PSP Vs. DS: The GR Portable Prizefight!
Posted on Saturday, March 12 @ 01:12:12 PST by Ben_Silverman
The DS truly makes its living with its odd gimmickry, a fact that stands in perfect harmony with Nintendo's age-old commitment to giving gamers new ways to interact with their games (R.I.P, Virtual Boy). The dual screen approach is a brave one and has already led to some interesting gameplay dynamics not found on any other system. Using the touch-screen and built-in mic to play games is a crowd-pleaser, and while some games make better use of these devices than others, you have to stand up and loudly applaud Nintendo for trying new things. That's a nice complement to a company that has relied on the same mascot support network for nearly all of its twenty-year U.S. lifespan.
Speaking of which, you can enjoy the massive numbers of older and upcoming GBA games on the DS thanks to its backwards compatibility. That's a lot of software and a bunch of very good games, even if they don't utilize any of the features of the DS. Many of those games are kid-friendly, too, making the DS a better pick for the wee ones.
How about saving games? Well, the DS continues Nintendo's handheld tradition of cartridges, meaning you save your games directly on the games themselves rather than the system. This has obvious merits since you never really have to manage memory, but also means you can't really take your saved games over to a friend's house. It's cost-efficient, but a bit antiquated.
Wireless multiplayer support is also available on the DS, and we've seen a handful of titles take advantage of this in a great way by not requiring every user to have a copy of the game. Unfortunately, despite the fact that the system is equipped with the 802.11b wireless networking standard, there has been no word on whether or not they'll actually start making some games playable online. If history is any indication, don't expect Nintendo to put much effort into supporting interesting online setups.
However, the DS scores big with its remarkable surround-sound emulation. It provides serious audio for such a small device. You can't listen to music on it or anything, but man, those games definitely sound good.
But while the DS takes some cool risks with its design, so does the PSP-and it does a few things even better.
One look at the PSP and you know this ain't a Gameboy. For starters, it's got both a D-Pad and an analog stick, although the small nub itself takes some getting used to. The system also comes with a built-in USB 2.0 port, which might not sound as sexy as a touch-screen, but the ability to connect your PSP to a PC opens up all sorts of doors previously closed to handheld gaming. You can connect a USB camera and take pictures. You can download MP3s and use your PSP as a poor-man's Ipod (just don't expect it to hold remotely as many songs without seriously upgrading the standard 32 MB memory card). The PSP can read .jpgs as well; I know some very geeky geeks who have even downloaded entire anime novels online to read using the PSP. The geeks.
We didn't think the PSP could compete with the DS' awesome audio, but after testing the two systems side by side, all we could hear was the PSP. Plus, it comes with cool headphones right out of the box.
Since the system has no internal hard drive, it relies on Sony's classic memory card plan for saving games (the PSP runs UMDs and therefore games can't be saved onto them directly). The standard 32 MB card will hold a good amount of saves and you can always get a bigger one, but that ain't free. Expect to manage your saves just as you did with the Playstation and PS2, although this time, you can use that USB connection to swap them over to a PC. That's pretty awesome integration.
In terms of wi-fi, the PSP gets the win if only because so many of the games already support actual online play. Provided you have a wireless internet connection handy (any wireless home router will do, as will any public wi-fi hotspot), you can actually play your PSP against other PSP owners around the world. Joe, for instance, played Twisted Metal against a guy in Utah while sitting on the GR toilet here in California. Talk about efficient gaming!
Well done, PSP. 1 Point for you...and a half point for the DS (because we're suckers for backwards compatibility.)
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