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Nobody Left to Defend the PSP Ports
By Cyril Lachel     |   Posted on August 21, 2006   |   Episode 111 (Show Archive)  

   

What fun would a game be if it didn't have plenty of mysterious floating blocks?
These days you can't go far without hearing about another PlayStation 2 game being ported to the PSP. Everywhere you look there's another company taking the easy way out and porting their popular console line-up instead of developing something fresh and original. You cringe at the thought of From Russia with Love being optimized for the handheld, wince every time somebody mentions The Godfather, and moan and whine when people bring up OutRun 2, X-Men Legends II or Ape Escape. They are the PS2 ports and it's one of the very worst things about the current PSP library.

The PlayStation Portable has its fair share of great titles, including Exit, LocoRoco, Lumines, Tokobot, Every Extra Extend and more, yet for every one of those "unique" games it seems like there are at least two crummy PS2 ports. The problem isn't the franchises; it's great to see new portable games

Liberty City Stories is a good example of a game that's great as a portable but fails as a console port!
from Tekken, Jak & Daxter and Syphon Filter. The problem is games like Def Jam Vendetta and Star Wars: Battlefront II, games that go straight from the console to the portable for no other reason than to make a few extra bucks.

Lately Sony and the third parties have started to stress the importance of brand new titles on the PSP; fewer upcoming titles are the simple PS2 ports we have been seeing for a year and a half. But just as Sony seems to be fixing one problem another one arises. All of a sudden Sony has two port issues, both threatening to take down Sony's handheld market. Sony needs to stop worrying about PS2 ports and focus on the PSP's newest concern, PSP ports!

It all started when Rockstar Games surprised everybody by announcing Grand Theft Auto: Liberty City Stories for the PlayStation 2. Up until that time few had even considered porting a PSP game to the PlayStation 2. This kind of thing rarely happened with the Game Boy Advance and Nintendo DS, very few portable games are ported to console systems half a year after they were released.


From Russia With Love is just one of the many bad PS2 ports on the PlayStation Portable!
Liberty City Stories paid the price for being the first; most journalists criticized the game's crummy look and couldn't get past the idea that they were playing a portable game on a console. But regardless of what system you play it on, Liberty City Stories is a fun adventure with interesting characters put into exciting situations, and while it was far from perfect on the PS2 it's still worth buying due in large part to its budget price.

Now that the heat surrounding Grand Theft Auto has died down it appears to be safe for other PSP games to follow suit. One of the first to announce a PS2 port was Lumines, the musical puzzle game that launched with the console. There are still a lot of PSP owners out there that would argue that Lumines is still the best game on the console; the kind of puzzle game

With a little help from your friends you too can sell enough units to get a PS2 port!
that you'll never get sick of no matter how many years you put into it. Lumines was once a great selling point for the PSP, but with Lumines Plus on the PS2 and Lumines Live in the Xbox Live Arcade it seems like nobody is being left behind. Sure the PSP gets the first crack at Lumines II, but will gamers be as into it with the Black-Eyed Peas and Gwen Stefani?

Lumines is not the only quirky puzzle title going from the PSP to the PlayStation 2; console gamers will finally get their hands on a port of Tokobot, Tecmo's bizarre puzzler featuring annoying robot helpers. Tokobot Plus will feature the original PSP content as well as a few new scenes, think of this as the "Director's Cut" of fun PSP original.

If we only learn one thing from this trend let it be the fact that when you port a PSP game to the PlayStation 2 it's important to include the word "Plus" to your name. So next year when LocoRoco invades the PS2 it will be known as LocoRoco Plus. And don't forget Field Commander Plus, Pursuit Force Plus or Street Fighter Alpha 3 Max Plus.

But while it's fun to stand around and joke about Street Fighter Alpha 3 Max Plus there is a serious trend starting to blossom here. If we aren't

Thanks to Street Fighter Alpha 3 MAX on the PSP we finally have new Street Fighter artwork!
careful we're going to start seeing a lot of PSP exclusives turn into second-rate PS2 budget titles. Will people still want to buy Grand Theft Auto: Vice City Stories on the PSP if they know that they can save $30 by waiting six months for the PS2 port? Will PlayStation 2 owners be happy that they are waiting for a game that didn't even start out as a console game?

As Sony transitions into the PlayStation 3 gamers will likely see even more PSP porting. There is a giant PlayStation 2 market out there; it would be foolish for Sony's third parties to ignore this giant fan base. Instead of paying people to focus on a PS2 version of their games it stands to reason that they will just port their existing PSP games to the console for a budget price. This type of cycle could lead to the eventual PlayStation 2 release of Tekken: Dark Resurrection and Syphon Filter: Dark Tomorrow. As these companies turn their attention towards the next generation these PSP ports just seem inevitable.

You would think that all this would be a giant compliment. We're talking about a portable console that is so good that some of its best games can be ported to a larger console and still be worth playing. Yet everything that is good about this situation is quickly undercut by the fact that this is just another excuse for people to ignore the Sony PSP. It will be interesting to see how this battle plays out in Sony's first stab at the portable market.
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