When handheld gaming is talked about, the default go to is Nintendo. I was the same at one stage – in fact my first handheld was a Gameboy Colour, later moving onto the Gameboy Advance. However as much as I have fond memories of them, they didn’t and still don’t bring me as much joy as the PlayStation Portable does, or PSP if you prefer. Sony’s first entry in the handheld scene was the PSP and I loved the look from the off. Yes, people were unhappy with just the one analogue stick initially, but it really didn’t matter to me. It was the PlayStation brand in your hands. It had media abilities like nothing else for its time and its screen was brilliant too. Of course, like any other handheld, it had multiple revisions over time including better screens, lighter and various colours.
I was thinking about the PSP last night and how I’d love Sony to bring it back. In reality, this likely won’t happen as the PS Vita didn’t do well enough. The Vita, as gorgeous as it was, didn’t replicate the original PSP magic for me. Its OLED screen was stunning, but the games were more fun for me on the original PSP. I remember playing mobile Gran Turismo, Final Fantasy Crisis Core and The 3rd Birthday, and these were all outstanding and delivered the PlayStation experience. The PSP could’ve been so much more if Sony had stuck with it and didn’t insist on going with their own storage solutions, which were ridiculously expensive for what was a glorified SD card. We had the memory stick duo and the Vita used what looked like a Micro SD cards, but it wasn’t, so it forced you into buying Sony’s own memory storage solution. This was part of the demise for the Vita as they were just too expensive.
PS Vita also had the problem of effectively being dropped by Sony and developers alike. The games just seemed to dry up and it went away. PSP was slightly different as it had the issue of custom firmware, which Sony were never able to get on top of and despite trying to solve it, hardware revision hackers found a way around it. Once a PSP was modded, it could do even more. It could be an emulator for many consoles. This isn’t too bad from a gamers perspective but for Sony, it’s a nightmare as people would use it to play other games or, in 99% of cases, pirate the PSP game themselves as it allowed them to be run from internal storage. The other aspect for PSP was the odd format for the games themselves, in using a UMD for games and movies. I quite liked these quirky things, but this just added to the cost for Sony. They could’ve gone with something simpler, e.g. cartridges.
Most importantly though, the PSP and even PS Vita produced some great games that we didn’t get elsewhere! We had the few I mentioned above, but many more such as Loco Roco, Killzone Mercenary and Metal Gear Solid Peace Walker. On top of that, we were also able to play PS1 games, so we had Final Fantasy 7 on the go. The possibilities Sony had with the PSP and Vita were vast and I feel they could bring it back and make a success of it even further. For me at least, PSP was an outstanding success and PS Vita was a great follow up, but just lacked a bit of the magic the original one had. Sony, if you even see this, I ask kindly – bring it back!