Note: With the European release of the PSP today, I have updated and re-published my original review of the PlayStation Portable from 28th January 2005.
I can still vividly remember when I bought my PlayStation 2 console. I had spent the best part of two hours wandering around the legendary Golden Arcade in Hong Kong and finally decided to give up on haggling over a few dollars and just put my credit card down. Of course I picked up pretty much every game that was available at launch while I was there, and couldn’t wait until I got home to fire up my new baby.
The hours I spent waiting for my flight, and the long journey home did little to dampen my excitement. Due to a disastrous clashing of work diaries, my wife was catching a plane to New York while I was landing at Heathrow airport, so I really did have nothing else to do when I arrived home but unbox the PS2 and get comfy on the couch.
Unfortunately, despite all my excitement and anticipation, when I sat down and played my PS2 I found the experience very disappointing. The problem was that the launch games on the PS2 were nothing special, and the Dreamcast had better software available at the time. Whether Sony rushed out the PS2 to kill off the Dreamcast is open to debate, but there’s no doubt that the PS2 didn’t live up to the expectations of original PlayStation users.
It was therefore with some trepidation that I watched the development of the PlayStation Portable (PSP). Although I firmly believed that Sony had the ability to create something truly special, my enthusiasm was held in check by my memories of the early PS2 days. However, when I finally got my hands on a PSP at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas last January, I realised that I shouldn’t have worried.
Put simply, the PSP is the most important thing to happen in the video game industry since the launch of the original PlayStation. I know what you’re thinking; that’s a pretty bold statement, especially since this is Sony’s first attempt at a hand-held gaming platform. But let’s remember that being the new kid on the block didn’t stop the original PlayStation from redefining video games.