Since I have had a PSP (Playstation Portable) since they were released here in Australia (1st September 2005), I have seen some of the best and worst of Sony’s first venture into the handheld gaming market, one long considered to be solely Nintendo’s domain. The release of the PSP has taken some of that market from Nintendo, however it is only in the western countries, Japan is still wary of leaving Nintendo behind.

The PSP is more than just a games machine, it is a portable media device, with the capacity to view photos, listen to music and watch movies. This may seem like alot, but you can also surf the internet on it (provided you have firmware 2.00 or higher). Lets not forget games, the little handheld can play games of a graphical quality on par with some better PS2 games, and often better than most. The quality of the games is dependant upon the developers however, with some classics already being released, while some failures that should never have made it on shelf. This is like every console just after release, when the range of titles is still growing.

One of the best thing I have seen in the time of the PSP has been inventive, original games. The most obvious example is Loco Roco, however Lumines and Mercury. Loco Roco, despite seeming simple and 2D, was highly addictive and challenging, not to reach the end, but to collect every hidden item, to ensure bragging rights over friends and relatives. This is the same for Lumines, since learning the game may only take a few rounds, but mastering the game and unlocking every skin takes intense consentration and pleanty of practice (My high score is just over 100,000 at time of writing). As for Mercury, the difficulty of that game is without question, while trying to unlock all the bonus stages is near impossible, even for the most skilled gamer (Even you Ian).

The worst things about my beloved handheld include shameless PS2 ports, and UMD movies being released at such a ridiculous price point. Most titles were the same price, sometimes more, as their DVD equivalent, without any bonus features or the ability to play on anything but the PSP. Thus, without allowing the PSP to connect video output to the TV, I believe Sony killed the UMD movie market before it was even released. Lets just hope they do better with Blu-Ray.

Other games, although not completely original, are still released solely for the PSP are just as playable. Take Me and My Katamari. This was released as the third in the series, the first two being released on the PS2, not in Australia however. This unique, enjoyable game was lucky enough to get a release on PSP in Australia. Tekken:Dark Resurrection was another great game to be released, developed solely for the PSP. We need more games like this, with which the PSP will really come into its own as a handheld console, which it deserves to do. The PSP is a quality piece of kit and deserves quality games like the ones I have mentioned above (and those were only examples, not a complete list by any means). So snap to it developers, the fruit is ripe for the picking.

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