The Sony PSP Launch Guide

The Sony PSP Launch Guide

On March 24th, the handheld gaming world changes forever. With the masses used to handheld graphics and power closely resembling games from a few generations back, Sony seeks to change all that with the Playstation Portable (PSP), a powerful new handheld that comes extremely close to the performance of modern home consoles. With hotly anticipated titles and tons of multimedia features, the PSP looks set to dethrone Nintendo’s GBA and DS as the king of the handheld realm. We shall see.

So what’s the big deal about this thing? For starters, we’ll take a look under the hood and see just how powerful the PSP is.

PSP Product Specifications:

Dimensions: Approx. 170 mm (L) x 74 mm (W) x 23 mm (D)

Weight: Approx. 260 g (including battery)

CPU: 333MHz

Main Memory: 32MB

Embedded DRAM: 4MB

Display: 4.3 inch, 16:9 widescreen TFT LCD
480 x 272 pixel (16.77 million colors)
Max. 200 cd/m2 (with brightness control)

Speakers: Built-in stereo speakers

Main Input/Output: IEEE 802.11b (Wi-Fi)
USB 2.0 (Target)
Memory Stick- PRO Duo
IR Remote (SIRCS)

Disc Drive: UMD Drive (Playback only, for games, movies, and audio)

Main Connectors: DC OUT 5V
Terminals for charging built-in battery
Headphone/Microphone/Control connector

Keys/Switches: Directional buttons (Up/Down/Right/Left)
Analog pad
Enter keys (Triangle, Circle, Cross, Square)
Left, Right keys
POWER On/Hold/Off switch
Brightness control, Sound Mode, Volume +/-
Wireless LAN On/Off switch
UMD Eject

Power: Built-in lithium-ion battery, AC adaptor

Access Control: Region Code, Parental Control

Bundled accessories:
Headphone with remote commander
32MB Memory Stick Duo
Spider-Man 2 UMD film (first one million units in US only)

All of this for $249 of your hard-earned dollars. Yup. All well and good. C’mon, though, we know what you really care about: the games! We’ve got all the info for every one of the games within Sony’s PSP “Launch Window”. Know what comes out on day one, along with what you have to look forward to in the coming months. So, without further ado…

– Liquidcross

Ape Escape: On the Loose

Publisher: Sony Computer Entertainment America
Genre: Action
Release: Launch Title

Where would a system launch be without a quirky little platform game involving the catching of monkeys? Luckily Sony doesn’t have to worry about this question, as they’ve chosen Ape Escape: On The Loose to fit the bill quite nicely.

While not a completely new adventure, Ape Escape: On The Loose is a remake of the first adventure found on the PS1, where main character Spike needs to travel through time in order to recover the monkeys let loose by the evil Specter. Within, you’ll find all the familiar areas, gadgets, secrets, and rambunctious monkeys back when the game was released in 1999. Of course the graphics and audio are being reworked to look and sound even better than before.

For those who remember, the original Ape Escape was one of the very first PS1 titles to incorporate the use of both analogue sticks as its main gameplay option. Unfortunately the same control scheme can’t be replicated on the PSP, so the controls have been reworked as well. The left analogue stick still moves Spike around, but instead of simply switching between gadgets with the face buttons, you’ll be activating the gadgets with them.

The REALLY good news is that this isn’t a straight port with updated graphics. You’ll also be able to unlock multiplayer mini-games through the single-player adventure. You’ll be able to play against computer AI, or play against people using the PSP’s Wi-Fi capabilities. It’s an excellent addition to an already interesting game. So keep an eye out during the launch, before it escapes! *cough*

– Alex Williams

ATV Offroad Fury: Blazin’ Trails

Publisher: Sony Computer Entertainment America
Genre: Driving
Release: 04/19/05

And here’s yet another game to give the lie to Sony’s original “no ports” promise on PSP games; Blazin’ Trails is an improved version of the PS2’s Offroad Fury 3. But let’s judge the game on its own merits, shall we?

The game will be instantly familiar to any fan of the series; everything has been taken straight from the PS2 game, from familiar tracks to the almost-identical control system. Comments from early previewers seemed to point to controls slightly more sensitive than on the PS2 version, but this seems to add to the experience, rather than detract. As ever, the PSP’s graphics are impressive. It seems the game runs at a suitably fast speed, with clear, precise graphics even at top speeds. All that remains to be seen is how many players are convinced by the need to pick up this version, when the PS2 version is equally available, for a lower price. Time alone will tell…

– Misha

Darkstalkers Chronicle

Publisher: Capcom
Genre: 2D Fighting
Release: Launch Title

Sometime towards the end of when I hung out in arcades on a regular basis you had a few options in gaming. You had the “Shoot things on the screen” games. You had Pinball, and you had fighting games.

The market was a little more than saturated with fighting games. Everyone was much better at Mortal Kombat than I was so I kept to the rarely played pinball machines and the odd fighters that very few people played. Darkstalkers was one of those games. Certainly in my old stomping grounds of Boston, though the game did get a pretty good following.

Not enough it seems for the Dreamcast game released only in Japan. Now however we have a new and updated port of said game all in the palm of our greedy little hands.

The games attributes are there to find. You can play every single character from the entire series. You can play your friends wirelessly and the single player mode has been greatly expanded. There are also a seemingly infinite number of ways in which to customize how all the characters fight.

The only problem I can really see with the game is that they tried to get too much stuff into the picture. The Screenshots and Video both looked very busy. The Backgrounds are nearly as rich as the foregrounds and fighters. Each fighter also has special moves of course and those are richly detailed as well. Too much so in my opinion for such a small screen. The game has already gone gold though, so perhaps I’m the only one who thinks it. Still it may be an worthy addition to the launch line-up.

– Philippe

Dynasty Warriors

Publisher: KOEI
Genre: Action
Release: Launch Title

The Dynasty Warriors series has been a favorite of mine since it was released. I like to kill things, I like swords. What more could a person want really? Well with Dynasty Warriors the only answer has been more. Mainly, more enemies to kill with a sword. Huge armies, Huge maps and you smack dab in the middle of it all.

That was actually my worry with the PSP version. Handheld systems can be played anywhere, but what’s the point of playing if you have to sit still for the half hour that each battle would surely take?

Luckily enough for everyone involved, they’ve broken each battle down into zones. Each zone taking four or five minutes to complete.

They’ve also had some fun in redesigning how your army works. Along with the army that follows you wherever you go, you can also choose three officers to fight with you. The officers have a lifebar just like your general and even have powers of healing or crazy destruction skills.

The storyline is based on the third installment of the series and in fact there are some repeat stages and battles, but much of the game is new and shiny and beautiful. Fans new and old are going to love the crap out of this game and in fact its the primary reason why I’ll probably get the system.

– Philippe

FIFA 2005

Publisher: Electronic Arts
Genre: Sports
Release: 04/05/05

Probably the best-known football/soccer game franchise in the world, and the PSP is getting the first-ever portable version of the game. And as much as various members of The Kliq may hate EA’s business practices, we’ll still give them credit where it’s due, because we’re professional and unbiased. (Editor’s Note: Well… ok, so most of us.) And from the looks of the preview material, this will be one of those times – the PSP’s first footy game looks like being the Real Deal.

Right from the start, the game grabs you with its oh-so-pretty graphics (which are impressive, even for a series that’s tended to pride itself on looking pretty). Only a few odd-looking texture-oddities, and they’re only noticeable in far-bigger-than-actual-size screenshots. There’s a wide selection of modes on offer, too – Everything from the usual friendly, tournament and season modes, to Challenge Mode (which from the sounds of things is a series of scenarios, things like “1966, and you have to make sure England get that stoppage-time goal to secure their World Cup win”) and the Mid-Season Mode, where you can step right into control of your favorite club in the middle of the 04/05 season, and see what you can do with them. Competitive wireless play is the icing on the cake here. No need for cables, just a willing opponent.

In short, if the game itself plays as well as it looks and sounds, EA will have a stormer of a hit on their hands.

– Misha



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