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PSP Report Card - My So Called Portable Console
By Cyril Lachel     |   Posted on March 24, 2006   |   Episode 51 (Show Archive)  

   


Nothing says PSP like a creepy Japanese old guy!
On this day last year Sony officially stepped into the portable video game market. For over fifteen years Nintendo had led the industry with its popular line of Game Boy products, a formidable foe that took down everything in its way. Bandai, Sega, Atari, NEC, Tiger and SNK, these are the companies that drew their swords and fought against the Game Boy, only to be slain before having a chance to prove themselves.

But Sony was different. While Atari and Sega managed to get their products out there supplied with a few good games, neither company had the money to sustain themselves in a long drawn-out fight with Nintendo. Sony, on the other hand, is easily the most financially healthy company to go up against Nintendo, giving some hope that in the future the portable market won't be so one-sided.


Now the TurboExpress comes in a bite size form!
Sony also had one other advantage, their PlayStation products have been the industry leader for ten years. Put all of this together and you have a system that just might be able to go toe to toe with Nintendo. But it's not going to be easy, and this first year has proven that there will be many struggles for Sony if they are going to dethrone Nintendo and become the handheld champion.

What happens in the future is anybody's guess; it's not our job to predict what Sony, Nintendo and maybe even Microsoft do when it comes to handhelds. Instead we are going to take this time to look at the past twelve

I give you the best selling calendar of 2005!
months; to take Sony to task and see how they're first year has gone. And what better way to analyze 365 days of the PlayStation Portable than to send them back to school? I think it's about time we demand a report card, let's see if the PSP is a straight A student or flunking out!

(Editor's Note: For the sake of this article we are looking at the American PSP, which was released March 24, 2005. Some gamers might point to December 12, 2004, as the PSP's real birthday, but we're not talking about the Japanese market. Also, bare with our forced "high school" metaphors and analogies, they seemed appropriate at the time.)

1st Semester - First Days

If this kid knew he was going to be lab partners with the PSP he wouldn't be so happy about his first day!
There's nothing quite like the first days of school. You've had plenty of time to plan out what you're going to do, you know who your friends are, and you're all prepared with all the accessories and expensive products. First days mean you're starting fresh; nothing behind you is going to bring you down. This is going to be the year you make something of yourself; it's going to be the year you make people -- parents, fanboys, shareholders -- proud of you!

There is no doubt that the PSP was prepared for its spring 2005 launch, it had a good number of quality titles, major third party support and the media out front promoting it. Some could argue

Twisted Metal was really the first PSP game worth playing online!
that of all the console launches last year (which were pretty much only the PSP and the Xbox 360), it was Sony's portable that had the best initial line-up. Games like Lumines and Metal Gear Ac!d were as addictive as they were unique, while Tony Hawk's Underground 2 Remix, Ridge Racer and Twisted Metal: Head On proved that the system could port console games with relative ease. The games were diverse and, for the most part, the quality was high.

Along with the games came a great number of media functions, including audio MP3 and video playback. Unlike other portables that were merely meant to play games, the PSP's diverse features made it an easy comparison to

Sure the iPod is tiny, but does it play games?
Apple's hugely popular iPod series. The mainstream media, a group normally uninterested in the video game scene, touted this as the next major step in portable entertainment, helping Sony's little portable become the most popular kid in class.

But despite the steady string of high-quality games, constant media attention and comparisons to the iPod, the PSP's days of being the overachiever were coming to an end. As the months wore on you could tell that those days of new beginnings were long behind us and that darker days lay ahead. But the PSP need not worry; it had built up enough extra credit early on to sustain itself even during a few bumpy weeks at the end of the semester.

Evaluation: The PSP came into this semester with a strong sense of self; it looked good and had the right attitude. It kept busy and became astute at socializing, even in the face of an enormous media storm. We're starting to worry if all of this attention is going to its head, work in the past couple weeks has dropped off significantly.

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