Pretentious, opinionated language

Games, technology, music, silliness. Oh and ninjas. Lots of ninjas.

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Location: Oslo, Norway

I am Andreas. Day time programmer and technical consultant. Night time musician and game developer.

Monday, December 19, 2005

My final verdict on the PSP

It's taken me a while, and it's been pretty tough. On one hand, i adore being able to play Burnout on the go. I adore the screen, which is just beautiful. The weight of it is comfortable. In the end however, using a PSP hurts.

The controls are terrible. Just terrible. I felt less pain using a NES controller (remember that brick, with the hard angled corners cutting into your hands?). I actually felt more comfortable using the black and white buttons on the first terrible incarnation of the Xbox controller.

The analog stick does things to my long-fingered hands i have a hard time figuring out. It really just hurts my hands a lot. The angle my wrist is at, the angle my elbow is at. The way i have to cradle the PSP to still maintain a grip of the analog stick. It works for the first few minutes, but a 20 minute Burnout multiplayer tournament just wreaks havoc on my wrist. I have more wrist pains now than i have had ever since i first started using a keyboard. How's that for carpal tunnel syndrome.

Before you give me the fanboy stamp, let me remind you i own this thing, and have paid for 4 games for it. I really gave it a long, hard go. I feel wowed at one moment. But then i return to my DS for another Mario Kart race, or another game of Meteos, and i realise just how fucked up Sony's take on the handheld really is.

The DS *DOMINATES* the PSP in the usability stakes. Better dpad by far. Better analog control with the touch screen (really!). The face buttons suffer a bit because of their tiny surface area, but they still feel more responsive. Perhaps it is because i just spent more time with it? I don't know. I DO know that the DS hasn't hurt my hands, not once. Nothing akin to the screwdriver-through-the-wrist-and-thumb treatment the PSP puts me through.

It's a frustrating conclusion to reach. For one, it means i probably bought my last PSP game, at least until Rockman Rockman is out, or a game that effectively uses the terrible dpad well in some way. It's pretty wack that a dpad-controller racer somehow plays more elegantly than an analog-enabled one, and that just speaks volumes of the inadequacies of the PSP.

My final, bombastic conclusion? The PSP is a complete failure as a handheld gaming device. It might fare better as a portable movie viewer kajigger if you're willing to overlook the ghosting. A gaming device that won't let you play games without cramps and anguish is a poor design by default. I'm sure it works fine for some people, but for me, it just doesnt, and i dont have weird crinkled tentacled hands. I have gamer hands. I've been playing games since i was very very small indeed. That Sony failed to do extensive enough testing of their initial design just speaks to their lack of understanding for the format.

Cool screen, shit controls. REAL shit controls.

The funniest thing, and the most provocative, is the total lack of criticism people display for this designer brick. Friends go "When are the good PSP games coming around?". I tell them "Get a DS, it's got tons and is cheaper, the PSP is agony incarnate". What do i get? "Are you selling yours?"

I'm sorry guys, you know who you are, but STILL wanting a PSP after its monumental failures and STILL ignoring the raditude of the DS, AT THE SAME TIME as you diss the industry's disregard for gameplay over better graphics; I couldn't do a better job of invalidating your opinion. It's frustrating. Please, play games on an expensive brick, youll doom us all.

Anyone got ideas to turn my opinion around? Ways to hold the thing and effectively use the analog stick without cramping up? Fixes for the horror-pad? I'm all ears.


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