Sony has finally revealed the successor to its PlayStation Portable and it looks like a sharp little machine. It's packed with technical horsepower and seems to be trying to combine the best aspects of the original PSP, the Nintendo DSi, and Apple's iPhone 4. It sports dual analog control sticks, a touch panel on the front and the back of the system, 3G antenna, built-in GPS, motion control, and a vivid OLED screen that boasts four times the resolution of the original PSP's screen. They're making Uncharted, Killzone, and LittleBigPlanet for it, among other things. Games come via download or at retail on special unidentified flash memory cards. The NGP (short for Next Generation Portable; no PSP branding on this one at the moment) will be out in stores this holiday season in Japan. What's the cost? If you have to ask, you'll never know. How does it feel to play it? Let's check in with Game Informer's Phil Kollar:
Here's a word I promised myself I would never use to describe an electronic device: sexy. Nevertheless, the second I had the NGP in my hands, this is the first adjective that flashed across my mind. It's skinny, sleek, and feels great. I wasn't able to get a hard number for the weight of the device, but it was definitely lighter than my first-gen PSP, much more in line with the feathery feel of the PSPgo. I guess not having a bulky UMD drive will do that.
Since the controls are laid out almost exactly like a PS3 controller, I was able to jump into Uncharted with almost no learning curve, using the controls just as I would on the console. (NOTE: stay tuned for further impressions of Uncharted on the NGP.) One kind of surprising but important difference is the analog sticks. Rather than being pulled over directly from the PS3 controller, the analog sticks on the NGP have been redesigned and feel a little more like the analog sticks on an Xbox 360 pad -- concave rather than rounded. I only spent a short amount of time with the device, but I think there's a good chance that the analog sticks on this could feel better than the analog sticks on the regular PlayStation 3 controller.
The rear touch pad on the system has a cool PlayStation logo design but is smooth, so swiping your fingers across it feels approximately the same as doing so on the screen itself. The PlayStation button used to bring up menus is placed underneath the left analog stick rather than in the middle, which seems like it leaves some room for accidentally pulling up the menu when you're really pulled into a game. That said, I didn't run into that problem during my short playtime, so I could be worrying over nothing.
It certainly sounds impressive and my interest is piqued. We still need to hear about the price and the launch library before being able to debate how well the NGP will do in the market, but for a product announcement, I think Sony nailed this one. I bet we won't see the NGP outside of Japan until next year as the company launches in Japan first where the original PSP is still a viable platform compared to the rest of the world. They should launch at home first, build up the hype, and get the international audience drooling over what they can't have just yet. Once that frenzy is at its peak, release the system and let the early international adopters talk up the experience to those on the fence. Then the fence-sitters buy into it, and the rest is a done deal. Of course, this all assumes a reasonable price, dependable battery life, and that the Nintendo 3DS will not have gained an impenetrable foothold in foreign markets by that time.