On March 24, 2005, the Sony PSP launched in North America to rave reviews, kicking off Sony’s battle with longtime rival Nintendo in the handheld space. While Nintendo’s Game Boy and DS systems had defined the handheld landscape for years, Sony was looking to bring their brand of slick, high-production gaming to the pockets of gamers everywhere.
In many ways, the PSP was a system far ahead of its own time. It sported a gorgeous widescreen LCD display that showed off its then-impressive graphical capabilities. The system was bizarre and unique in that it used optical discs for media storage: the universal media disc, or UMD, was used for both games and movies that were released for the system. Let’s take a look back at the wonderful little system and some of its very best games.
It’s hard to talk about the PSP without mentioning its stellar launch title, Wipeout: Pure. The Wipeout franchise has long been a favorite of racing fans, and Pure was no exception. Following in the footsteps of other high-speed races like F-Zero, Pure allowed for unparalleled speed through breathtaking tracks, all set to a mindblowing soundtrack.
From the very launch of the PSP, there were games worth owning and talking about, and Wipeout was at the forefront of that conversation.
God of War: Chains of Olympus
Much of the promise of the PSP was that it would bring PlayStation console games to a handheld console. Nowhere was this more evident than in God of War: Chains of Olympus, a true successor to the PlayStation 2 series. Playing around the system’s lack of a second analog stick, the developer Ready at Dawn skillfully used a fixed camera to frame the stylish and gorgeous action.
From hack-and-slash combat to satisfying puzzle-solving, God of War is a tour de force for the system, seeing the player guide Kratos in his battle against the Greek God Ares. Characters from mythology make appearances throughout the game, as both friends and foes.
Stylish, sleek, and full of some seriously jamming tunes, Lumines is one of the very best puzzle games of all time. As an early release for the PlayStation Portable, Lumines defined the system as the home of unique and gorgeous games that were perfect for playing on the go.
Gameplay consists of matching colors of blocks into larger squares, which are then deleted in time with the tempo and beat of the song playing in the level. Game actions can add layered sound effects to the songs, making the game a fascinating synesthesia experience.
Looking back on the PSP, its stellar screen, impressive specs, and great game lineup made it a unique and unrivaled experience. While it was pitted against the Nintendo DS, the PSP was simply playing in a different space from Nintendo’s system. The PSP was a multimedia player, a miniature PlayStation, a slick fashion statement, and a truly portable version of Sony’s system.
While Nintendo may have had the last laugh in the handheld wars, the PSP will always be remembered for bringing true power to the world of handheld gaming.