...whether this is the big hit I've been waiting for, or a piece of raw potential that needs finer sculpting. Lookswise, this is one of the nicest pieces of console kit that has surfaced in some time ... easily eclipsing the ugly bigger brothers that are the PS2 or the Xbox. Specification wise, it sounds like a dream come true ... a full multimedia device, spanning almost PS2 graphics (yes ALMOST, this machine CAN'T do PS2 graphics or the sheer scale of PS2 games ... place Liberty City next to San Andreas and tell me they're graphically comparable), music, video and net browsing. The reviews certainly can't sway me, 99% of them swing from whining about a) the DS being much better so buy it now to b) these stats from the Sony hype machine mean that the PSP is the best so buy it now. Sigh. Almost as worthy as claiming that either console is better because Jesus had elbows. I almost creamed myself when this came out. Sadly I didn't have the near £300 required to get the console, a proper memory card and a game to play on release. So I was a very sad panda. A few months down the line, I'm wondering whether or not I'm the lucky one now. What on EARTH is going on with the games catalogue? The consoles primary function is to play games and the releases have all but dried up but for EA's franchise machine. Sure, we've got a couple of big hitters including Liberty City, but what else is there? I've been endlessly scanning ign.com in the vague hope that SOMETHING may come out on this machine worth paying the money for. But NOTHING, no previews of anything tasty, NOTHING. I'd fear I would have ended up with a machine that can't compete with a dedicated mp3 player or DVD player if I was forced to fall back on the other media functions if I'd rushed out for that first batch. Ok, so there is the slightly illegal joy of homebrew games. The potential joy of being able to play PC, SNES, Megadrive back catalogues via a bit of firmware flashing and emulation is an appeal in my eye, dodgy as I am. This IS something Sony are cracking down on, however, much to the ire of the modding crew. In their warped view of the world, old games should be free and Sony should be thanking them for making these available to the public, boosting PSP sales. This is, of course, until the likes of Mr Nintendo comes along, pointing out that the Nintendo back catalogue should be PAID FOR and played on their new next gen console, the Revolution, and not a Sony machine, then Mr Sony naturally has to put limits in place. If the PSP undergoes a slight hardware redesign in the shape of an onboard hard drive, superb firmware support for the non-games playing functions to bring the mp3 playing up to scratch. Then we're starting to get in the right market. If we could see some straight ports of older Sony games (I for one would immediately purchase if Square dished out its Final Fantasy games from the past on this), then we're in market winning position. Until that time, Nintendo, who on paper looked completely OUT of the handheld race, are very much in with a shout thanks to their knack of putting out quality games. This you cannot deny, they are proven to produce quality. Its no good having a machine with wonderful graphics if the actual games are BORING PIECES OF INSIPID TRASH. Need For Speed, Harry Potter, Metal Gear Acid, Medievil ... are these meant to be the machines triple A titles?! Once the good games start arriving and perhaps a wee tweaky hardware/firmware redesign, then the PSP should rightfully take the handheld market. Right now, its no-mans land. Check the 'mediocre in all areas' spotlight review for something well balanced. Top marks that man.
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