The Geek Refuge

Tuesday, April 25, 2006

The Handheld Wars: DS vs. PSP

So, when it comes to the newest and best in handheld gaming technology, your have two options: Nintendo's DS and Sony's PSP. They are both very different in many ways, and many gamers are unsure which one to go with. Luckily, I have both, so maybe I can shed some light on your portable gaming quandaries! Thus begins another recurring segment for TGR: "The Handheld Wars". This feature will focus on the portable gaming market, and will aim to keep you updated on what is new, what is to come, and where you should spend your cash. It seems only logical to begin with the systems themselves, and so we have today's post: DS vs. PSP.

I bought my Electric Blue NDS back in December, taking advantage of Target's online ad misprint. For $99, it was a steal! I also grabbed Super Mario 64 DS and Castlevania: Dawn of Sorrow. I bought my PSP two weeks ago from Best Buy; my purchase included the core system, a replacement plan, an accessory kit, Daxter, and The Family Guy: Seasons 1 & 2 UMD.

To start, let's talk aesthetics. Sony wins this category hands down. The DS simply does not look good, as it is bulky and uninteresting. The PSP, however, is sleek and impressive to look at; the 4.3" HD Widescreen takes up much of the front of the system. The PSP just oozes next-gen hotness. None of my friends at work seemed impressed by their first look at my DS; the PSP was admired by many. So, superficially, Sony wins. But, with the soon-to-come release of the DS Lite, the PSP may have a fight on their hands in this category.....

Next, we should consider ergonomics. The DS, in my opinion, loses here again. The bulkiness is problematic, and for me and my big hands, using the stylus on the touch screen is cumbersome at best. Also, the Power button is in a terrible place, as I have confused it with the Start button a few times, and powered off the system mid-game. I just like the PSP' setup better. Granted, the PSP's design mirrors the PS2 controller to a large degree, and I am very familiar with the dual shock setup. It was an easy crossover for me. Even saying that though, the PSP just feels better. I like it much more. Heavier, but easier to use.

When we talk about graphics, Nintendo must cringe, as they simply cannot compete with Sony in this category. However, Nintendo did not design the PSP to be a graphical juggernaut; rather, they focused on gameplay and innovation. They succeed in that aspect, but we'll talk about that later. Nintendo's leaders do not feel that graphics matter, but I must disagree. Although it may be entirely shallow, how a game looks matters to consumers. That is why we all ooooh and aaaah over next-gen screenshots and videos, right? I'll go ahead and say it: the PSP looks amazing! I can't get over how beautiful everything is, from the games to the menus, to the PSP interface itself. Impressive, to say the least. The graphics, compared to the PS2, are quite nice. Imagine, if you will, a graphical PS1.9; that is where the PSP falls. Almost as good as the PS2, but not quite. However, graphics that good on a handheld system can be breathtaking at times. You must see it to fully understand. All the internet videos in the world don't do it justice!

Enough Sony-touting, let us see what Nintendo DID do right. Innovation is the key concept when you look at the DS. With the dual screens, and one of them being a touch screen, Nintendo has positioned themselves to introduce many new and different kinds of gaming. In fact, they have already done this to a degree. The newest Metroid title is a FPS, where you use the touch screen to aim, and double-tap to shoot. Castlevania uses the stylus to draw symbols that vanquish bosses once they are weakened. Warioware: Touched! uses the stylus to perform a slew of mini-games. I think the touch screen has yet to see any real innovation, but what has been done thus far is nice. Sony's PSP is falling behind in the creativity section: it's more of a conglomeration of other portable devices and a home console. However, this is also it's strong point. On that note.....

The DS is limited in it's capabilities outside of gaming. So far, that is all you can do with it. The PSP, however, is far more diverse. It's basically a gaming system, internet browser, MP3 player, and video/DVD player all rolled into one. Sony has always shot more for the all-inclusive media center ideology, while Nintendo seems determined to not branch out from gaming. Focus is always nice, but I wonder if Nintendo is missing out on a large market this way.

Two more categories to consider: games and price. The games category is hard to judge, because it depends do heavily on what you like personally. Nintendo has some good games, but nothing I can't live without. They do, however, have many more original games than the PSP does. The PSP has quite a few console ports, which can be good or bad, depending on who is playing. I like the idea of console games on-the-go, and don't care too much for the currently available DS games. I am, however, thrilled to hear that a new Zelda game is in the works for the DS. It looks really interesting. Anyway, for me, the PSP game library is far more interesting. I think everyone can agree that the PSP repertoire has grown by leaps and bounds lately. And if you'll take a glance at a list of upcoming PSP titles, you'll see some games to really be excited about. Power Stone Collection and Monster Hunter Freedom are two gems that will surely rock.

Finally, let's talk about price. DS: $129.99. PSP: $199.99. $70 difference, and I think it is worth it. 70 bucks gets you an MP3 player, a movie player, and an internet browser. The games for the PSP cost more (most of the time), but I like them better, so I don't mind.

To summarize, I think the PSP is a far superior handheld. For my personal tastes, it is almost perfect. Plus, Sony releases periodic firmware upgrades that improve upon the system's capabilities. The upcoming 2.7 upgrade includes Flash capabilities (online arcade games, anyone?), RSS channel functionality for saving internet audio to your memory stick, and support for the AAC audio format. In case you are unaware, that is the iTunes (Apple) format, so that should make you iPod owners happy. I bought both systems, and I love the PSP much more than the DS. Not that the DS isn't good, mind you; on the contrary, it is quite good. But, for me, it cannot compare to Sony's portable beast.

Winner: Sony PSP.


Blogger The Grand Poobah said...

All I got to say is ROAD RAGE!!!

9:24 AM  
Blogger Ender said...

Aha! The Poobah lives!

2:55 PM  
Blogger Ross said...

The reasons why I simply like the DS more is that all I'm looking for is a quality handheld system. The PSP may look good and all, but it has simply too many ports of games that are superior on the current-gen consoles. Also, I'm a sucker for innovation as well, another place where the DS outshines PSP. Plus, I love how the prices on DS are cheaper, but I still think its simply a better quality machine. Just my opinion

5:52 PM  
Blogger Tomleecee said...

The price difference between the two (£65 DS vs £179 PSP) means I'd probably get a DS if I was going to buy either.

3:21 PM  
Blogger Mana Knight said...

Very well said. I read it all and agreed 100% with what you said. I like my DS also, but I just don't find the games as appealing to me, compared to PSP games.

8:54 AM  

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