Re-evaluating the PSP and DS

After a colleague bought a PSP, I decided to re-evaluate the PSP and DS. I did some more research, looked at the available games, pricing, and features. I still enjoy my Game Boy Advance SP, and stand by what I wrote earlier in the year.

But I didn’t place enough importance on how it is the games that sell a platform. Forgetting the price tag or the cool non-game features (internet and movies), the PSP’s initial game lineup wasn’t that appealing to me. If I wanted those games I would own a PS2. There are definitely a few gems in there, though — Lumines looks very good.

Not surprisingly when you consider the unique pen input option on the DS, the DS games are going in another direction entirely, and for the most part I like it. This video of an upcoming Kirby game looks fun, similar to the new Yoshi. And then there’s Electroplankton, a bizarre title that is less game than musical experiment.

4 color rebellion on casual gamers:

“Many gamers are so emersed in the medium, or have been at it so long, that they dont look at the casual market with open eyes. All of those new gamers Nintendo is talking about? This is where they are. They dont know what Final Fantasy is. They havent beaten Super Mario 64. Its the simple, enjoyable games that get them interested.”

I fall somewhere in between casual and hardcore gamer. I want games that I can learn fairly quickly, and that I can just as easily play for 10 minutes as 2 hours. I also enjoy old games (lately I’ve been mixing Advance Wars 2 with Super Mario Bros 2).

Getting back to the PSP vs. DS debate. Would I trade in two screens for a single screen the size of the PSP’s? Probably so. A next-generation Game Boy would ideally fit somewhere in the middle, with a larger screen than the current GBA but maybe not as big as the PSP, to keep that easy “in your pocket” advantage.

This illustrates the challenge Nintendo faces with their three-tier strategy. Although the DS can play GBA games, a new Game Boy is unlikely to play DS games. Nintendo is the unquestioned king of backwards compatibility, but it’s unclear how they are going to solve this puzzle.

After I wrote the above, Nintendo announced the Game Boy Micro. This is not the next-generation device that some were expecting, but it sure looks cool. It is lighter than an iPod mini and just a little bigger. If the price is right (and I expect it will be), and it works with the Play-yan for music and movies, this could be a killer little device.

Manton Reece @manton