The year was 2005. Nintendo had recently released the Nintendo DS and I thought they were insane. “Two screens? They’ve gone bonkers!“. When Sony announced the PSP it appeared to me as the answer to Nintendo’s insanity. A high powered console that used high capacity mini-discs that could store entire movies on them seemed like a dream to a fan of portable gaming. I decided to go all in. I ordered GameStop’s most expensive PSP bundle. It came with the console, 4 launch titles (Need for Speed : Underground Rivals, Untold Legends : Brotherhood of the Blade, Deerstalkers Chronicle : The Chaos Tower and Metal Gear Acid) and multiple accessories including a carrying case and a car charger.
People who saw my PSP to were immediately in awe of it. Colleagues were interested in the movie playback capabilities for traveling with kids (Portable DVD players were still popular then). Friends were interested in the games and the awesome graphics. I even knew a guy who bought one after seeing it could function as a MP3 player. It seemed that the PSP was destined for greatness.
Appearances can be deceiving though. All of the launch titles turned out to be utter crap and I quickly traded them all in. Very few movies were getting UMD ports, and often the UMD versions cost more than DVD copies. Out of stubbornness I purchased Jet Li’s ‘Unchained’ for 25$ just to get some use out of my PSP (awful movie, don’t’ get it). My memory card was far too small to be a useful MP3 player and iPods ended up ruling over that market anyway.
The deficiencies in the PSP’s design also became apparent. The power slider is possibly one of the most absurd interface elements of all time. It’s positioned under your right hand and is extremely easy to hit accidentally. Sliding down engages the button lock which prevents any buttons on the console from working ( not very useful during gameplay) and sliding up either suspends the console or turns it off, depending how long you hold it. There is no visual indication between off and suspended so you have to hope you got the right one. If you didn’t, WOE TO YOU. The battery dies after a few hours in suspend mode so you’ll need to find your charger. In fact, the battery dies all the time. I can’t count the number of times I’ve had to reset the clock on my PSP due to complete battery drainage. Sony released an extended life battery upgrade that I briefly considered buying, but I decided it would be cheaper to keep the PSP plugged in.
The PSP had brief, but memorable periods of usefulness. During an extended illness my future wife had missed the latest episode of LOST, so after buying a ridiculously expensive memory card upgrade I was able to bring the movie to her apartment. Shortly after she agreed to marry me.
Thanks to the hacker community, my PSP also briefly functioned as a portable Nintendo hand held. In fact, I bought a copy of Grand Theft Auto that I never intended to play because of a vulnerability that would allow me to launch a NES emulator. I was able to play Mega Man while flying to Hawaii on my Honeymoon, all on my hacked PSP.
After a few years with my PSP it represented the single biggest case of buyers regret I had ever had. I’d spent untold hundreds of dollars on overpriced games, movies and accessories and had gotten very little use out of the console. Other competing consoles were taking up the majority of my time and my sad little PSP sat on a shelf, forgotten and unloved. Upgraded versions of the PSP were released but they didn’t tempt me at all. I wasn’t going to be tricked again.
Then something happened. Final Fantasy celebrated it’s 20th Anniversary. Square-Enix re-released upgraded versions of several old Final Fantasy games for including Final Fantasy I & II Anniversary Editions, and Final Fantasy Tactics. Being the good Final Fantasy fan that I am ( my wife often jokes that I am the only reason Square-Enix is still in business), I naturally bought all three of these titles. My PSP found new purpose as a place to re-play old Final Fantasy games. The PSP went with me on a month long trip to Europe where I played through Final Fantasy Tactics for the second time.
Gradually more games came out for the PSP including Final Fantasy VII: Crisis Core, Final Fantasy IV : Complete and the most unusual fighting game ever – Final Fantasy Dissidia. Several classic PS1 titles were also made available and I was able to re-play Final Fantasy IX.
I’ve played a handful of forgettable non-final Fantasy titles such as Daxter and Lumines but Final Fantasy is what finally helped me to get over the regret of purchasing the system.
Now, 8 years after launch my PSP is finally leaving service. I’ve gone through three DS consoles and two 3DS consoles in the same amount of time, but my original PSP has stayed in service until today. Now it is finally time to say goodbye.
Farewell Playstation Portable. May eBay carry you off to greener pastures.