Saturday, July 08, 2006

Game over, man!

Apologies for not posting for a while. What with summer getting in the way and all I haven’t had much inclination to sit down and write for a while.

Anyway, today I thought I’d put down some thoughts on the hoary Nintendo DS vs Sony PSP debate.

I’ve been playing both systems for a while, well since this encounter at least. If you’re a PSP fan, don’t let the cheap look and feel of the DS fool you, especially since the DS Lite is now widely available.

Think of it like this: Nintendo started with the original Gameboy, a kind of handheld gaming gunpowder. They then slowly refined the product until the DS Lite came along. Portable Semtex. Sony, on the other hand introduced the PSP - their Atom Bomb.

I like the PSP. It’s got that screen, great build quality, uses basically MiniDisc as storage (I was always a fan of MiniDisc until the iPod came along), wireless & USB communications and a spectrum of media options. Ok, so it uses Sony’s expensive flash storage and UMD movies are overpriced and many games are ports of regular console games blah blah blah, but it defines what can be done with consumer
electronics in the early 21st century. What it lacks too, is that sense of innovation - there's nothing in there that it's big cousin doesn't do. Maybe that's ok for a portable gaming system, I don't know.

The DS on the other hand is somewhat underwhelming. At first. Yes, it’s much cheaper than the PSP. Yes it’s well made to a degree. (The silver paint on mine is wearing off already!) And yes the original’s screen(s) left a lot to be desired.

Where the PSP is basically a (large) pocket Playstation 1.5, the DS takes the success of the earlier Nintendo systems (it’s the games, dummy!) and throws in the dual screen (I could live without) and the touch screen.

The touch screen basically tramples over any previous analogue control system on any platform bar the mouse. It provides super sensitive, accurate control over the subject whether it’s you’re little character in Animal Crossing, or you’re having a balls out wireless deathmatch in Metroid.

The DS might only be Semtex, but it can deploy a stealth torpedo in the shape of well integrated WiFi. The multiplayer aspect of some games is extremely well handled. With Metroid, you can have a 4 player deathmatch with complete strangers over the internet in an airport lounge using wireless. It’s a slick, lag-free experience. Couple that with noise cancelling headphones and you’re heading for a missed flight scenario. It’s that good.

Switching back to the PSP can be refreshing however. The screen alone a reminder why you’re glad to be back. Booting up Wipeout and getting into the ‘zone’ is what the Playstation was all about and can still be achieved on the PSP with the right software.

If can forgive the shortcomings of each system, they can both take a place in your gaming life.

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