It's been over ten months since my previous rant, and in that time there's been a heck of a lot going on within the gaming industry. Whilst this article is going to cover the reasons why the late launch of the PSP is a positive thing, it was amusing to read back on my previous rant, which speculated the Nintendo DS would launch at $199.95 (this was correct) and the PSP at $249.95 (over $149.95 off the confirmed RRP). It's the latter of those two that I want to discuss now though, and in particular why PAL people like ourselves shouldn't feel to sorry for ourselves over the PSP's late arrival.
And it is late - the PSP launched in December, 2004 in Japan, and March 2005 in the United States. Whilst it's common for PAL gamers to become somewhat left in the dark regarding the release of the platform and its games, many probably felt extra cheated when Sony announced that the PSP wouldn't launch in Australia and Europe until September 2005. Whilst this was bad enough, the original price point for the PSP was a premium price of $429.95, which was higher than the Americans were paying for their handheld, and excessively higher than what the Japanese had to pay.
Something to look forward to
Whilst this announcement was made months ago - and we've had a little while to cool down now - the PSP is now only a day away from release. However, in the meantime, instead of playing the PSP, we've been looking at why the PSP launching later than in NTSC regions could be deemed a positive for PAL gamers, even if some of the positives weren't what Sony was thinking about when they made the launch announcement. It's nice to be optimistic, kids. So here goes:
#1: New Firmware
Sony has just recently released the latest PSP firmware, which can be downloaded from the PSP firmware website. The PAL PSPs will come with this firmware as standard (well, on the UMD preview disc in the package, anyway - Ed), an update that will include a web browser as well as support for more media formats. Having the firmware embedded into the PSP will make the handheld that much more user-friendly come September.
#2: Hardware Problems Ironed Out (Hopefully)
There were a lot of problems with the PSP when it launched last year, ranging from dead pixels to stuck square buttons. By now, Sony's had ample time to iron out the bugs and we can safely assume that, come the launch, the majority of people won't have any hardware issues.
#3: Larger Software range
The Japanese PSP launch was distinctly average, with Ridge Racer, Lumines and WipEout Pure the stand-out titles. The US launch basically mirrored this, with a few sports titles and Need for Speed: Underground Rivals added to the launch line-up. However, the PAL launch line-up will include all of these titles as well as Midnight Club 3: DUB Edition, Virtua Tennis World Tour, V8 Supercar 2, Colin McRae Rally and more. The result? A far meatier line-up, and rather than PSP owners having to wait months for a quality title, they'll be entertained right up until Christmas.
#4: UMD Movies
Whether or not you're going to buy them or not, (and retailing for $24.95 - $34.95, they're reasonably priced) UMD movies are going to be available in full force come the PSP launch, whilst those impatient types who imported their PSPs may start becoming envious that they can't play the movie UMDs when they start appearing on shelves. There are some quality movie releases planned, as well as the highly anticipated Advent Children, which will be sitting on the shelves mid November. There's also xXx, but you can't have everything.
#5: More Game Content:
The Wipeout Pure packs have been released, and game saves can be downloaded for every single game. There's no waiting for PAL gamers, the content is available immediately. Some of the bugs of the earlier USA games have also been ironed out.
Anyway, hope you've enjoyed the article, and I'll see you in line tomorrow!
The opinions in this article are that of Luke Van Leuveren and do not represent the viewpoints of PALGN or it's other staff members