Next Generation Playstation Portable Announced

Speculation has been running wild lately about a successor to Sony’s portable gaming platform, and today many of the rumors were laid to rest. Unfortunately, a few more questions were raised.

While not officially calling it ‘PSP 2’, the NGP or Next Generation Portable, was trotted out on a Tokyo stage with an army of developers and publishers backing it up.

Past the break, we’ll share the details as we know them.

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Game Of The Year Awards 2010

Over the last month we’ve spent a lot of time catching up on titles we missed, taking notes, and debating the virtues of our favorite titles.

It all culminates in our annual list of worthy titles.

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Game Review: Pocket Empires Online (Android)

PE1Is There A Good Civ Building Game that’s FREE???

Name: Pocket Empires Online
Type: MMO – Timed Actions
Platform: Mobile – Android
Current Cost: Free

Having recently converted from carrying a Blackberry to using an Android phone on my daily commute, I needed to find a couple of distractions that could help fill the void left by Brick Breaker and several other tower defense style games.

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Product Review: V-Screen

The V-Screen is a hybrid carrying case and visual enhancement.  There are opening for all the input areas like headphones and power ports.  Unfortunately, you will have to pull the system out to do anything with the memory card and to swap out UMDs.

This peripheral is made for older models of PSP (1000, 2000, and 3000) so unless you have a Go!, it will work great.  The V-Screen includes a screen cleaning cloth and a foam insert that fills the extra space if you’re using a Slim model.

V-Screen hi rez

Some of the corners can jab you a little, but I didn’t notice anything that was causing problems playing games.  Another annoyance is the size. The V-Screen adds some bulk to your portable gaming system. If you didn’t like ‘The Duke’ controller from the original Xbox, then you might not like this.V-Screen Back

The visual enhancement/3D maker is awesome, and makes it all worth it.  Many times when I have used a magnifier, it blows out the picture and causes issues with the visual quality.  The V-Screen does not do that. The picture stays clear and smoothly scales your viewing area.  The 3D aspect is very cool,  but you do have to hold it a little closer to your face to see the whole screen.  Rock Band Unplugged in 3D was awesome, but a little hard to play the fast paced button masher in the case because it moved around a bit.

If you are looking for visual enhancement, I would say this is what you want to go with.  You get a case, and it makes the PSP 3D. How can you go wrong?

Product Review: PSPgo

pspgo

A new addition to the PSP family was released this month. Smaller form factor, all digital downloads, and complete new design. How does the new entry compare to previous models and is it really worth the price?

The Playstation Portable (PSP), has not entered into it’s 4th revision and the PSPgo is probably the most drastic of changes to the device. The obvious change at first glance is the  size of the unit, it is significantly smaller than any of its predecessors and the buttons/analog stick(yes, there is still only one) is located under the screen that slides up.  Other changes that have been made is the removal of the standard mini usb port on the device and the volume/brightness has been relocated to the top of the unit.  The memory stick slot is still present but no only accepts the new Memory Stick Micro (M2).Probably the change that has the biggest impact would be the complete removal of the UMD drive. This device is now a completely digital content only device. No more carrying around little UMD discs and the assortment of cases or protectors that go along with them.

Enough with the changes, let’s take a look at the new additions to the device. With the removal of the UMD drive and the push to a all digital content,16GB of  internal storage has added to store your goods. If 16GB is not enough, use of the M2 slot can also be used to store additional personal content other than games like music, pictures etc… Bluetooth connectivity is a welcome feature as you can use it to tether it to a cell phone and use it for an internet connection in the event that you have no access to Wifi, definitely a plus. With the removal of the mini usb connector, a new proprietary multipurpose connector has been added which means that you will need to buy all new cables.This connector also is used to charge it so if you lose the usb data cable/charging cable that comes with it, you won’t have one just lying around and will need to buy a new one. The new cable has a standard usb type A connector that plugs into a very small power brick, further downsizing what you need to carry with you.

Perhaps my favorite feature that has been added to the new PSPgo is the ability to pair a PS3 Six Axis controller to it and use it for playing games. It works flawlessly and is very nice if you’re traveling and have it hooked to the TV in the hotel room or your hands are just too big for the button layout offered on the PSP.  It is also very handy if your playing remote play games from your PS3 while your away.  With a Six Axis being used, you can play games while the screen is in the closed position to sit in a docking station. A very welcome and unexpected feature.  There are only a couple of features in regards to software functions that the other models do not have.  When the screen is slid down a clock is displayed and can be switched to a calendar which I rarely use but it is there  and looks nice. The ability to pause the game  state with the PS button is a very handy feature. You press the PS button and you get the same menu as you would on the previous models with the menu button but you have a ”Quit/Pause” option now. When you select this and then choose “Pause” it saves the current game state and takes you back to the XMB. Under your game menu you will see a “Resume” game icon. When selected it will load the game back up and continue exactly where you paused it from. This is particularly handy for games that only save at certain points and you need to stop playing but hate to lose your progress.

When I first saw the announcement and presentation on the PSPgo, I was a little bit worried about the recessed buttons underneath the screen but after having some hands on time with it at E3, they are placed in a very comfortable position and respond quite well. The triggers being behind the screen take a little getting used to but that is probably due to being used to the old form factor. The only real problem that I have with the new layout would be the placement of the Volume, Display and Mute buttons behind the screen. This isn’t a big deal but does require you to actually tilt the unit to see which button you are pressing and depending on the case may be difficult to get to.  Again, not a huge deal but more of an annoyance to me.

Overall the changes and new features definitely improve upon the PSP but if you already own a PSP 2000 or 3000, there probably isn’t really a reason to justify the $249 price tag.It plays the same as the other versions  and the games look the same , it doesn’t make coffee or anything. It is a bit steep for a handheld unit but if you don’t have one and already have a PS3 or 360 it is a solid unit.

The only serious gripe that I have really isn’t with the PSPgo itself but with the price of the games in the PSN Store which is the only way for you to get games. The price of the digital version of a game is exactly the same price as it would be for a UMD version of the same game. I personally think that it should be a little bit cheaper being that they didn’t need to manufacture a manual, case or even a disc. By offering the same game at a cheaper price for a digital download, more people with the UMD based ones may actually move to buy more games online. Which is obviously the direction that Sony is trying to push the platform.

So unless you don’t mind spending the extra cash,have to have the latest and greatest, or just want a smaller device, my recommendation would be to stick with a 2000 or 3000 unit. I really like and use it a lot more than my previous PSP’s but it is a bit overpriced.

http://rcm.amazon.com/e/cm?lt1=_blank&bc1=FFFFFF&IS2=1&npa=1&bg1=FFFFFF&fc1=000000&lc1=FF0000&t=bombbrian-20&o=1&p=8&l=as1&m=amazon&f=ifr&asins=B002BSC55Mhttp://rcm.amazon.com/e/cm?lt1=_blank&bc1=FFFFFF&IS2=1&npa=1&bg1=FFFFFF&fc1=000000&lc1=FF0000&t=bombbrian-20&o=1&p=8&l=as1&m=amazon&f=ifr&asins=B002CZ756Ihttp://rcm.amazon.com/e/cm?lt1=_blank&bc1=FFFFFF&IS2=1&npa=1&bg1=FFFFFF&fc1=000000&lc1=FF0000&t=bombbrian-20&o=1&p=8&l=as1&m=amazon&f=ifr&asins=B002U89LUUhttp://rcm.amazon.com/e/cm?lt1=_blank&bc1=FFFFFF&IS2=1&npa=1&bg1=FFFFFF&fc1=000000&lc1=FF0000&t=bombbrian-20&o=1&p=8&l=as1&m=amazon&f=ifr&asins=B002LHGOU0

Brian Ellis is a co-founder and senior editor of Bag of Mad Bastards and co-host of Drunken Monkey Tech podcast found here. He can be reached at brian@bagofmadbastards.com if you have questions/comments.

Product Review: Sega Genesis Portable Handheld

sega-handheldI recently got my hands on a handheld device that features 20 Sega Genesis games. Wanna know if it’s worth the $50 price tag? Catch my review on the other side.

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Game Review: Rock Band Unplugged (PSP)

rbuboxMy earliest experience with rhythm games came from Harmonix’ FreQuency and Amplitude, two titles for PS2 that were critically acclaimed, yet never really captured the attention of consumers.

Once Harmonix added a plastic guitar to the mix, everything changed.

Guitar Hero and Rock Band have become behemoths in the video game marketplace, selling untold amounts of downloadable songs, add-on packs, and filling your house with plastic instruments.

While I’ve enjoyed this new generation of music game, I’ve always wanted a true sequel to FreQuency and Amplitude.

Rock Band Unplugged eschews the bulky peripherals and makes the leap to a mobile platform. But is it a true spiritual successor to Harmonix’ original rhythm concepts?

Read the review, and I’ll let you know.

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