I recently bought myself a second-hand PSP. Now, given that I already own a DS, it may seem like a slightly strange decision, especially as I like my DS, which has kept me thoroughly entertained on my journeys to and from work over the past four years or so (despite me having no previous predilection for Nintendo consoles or properties – I don’t care about Mario, Zelda, Metroid…any of ’em – sorry).

Furthermore, if we must reduce everything to a who-won-the-console-war (and for my purposes here, we must) then it’s fair to say that the DS won the battle of the noughties handheld gaming devices, fashioning an image for itself as a wholesome, accessible gadget for normal people and celebrities that could somehow improve your brainpower.

The PSP, on the other hand, was for antisocial teenage knobheads (ie the stereotypical gamer) to play the same old FIFA and Need for Speed on, year after year. Pity the poor PSP owner, the forum-dwellers and games-website-comment-leavers would say, for he has no brain and he is not a real gamer. (And then they’d also say something about the DS being for female children – perhaps for balance, but mainly because that’s just what forum-dwellers and games-website-comment-leavers, basking behind the cloak of internet anonymity, like to do).

But for some people, playing FIFA and Need for Speed is not particularly something to be sneered at. And while the DS has a jolly good go at both (NFS: ProStreet on DS is a particularly creditable effort), it’s fair to say it just wasn’t built for football or racing games. And those just happen to be my two favourite genres. Hence, my purchase.

One wonders how it went so wrong for the PSP. There was so much cooing about its superior hardware when it was first released, and even now, it’s an impressive machine. It’s been said many times before, but PSP games are effectively PS2 games with slightly longer loading times and a layer of audio-visual polish chiselled off. Perhaps that was the problem: I mean, why would you pay full asking price just to play a very similar game to one you already own on the move?

I won’t speculate any further on it, because if I knew what was going to be a success and what wasn’t, I’d be a rich man working somewhere else*. Will the Vita be a hit? I predict…nothing. All I know is that for around £50 I’ve now got decent portable versions of, among others: Pro Evolution Soccer, Need for Speed, Football Manager and Midnight Club. Which is nice.


*Here’s some further speculation: despite some interesting news here and here, in all likelihood, the PSP is a dead system. Games shops don’t have PSP sections now, and if they do, they’re very small indeed.

Also: only a retro-bore like me could take some pleasure in owning a technically competent but defunct system because it reminds him of previous times when he owned a technically competent but defunct system. I had (still have, actually – somewhere) an Atari Lynx and thought it was awesome, but the gaming public preferred that silly little one with the green screen. There were some good games though – if you could ever find anywhere to buy them. And it really was a decent machine. You know, back then, we had to use batteries in our handhelds, you couldn’t charge them…[continues on in this vein for several hours]