Reviews That Should Have Been Done A Few Years Ago: The Sony PSP

I love gadgets. I also love video games, a love affair that began back in 1980 or so when we brought home the Atari 2600, which begat the Commodore 64, which begat NES, Sega Genesis, Sega Dreamcast, Sony Playstation, Playstation 2, Nintendo Wii and now Playstation 3. I didn’t get the PSP (PlayStation Portable) when it was released a few years back, but now I’ve borrowed one from my buddy Fred so I can give you my impressions of it.

The display, while small, has decent resolution, and the sound is more than loud enough when wearing headphones (actually, it can be pretty loud when you AREN’T wearing headphones). The graphics seem to be comparable to the PS2, and while I have a meager selection of games (Some futuristic racing game, a first person shooter and a collection of old Activision Atari games), the biggest problem with the device doesn’t have to do with any of that stuff, and everything to do with its design.

Look at the picture above – that black rubber disc at the bottom left is a joystick. the standard PS/PS2/PS3 Controller has two joysticks and is laid out thusly:

Anybody who plays on these platforms is used to the two-joystick method of controlling. The PSP has decided to regress to one joystick, and it doesn’t cut the mustard. A first-person shooter like Syphon Filter becomes clunky and awkward, and I can only imagine how flight simulators are similarly affected. It just makes gameplay less fun, and while my usage is basically restricted to airplane travel, I would like to see a version of the PSP that includes a second black rubber disc. They have the room…

That’s really all I can tell you about the device so far. Am I not playing the right games? Maybe. Is it a good way to kill a few hours on a flight? Sure, and the battery life is impressive. I just can’t get past the lack of a second joystick.

Have you played the PSP? What are your impressions of it?