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The Greatest Handheld Made

jess_pspI love my PSP. I was the proud owner of one of the first made PSPs to come out on its launch all those years back. Yes, even in Montana, a gamer could get his hands on all the new toys that come out. Thank god for Best Buy.

Being the proud owner of the PSP-1000 series was a dream come true. It was ridiculously expensive, but it was no different than what people today spend on buying a iPad or a iPod Touch. This system was revolutionary in the fact that it has a LCD display that was big. We’re talking a whole inches of screen, here.

I still have my original Gameboy, and just comparing the two, the Gameboy looks like a toy from the stone age. But like all dreams, a careless accident ruined my 1000-series one day, so I bought a PSP-2000 series.

How could I have thought that before this that my Game Boy was the greatest thing ever when it didn’t have a color display, it wasn’t back lit, it took four AA batteries and used these miniature cartridges to play games? There was only one speaker, it was limited with the sounds it could make, and the display was, compared to the PSP, a pimped-out calculator screen. Ah, good times. All for the wonderful price of roughly $90.

So what makes me love the PSP above all others?

Let’s start with the 16:9 widescreen TFT 4.3 inch LCD display. It can produce about 16 million colors on a 480 x 272 pixel resolution. Now that’s where it’s at! The size and clarity of the screen makes it worth the price alone. Add in built in WiFi, ad hoc link for other PSPs when you play games, a universal memory card slot, dual speakers, and USB 2.0. Another great feature about this system is that it has a built-in media player for videos and movies, internet browser, and downloadable applications. Last but not least, it plays UMD–based games and movies. It does, as Playstation says, everything — well, almost everything but take out the trash and wash my clothes. One can wish.

Games are the primary reason to buy this handheld, and it has nothing short but the best titles available for it from every major game publishing company. Most notably, games like Metal Gear Solid, Rockstar’s Grand Theft Auto, SOCOM Navy Seals series titles, Gran Turismo, Need For Speed series titles, Resistance, Tom Clancy games (which range from the Ghost Recon franchise to Rainbow Six), 2K Sports games, and the Madden NFL series. Final Fantasy has also made a comeback with the release of more than six titles available for the PSP, as well.

Some drawbacks with this system are that it only has one analogue stick and no rumble, which hurts its feel with racing games and practicality with shooters. How do you play a shooter with only one analogue stick? Movement is usually done with the analogue and the four programmable buttons on the right side control — either side movement, aim, or camera movement. This makes for a interesting handle of the system while playing any game that requires you to react quickly. Racing games are straightforward, but it’s hard to be aware of your surroundings without a rumble for “feel” of the track through the controller. Another downfall is that PSP games can cost up to $40 and movies as much as $20, which seems to be a bit overpriced. Nevertheless, this should not be a deterrent from you buying a PSP.

So what do I get for spending $100 for this thing in terms of graphics? I mean they can’t be that great, you ask? Depending on the game publishers and the amount of time spent before the release of the game, PSP games can have stunning graphics. I would compare GT to at least PS2-quality graphics, and most shooters like Metal Gear Solid or Brothers in Arms look comparable to a XBLA game. Sounds and music are also high quality and have lots of depth. I would recommend that you wear headphones to get the full effect from the games, though.

Calling all PS3 owners: Did you know that data from your PSP games can be wirelessly transmitted back to your system and unlock special items for games you own? A great example is Gran Turismo. With more than 800 cars to race and 32 tracks, it’s a miniature version of the soon-to-be-released grandaddy of all racing games, Gran Turismo 5 (I absolutely love Forza 3 for my Xbox 360, but GT5 has opened my eyes after seeing previews). If you connect your PSP to your PS3, cars you unlock playing on the PSP system will be available along with special additions that would otherwise you wouldn’t get when you first play GT5.  How about having the advantage of playing Madden NFL with your PSP as your electronic playbook from whch to choose your plays? No more can your opponent who’s sitting next to you see your plays. Each game offers different options, so be sure to find out specifics for each game before you buy and link your PSP with a PS3 system.

Sporting big titles for games and movies, WiFi connectivity to the Internet and the PlayStation Network, along with great features like console-handheld connectivity, why wouldn’t you love a the PSP? The greatest handheld made: It’s the logical conclusion.

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