to view JPG, BMP and PNG files, play MP3s and AAC audio content, and also supported UMD movies and MP4 videos as well (it should be noted that while UMD games are not region locked, the UMD movies are restricted by a region code similar to conventional movie DVDs). The built in WLAN and web browser keeps the device online and also allows players to access the Playstation Network Store –logging in using the PSP will automatically take users to the portable portal of the site. For storing game saves, media files and DLC content, the PSP makes us of Sony’s Memory Stick Duo. And when connected to a computer, the device can also serve as a basic USB storage alternative.

Gaming fans will want to have this system in their arsenal –whether they are on the go or not. The gaming library hosts a wide range of must play titles for a wide range of game genres (featuring exclusives such as Monster Hunter Portable, Metal Gear Solid: Peace Walker, Patapon, Loco Roco and many more). For those who are simply looking for a good media player with web capabilities, the PSP Go or the PSP-3000 is most recommended as they are the smallest and lightest of the group.

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PSP Countdown: Things We will Miss When the NGP Arrives

There is plenty of talk about the Next Generation Portable –basically, the PSP’s successor. As much as we all would want to call it the PSP2, Sony’s official name for the new device is the NGP. And so far, most of the hardware features are proving to be quite impressive and promising. Despite all things optimistic, it is hard to deny that there will be a lot of changes, and most certainly, a lot of features will be missed. Here’s a quick list of some of the things we would wish were present for the NGP.

The UMD

The universal media disc has its fair share of detractors, limitations and issues. But the bottom line here is that disc based media has always been a key element for the PSP. While modern flash based storage can easily match discs in terms of storage size, there is a certain charm to the UMD that will be lost. Also, there are plenty of reports that the NGP will be hosting save files on the new game media itself. The only good thing here is that Sony will still be selling physical games –as opposed to the PSP Go style of having only download content.

The XMB

Sony’s Cross Media Bar has been lauded to be an award winning user interface design –and after using it, we can clearly see why. Used in the PSP, the PSX and many Bravia models, the XMB provides users with an easy to use interface for accessing a wide variety of features and controls for Sony systems. Now, a new UI has been introduced for the NGP and it will be making the most of the touch screen input. While impressive, it certainly looks a lot more cluttered and less composed when compared to the more dignified approach of the XMB.

For PSP owners, the XMB has been a major factor for making the device easy to use. Since it is based on the control pad’s directions (up, down, left and right), moving across one set of options to another takes only one tap of a button. Viewing media, managing save files, changing settings have all been made easy with the XMB. Also, a large choice of PSP themes allows players to change the look of the XMB icons and background. Without a doubt, this UI will certainly be missed.

Removable Battery

It may not seem like a big deal for many users, but a removable battery is a great convenience for those us who love to travel. Playing with your favorite games while on the road is a treat that many gamers cannot do without. But sadly, as impressive as any battery capacity may be, games that use plenty of processing power and WiFi connectivity will certainly take a serious drain on your charge. When you are in a location without a decent wall outlet or access to car charger, the only hope you have for gaming is to pack along a second fully charged battery or two. Those of you who love to play ad hoc games will certainly be familiar with how much value a removable battery gives.

In the end, despite all the little drawbacks on the side, there is no doubt that the NGP will still be much looked forward to. After all, with such powerful hardware and a promise of great launch titles, who would not be excited? But the PSP is far from obsolete. With most of the PSP’s major titles just being released, we can expect to see more enjoyable hardcore gaming on this classic Sony handheld before it finally waves goodbye.

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Sony’s Playstation Portable Takes on the Nintendo DS

For the most part, the handheld console market has been heavily divided between the Sony PSP and the Nintendo DS. Together, these two devices literally controlled the industry, and despite the advent of app gaming for smart phones, game developers know that if they wanted to produce big games, it would be on either one of these two.

Of course, there is a distinct difference between the two devices and while the ideal is to have both (and have access to both gaming libraries), one simply cannot help but compare. So here it is: the PSP vs DS showdown.

Model to Model

One of the biggest arguments that DS owners make is that the later versions of the DS matches that of the PSP. However, on a side by side comparison, the only DS to get a leg up is the DS XL –which offers a larger screen (there is no PSP version with a screen larger or smaller than the original). However, even this is not that big a deal, the PSP’s screen size is still packing a higher resolution. Other features such as the DSi’s browser, media player and camera have all been available since the first PSP device –though the camera is an external attachment that hooks up on top of the PSP. To match the DS’s microphone, the PSP introduced a mic jack for the PSP-2000 model and a built in mic for the PSP-3000.

Input Controls

Sony’s PSP brings to players a directional pad, an analog nub, four buttons and two shoulder buttons. The Nintendo DS makes use of a resistive touch screen instead of a nub. While the DS has an advantage of a second screen, the fact is that most games hardly utilize the secondary screen for any worthwhile purpose (nothing that a pop-out menu on a single screen layout could not change). And even titles that seemed reliant on the touch screen (GTA: Chinatown Wars, Knights in the Nightmare), eventually were ported to the PSP without any control issues. The big drawback for the DS is that they did not make use of a capacitive touch screen (in fairness, the technology was not common back then). Since players would need to hold a stylus with one hand, supporting the entire device with the other hand became slightly difficult. This was especially the case for the first edition of the NDS which was particularly heavy for just one hand.

Portability

Right off the bat, the PSP’s better with its’ quick hibernate mode and simple controls. As with any device that makes use of a stylus, DS players have to be mindful of where they place their sticks. The quick hibernate mode gets a special mention since you never know at what point in the game you will be when your train reaches your stop. While placing down the lid of the DS sets the game into sleep mode, the battery drain is strong. The PSP allows players to quickly press up the power button and send the entire device into hibernation. This lets you head off the train, get to work/class and return to your game at the exact point where you left off later in the evening. With the DS, you’ll be praying the whole time that the battery does not run out.

Hardcore Games

There is no lack of casual gaming titles for both devices. But with established hardcore titles, the PSP has a much larger library. So far, Nintendo has been doing great with many of its big-name first party developed games such as the Pokemon series, Metroid and innumerable Zelda and Mario games. With third party developers however, Sony has more to offer. Capcom’s Monster Hunter series pushes the PSP’s connectivity features to the forefront by emphasizing multiplayer gaming (other such games include Namco Bandai’s Ace Combat X2 and Godz Eater Burst, Sega’s Phantasy Star Portable series, Square Enix’ Lord of Arcana, and Konami’s MGS: Peace Walker). Other major franchises such as the “City Stories” for Grand Theft Auto also appear on the PSP as full games as opposed to the sprite based mini-games that appear on the NDS.

While this may seem one-sided, the NDS is not without its good points. But for the most part, there is very little that the Nintendo device has to offer for the hardcore gaming market. As we mentioned above, a gamer’s true ideal still lies in being able to get both systems and play all the great games available!

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Ad Hoc Party: Multiplayer Adventures With Your PSP!

There are plenty of reasons to love the Playstation Portable, and one of these is the fact that the device has its own built in WLAN feature. Just flip up the WiFi switch and you are ready to go online or connect with other players. While Sony has opted to not allow games to have multiplayer options via the PSN, the PSP does support ad-hoc connectivity –giving players all the more reason to meet up with their friends and play together. If you have been itching for some solid cooperative multiplayer gaming fun, here’s a quick list of our most recommended games to try out.

Phantasy Star Portable

Without a doubt, Sega’s Phantasy Star series is one of the most famous multiplayer games of all time. Even with its initial incarnations on the Dreamcast, the game has already been placing its multi-player feature on the forefront. On the PSP, players get to continue the story of the Phantasy Star universe after the events of the first couple of games, bringing a completely new cast of characters and locations.

The game’s menu driven navigation lets you get around the usual array of shops and mission lists in a flash, with the system waiting only for the host player to confirm the commencement of a mission. Once started, players get to explore the mission maps in a full third person action mode. The ingame combat is easy to grasp and the lock on system feels very intuitive. Overall, this game makes for a perfect starter’s run on multiplayer. For those looking for a deeper gameplay, you might want to check out the next entry.

Monster Hunter Portable

Originating from the PS2, this strange dinosaur-monster hunting game has taken the world by surprise. Capcom has come up with a really good formula: a main town where the player has plenty to do such as cooking, mining, fishing and crafting items. Then top it off with specialized missions that place the player out in search of massive creatures through deserts, forests, ice capped mountains and more.

The hunting theme is quite evident in game, from the concept of having to track down a target monster in a large map to the visual details of the town and character models. In multiplayer, the large variety of weapons and items allows players to join and compliment each other’s fighting styles. Currently considered as one of the most famous multiplayer games on the PSP, this is one game you cannot afford to pass up.

Metal Gear Solid: Peace Walker

Unlike our previous two series entries, Peace Walker is a standalone game. This epic prequel story to Metal Gear (and sequel to Snake Eater) brings back more of the stealth based action and cinematic storytelling that MGS is known for. But new to Peace Walker is the ability to link and team up with your friends to accomplish missions.

While it is possible to complete story mode alone, the game is best played with a friend or three. As a team, players can utilize varying squad formations, make joint attacks and accomplish missions faster and more efficiently. As a bonus, creator Hideo Kojima has teamed up with Capcom to put in a few special Monster Hunter stages as well –placing Big Boss (and friends) up against some of the meanest enemies on the MH bestiary.

Godz Eater Burst

It may seem like an odd title, but this Namco Bandai game is currently the best cooperative game out there yet. The controls and combat are often cited to be very simplified and we certainly agree –but remember this is not necessarily a bad thing. With multiplayer games, it is quite often that you have to mind a lot of things in the intermission areas. While there is also some inventory management and crafting to be done in GE Burst, these functions are made simple to accomplish and understand.

The result is a game that lets you focus on the fun part: hunting giant monsters. These monsters, or Aragami, are some of the most epic creature we have yet seen in a cooperative game (and we have seen the whole lot that MH has to offer). You, with a team of three will have to work together and take down these nasty beasts. Did we say beasts? Because we meant to, after all, there are plenty of missions in the game where you and your team will also have to face a squad of these titanic monsters. More often than not, players will have to split up and strategize properly to succeed.

There is no doubt that there are plenty more amazing multiplayer genres available on the PSP, some allow for competitive gaming, and others are also cooperative. But there is a certain charm to the third person action hunting genre that makes it hard to resist. Be it the in depth character customization, or the many things you can do in game, or the fact that you can take on some of the most epic monster battles ever made in a game. Either way, you can expect to see of these types of games to appear in the future, and more reasons to stay connected with your friends.

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