Who said Love/Hatestories would only be about games or franchises? As some of you might know, my fulltime job has now started. I have to travel about three hours a day, with two hours being just with the subway. I’m not really a person to sit still so I use the time in the subway to do.. anything really. From writing down ideas to listening to music and of course, gaming. I picked up my Playstation Portable again as it was the most suitable one for travel, and I spend way too little time with it overall. And truly, I am so glad I have chosen this particular handheld for travelling. Today on Lovestory, I’d like to share my thoughts about Sony’s first gaming handheld, the Playstation Portable.
First it’s time for a little bit of a history lesson. I first got the PSP in 2012 when I was still in college. Back then I also had to travel quite far (I’m from a backwater town), and I was looking for something to do. I didn’t really use mobile devices back then for anything other than music, and the mobile games that I play today didn’t exist back then anyways. I also wanted something for during breaks or lessons which I wasn’t interested in but was not allowed to skip. Nothing against my classmates but I wasn’t really interested in socializing with them that much; when college was over I wouldn’t see them that much anyways. Do I have myself to blame for that probably, but I digress. I picked the PSP without knowing much about it, just that it had an exclusive that I wanted to play really badly. That game was Dissidia 012 Final Fantasy, and unsurprisingly also the first game I’ve played on that handheld. At the moment I own about 25 physical games which is.. not that many talking from my perspective, but that collection will certainly grow someday.
The handheld itself
The PSP was released in 2005 (2004 in Japan) and tried to compete with the Nintendo DS. At the time it was the most powerful handheld, being able to play Playstation 1 games without any problems, and some of the games did come close to Playstation 2 quality. It had its own unique physical cartridges being UMD, short for Universal Media Disc. Real talk, when I first saw one I had no idea what to do with it and accidentally broke it. Blame my childhood self for being pretty dumb. There are multiple editions of the PSP—five to be exact—that are all upgrades on their former editions. Unless your name is the PSP GO. I own the first edition which still plays fine, and am planning on buying the 3000 edition soon because my original is starting to show its age. Having the 2000 or 3000 editions even give you the ability to link your PSP to the TV and play games on there.
The handheld feels good on the hands, with four buttons on the right side, two shoulder buttons, a D-pad and an analog ‘’nub’’. I’m not really a fan of the nub myself but it functions, and most games allow me to use the regular D-pad anyways. Other buttons include the adjustment of brightness, a music note button to mute the system as any time and finally a home button to return to the home menu at any time, but it will close the game in the process. The PSP has a main menu not unlike the Playstation 3, which is easy to navigate. It also had access to the Playstation Store with wifi but I never really got to use this myself, as well as online multiplayer. You can put music, videos and images on the PSP as well, making it a multimedia device. Though really, if you have a phone you probably won’t use this. Regardless, it is nice to have for whenever you just are not interested in playing a game. But my favourite feature about the handheld is that the console can be put in sleep mode at any given time, and it will resume the game afterwards as if nothing happened. Some games even automatically put you on the pause menu when you return just in case. The sleep mode also lasts a serious long while, at least for me. This makes the PSP the perfect travel handheld for me as I can stop playing at any time and resume later. Of course the same also applies to the Nintendo counterparts, but I feel more comfortable with the PSP. I don’t have to use a touchscreen either.
A game library to my taste
So the game library is one that is actually often criticized by the main public for not having enough games. While that comes down to personal taste and I respect everyone’s opinion, I politely disagree. According to Wikipedia, there are currently a total of 1369 games. While it is less that the Nintendo handhelds, it’s still a great amount. You could make the argument that the PSP was mostly a console for JRPGs and Racing games, and while I won’t disagree with that, there are still enough games of other genres waiting to be played. The handheld had multiple remakes like Mega Man: Powered Up and Castlevania: Dracula x Chronicles which not only was a remake of the original Rondo of Blood, but also contained the original and Symphony of the Night as unlockables. Ports like Tales of Eternia, Valkyrie Profile and the first two Star Ocean games are very welcome as well, especially considering how expensive physical copies of their Playstation 1 counterparts currently are. And then there are the PSP exclusives of which I would like to highlight a few:
- Dissidia 012 Final Fantasy – I mentioned this one earlier but even before I played it, it was a system seller for me. To this date I still think that’s the case, as this is probably my favourite Final Fantasy spin-off game ever.
- Daxter – I must admit that I was not a huge fan of Jak and Daxter II. Maybe I’ll come back on that one later. I highly enjoyed the first game however, being a solid platformer overall. Daxter essentially takes the best of both worlds and combines it into a good platformer.
- Jeanne d’Arc and Hexyz Force– Both level-5 and Atlus have graced us with their majestic presence on the PSP, and the both of them are great games from their respective companies. Jeanne d’Arc is an excellent Tactical RPG using the Hundred Years’ War as inspiration, while Hexyz Force is the next review a JRPG starring two different main characters.
I could list more like the Monster Hunter games, LocoRoco, Patapon and a lot more but frankly, I haven’t played everything either. Someday I will, trust me on that. Especially if I have to keep travelling by subway which means that I have more than enough time to do so.
Okay so this point is technically not something the PSP can compliment itself for. Actually the opposite since Sony’s consoles in general are easy to hack. While I do not promote this in any case, and risks are involved, hacking a PSP is really easy to do if you follow a tutorial. Not only can you pirate PSP games, but also Playstation 1 games and even emulators. I like to have my games physical so I don’t play games that I do not own, but it does make it easier for me to play Japanese games with an English patch. There is a ridiculous amount of games that only stayed in Japan and if it wasn’t for the lovely community that translated them, I would be unable to play them and actually understand what’s going on. And of course this also applies to Playstation 1 games or games from emulators. I would be able to play PSP games like Trails of Azure/Zero which still haven’t gotten an official English release, or Secret of Mana 2 on the SNES emulator because that will probably never get an official release. But when I’m not playing a Japanese game, I’m playing rom hacks. Franchises like Mega man and Super Mario have countless rom hacks on the NES like Super Mario Bros. 3mix and Rockman no Constancy, and the Pokémon rom hacks are truly endless. I don’t feel bad ‘’pirating’’ these as there is no way to get them legal anyways. Add what I’ve said before about the PSP being a great handheld overall with the hacking and you not only got the perfect travelling handheld console, but also a great emulation console.
And there you have it, my reasons as to why I absolutely love the PSP. I’m not sure if I would call it my favourite handheld ever—I mean, Nintendo exists after all—but it certainly is up there. When I’m not playing some really great PSP games, I’m emulating rom hacks on there or games that I already own and want to replay. It is likely that the coming weeks or months will feature more PSP games in comparison to other consoles but like I’ve said before, I don’t know how my year is going to turn out with work. What are your favourite PSP memories? Let me know down below!