PSP and Nintendo DS Preview [05/12/04]

Well, it didn't take long for Nintendo and Sony to show off their new handhelds at the Pre-E3 meetings on the 11th of May. Both showings were impressive and lead me to believe that the upcoming handheld war will push that market into as much of a competitive "beast" that the console market is.

Nintendo DS

The mystery behind Nintendo's newest handheld was removed at their conference as the preview model, which playable, was unveiled. As pictured on the right, the model features a clamshell design with two screens, which can be used to show different info or act as two screens for the same visuals (as in a top portion and bottom portion). Nintendo was quick to state that the DS model on show was not the finalized version and the name may even see a change before the product's launch.

The system will feature two backlit screens, six buttons and the lower screen will even be touch-sensitive. Yep, you read that correctly. As with previous handhelds, the DS will feature backwards compatibility. It will also feature wireless multiplayer.

When it comes to graphics, the handheld shows off some great power, producing N64-looking games that look crisp and clean. At the show, Nintendo showed off a ton of tech demos that really show a great range of versatility that the handheld is capable of, proving that once again Nintendo is trying to push the inventive envelope.

When it comes to games for the portable, there were already titles on show, including offerings from Namco (Pac-Pix, Pac'n Roll), Konami (Yu-Gi-Oh!: Nightmare Troubador), Bandai (Mobile Suite Gundam Seed), Square Enix (Egg Monster Hero), Hudson (Bomberman), and Nintendo (DS Picto Chat, WarioWare Inc. DS, Super Mario 64 4x4, and Metroid Prime Hunters).

With all this to show, Nintendo's new handheld looks to be poised to really give Nintendo a fresh new stance in the handheld market.

PlayStation Portable (PSP)

To compete with Nintendo's impressive showing, Sony finally showed off their own entry into the portable gaming market. And, I must say that it's a very impressive showing. The handheld, shown at the right, features a 16:9 widescreen running in full color (16.77 million colors) at a 480x272 resolution. For those interested in the power in the unit, the handheld with feature 32 MB of main memory, 4 MB of DRAM, and come with a wireless port, USB, and comes with a rechargeable Lithium Ion battery, said to be good for 10 hours of play time and 2.5 hours of video time. Sony has already stated that an external battery is in development for longer periods of playtime.

To show off the video capability of the unit, Sony showed a Spider-Man 2 trailer and footage from Final Fantasy VII: Advent Children. Both looked exceptionally crisp and clean, as if running on a small HDTV. For those wondering what the games will play on, check out the Universal Media Disc (UMD), which is capable of storing 1.8 GB of data. There is also a place for a memory stick. Control-wise, the PSP features a D-Pad, analog stick, four face buttons and two shoulder buttons.

And, what's a Sony piece of hardware without accessories? The PSP will come with a landslide of extras to buy including a stand, infrared remote control, headphones, case, USB Camera, GPS Add-on, key-pad and GPRS Add-on, which provides cell-phone like qualities to the unit.

Of course, when it comes to games, people are going to ask: "What do they look like?" In all honesty, the games look pretty comparable to the current generation of PS2 games. While most of the stuff show was mere glimpses of promised upcoming titles, the few shots we got, especially of the new Metal Gear Solid title, looks exceptional for a handheld. And, when it comes to packaging, check out the pic to the right for a mocked-up look at what the PSP game package may look like.

For the PSP, developers are already lining up to put their games on the device. A list of developers, which seems like a mile long, has already surfaced, including Atlus, Capcom, Nippon Ichi, Konami, Namco, Sega, Square Enix, Activsion, Atari, Betheda and Rockstar to name a small few. While very few games were officially announced, a number of familiar properties were shown to be coming to the handheld, including Ape Escape, Dynasty Warriors, Medieval, Metal Gear Solid, NBA Street, Need for Speed Underground, NFL Street, Tony Hawk's Pro Skater, Twisted Metal and Wipeout. Capcom has already stated that they want to port both Devil May Cry and Viewtiful Joe to the handheld.

For a good idea of how this handheld looks, console and gamewise, check out the preview video at Gamespot.

- - Kinderfeld

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