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I’m probably a little late here.
The PlayStation Portable was released over seven years ago here in the US, the Vita is coming up on its first anniversary, and here I am sitting in my chair and playing the original PSP 1000 for the first time. You could say I missed the system’s bandwagon (not to mention its entire life cycle), but that hasn’t stopped me.
You see, I’ve been on a mission to learn about gaming history. Popular franchises and games, consoles, arcades, and the PC are all on my list, but the PSP was next. Now, growing up on Nintendo and eventually switching over to Microsoft’s Xbox 360, I have only played a Sony system twice. Before now, I didn’t hold “that other Japanese company” in very high esteem. I mean, it’s not like they’ve done anything else important, right?
Well, the men in black suits who control my opinion have told me that I have to look at these things “objectively,” and that apparently Sony actually has had a big part in gaming history. So, I bought a PSP and some games, and began playing.
Because it’s not like I could play this on any other console already…
As for my first impressions, I’m terribly ashamed and humiliated that I held such a deplorable attitude toward the system, as I am now quite possibly addicted to it. I wasn’t exactly interested in fair chances a few years ago, as I would referred to the PSP as “a PS2 with one nub instead of two analog sticks.” Of course, now I realize that my handheld of choice, the Nintendo DS, was actually just an N64 with a touch screen instead of a control stick, so that may not have been my best argument.
Perhaps I did overlook the system, and I most certainly underestimated it, but that doesn’t change just how impressive it really was. It had its flaws, but it may have been the most impressive handheld ever released at the time. It used discs, had an analog stick (err, nub), and allowed you to download new games and play existing ones with friends over the internet. These advances all had drawbacks and limitations, but at least they were there.
Yes, the analog nub wasn’t the most comfortable method of control, but it was still better than a D-pad. Also, it certainly wasn’t convenient to transport the UMDs, but they could hold so much more than a DS cartridge. I’ll even admit that the internet support was a bit limited — not to mention plagued by lag — but the fact remains that it was leaps and bounds beyond anything else available at the time.
In my own way, I’ve become like a proud owner of a Dreamcast, just not in the physical sense. As I play through modern classics like Patapon and The Third Birthday, I’m reminded of all the stories and fond memories associated with titles like Shenmue and Sonic Adventure. I can finally feel the same pain late adopters of the Dreamcast felt (or adopters of the late Dreamcast, as it were). This fantastic little system is in my hands, playing visually stunning games, and it feels glorious, yet my inability to support it means that I can do nothing to keep the system afloat. I can only watch as newer ones overtake my precious little gaming device in sales, news, and popular opinion.
It’s an awful feeling, and I’m really not sure what I can do about it. As much as it pains me to say it, I was just too late. No new games are being released, system sales are pathetically low, and many GameStop locations won't be carrying PSP merchandise anymore. I completely missed the system’s life cycle. I should have given the system a chance, but I didn’t.
Even though most will glare at it and say, “Who cares? The Vita is already out,” I’ll just look at the system with a solemn, contemplative stare. While I don’t regret purchasing a DS, it has become clear that the decision wasn’t as clean cut as sales numbers would indicate. The PSP was a serious competitor for the DS with fantastic exclusives, impressive technical specs, and some innovative features.
Unfortunately, it lies in bargain bins across the country, alone and forgotten. A monument to my ignorance, and possibly that of others.
What console do you regret missing the most?