Greetings and hello, newcomers and old readers alike. Perhaps you fall somewhere in the middle of those two extreme demographic ranges. Maybe you are a snow crab fisherman in your 40s, visiting relatives in New Zealand. These are only a handful of things that I have no way of knowing, because WordPress doesn’t have a demographic option in their statistics.
A few weeks ago, actually come to think of it, almost a month and a half ago, I left for a vacation down to North Carolina spanning about six days through Memorial Day. Days before I left, I discovered something about myself, and that’s that I might want a PSP. All because I had stumbled upon some Final Fantasy VII discussion, and someone mentioned a mysterious game I had never heard of: Final Fantasy VII: Crisis Core. Only available on the PSP.
Ah, but the PSP may have fallen under your radar as well! So, what’s a PSP?
The PSP, of course, is none other than Sony’s first foray into the handheld gaming business. The Playstation Portable was released in 2005 in the west, and was the first real competitor that Nintendo ever faced with their portable lineup. Looking at modern times, the Vita and the 3DS may be rivals, or at least they were several years ago when they first launched, but both seemed to target very different player demographics. I believe this was the same case as the PSP and the Nintendo DS back in 2005.
While I was in my unofficial, unintentional hiatus from Nintendo around that time, I didn’t play the Nintendo DS very much, and the PSP itself didn’t even appear on my radar, as I was far more focused on PC gaming.
Isn’t it funny how years later, something can suddenly appear in front of you, and you can only ask, “where have you been all my life?”
It happened with the 3DS two years ago. Then about a year ago with the Vita. Here we are, for the third year in a row, and I find myself owning a beautiful, shiny blue PSP!
At the time of release, dedicated handhelds had been failing left and right, beginning with the Neo Geo Pocket and ending with the Nokia N-Gage. Perhaps being hindered by poor battery life running underpowered mobile-grade graphical processors, it would seem like anything new on the market was doomed to an early demise. However, it’s not surprising to see how, given the graphical processing prowess that still holds up today in 2017, the PSP broke the trend of dedicated handhelds crashing and burning.
It boasted multimedia capabilities and impressive, console-quality games on a handheld. What wasn’t to love?
Well for one, the games came on a strange new medium dubbed the UMD, or Universal Media Disc, a mini-CD wrapped inside of a chunk of ugly plastic that made quite the racket when the games were loading. Now, years later, and you’ll be hard-pressed to find a used PSP with a fully functional set of features, UMD drive failure being one of the most common occurences. It turns out, heavily complicating the mechanical process of reading a game disc on a device that can potentially take some abuse isn’t the greatest idea.
Then of course, there was the issue of the proprietary memory cards.
Do you see the recurring theme here? Sony really sucks when it comes to making business decisions about storage. They don’t learn at all, do they?
There were some other issues with the PSP, but overall it still performed quite well, contrary to the Vita of years later.
Fast forward to the present, and there I sat, on my laptop, minutes away from loading up the truck and heading down the coast on vacation, staring at eBay auctions. I had stumbled into a rabbit hole of dirt cheap complete-in-box games for the PSP, a system that at the time, I didn’t even own. These things were between $3 and $5, shipped.
But what if they all sell out before I find a PSP? These are actually thoughts that go through my head. Collecting games is addicting.
I restrained myself enough and managed to squeeze out an order of three games, the existence of two of them I had only just learned about minutes before my fiancée pulled me out the door to begin the 9 hour drive. One of those three was Crisis Core, so I was set. I just, you know, needed to find a PSP.
“Maybe I can find one in North Carolina? I heard they have stores down there.”
While on vacation, I happened to mention to my in-laws that I collect human remains and turn their severed limbs into lampshades to sell on Etsy. Or at least that’s what you’d think I said based on their reaction when I told them that I collect and play old video games.
Listen – I’ve made the tragic mistake of telling people about my hobbies, and the video game one really takes people for a whirl sometimes. It seems this is the typical reaction from people who have never been exposed to video games when they learn that, yes, indeed, not just small children enjoy interactive entertainment on a screen.
Hey, here’s a good time for a side note! Take it from me – don’t be a hero. Keep that stuff to yourself, unless you’re feeling up to the task of defending your hobby of gaming. Be warned that to the uninitiated, video games have been set in their mind as being an activity for little children. I’m a very multi-faceted guy, and I do a ton of activities. I’m an active dude, I spend the vast majority of my time in the gym, cycling, taking care of myself, and I love doing stuff. Gaming is my activity when the weather’s bad and the sun is down. So you can imagine my frustration when I need to defend one of the things I spend the least amount of time doing. It’s just never worth mentioning. More on that another time.
Fortunately, some of the younger members of my in-laws totally got it, and were completely hooked playing Mario Kart 8 Deluxe on the Switch that I brought with me, and the conversation eventually changed over to what kind of games I collected. When I mentioned the classic PSP, they informed me of a store nearby that sold all kinds of old games and systems. I just had to check it out.
The next day we headed over to a used bookstore called Edward McKay and I was hit with a blast from the past – this place was loaded with all manner of games from yesteryear. While their “more” retro collections were mysteriously absent, I was happy to see a nice chunky shelf filled with PSP games. I went on a bit of a shopping spree and picked up a few games that I had either heard of, or were simply too good of a price to pass up. Again, I limited myself to three games, but most of them were simply games I couldn’t see myself being interested in.
All in all, this trip to Edward McKay brought the total number of games to six, but still, I didn’t have a PSP!
Still, the games graced my shelf, protected by Cloud himself.
After returning home from our vacation, I was treated to all manner of packages on my doorstep, and the bummer that resulted from my realization that I would be unable to play them.
As Edward McKay’s didn’t have anything in stock, I once again took to eBay. It even got desperate as I took a trek down to J&L Games, who boast an incredible collection and everything you can ever imagine, paired with the absolute worst and most downright insulting prices you’ve ever seen for any products, ever, in the history of stores.
I had it narrowed down to a few options on eBay, but the issue was that I couldn’t decide on waiting until my honeymoon to Japan (update: we’re not even going to Japan anymore!) to try to pick one up, or to just import one from there, since the prices are far more palatable. There was also the option of picking a color, of which there are so many good ones, that was making everything difficult. Trying to balance color, condition, functionality, and price was proving to be tricky.
After watching a few auctions come and go, I finally found something worth buying: blue console, functional UMD drive, no missing parts, and minimal scratches. I hit Buy it Now and pulled the trigger. A mere two weeks later and I had a package at my door.
I know you all know the feeling of opening a long-awaited package, but to tell you the truth the two weeks wasn’t even bad considering it came from Hong Kong. I gently opened the box with my trusty box cutter to reveal the contents within…
…and what I found, was stunningly gorgeous.
The condition was simply everything I could have hoped for. Tiny bit of scratches and the buttons needed a good cleaning. Nothing a little Lysol can’t solve!
But no matter, I fired up Crisis Core and got down to business, making sure it all ran correctly.
And there you have it. I finally have a working PSP! Naturally, I needed to get a stand for it right away from Rose Colored Gaming.
Overall, I’m extremely happy with this new addition to my handheld collection. The PSP certainly passed me by, as did all the games that came out around that time, but I’m looking forward to getting into it in a big way, just like I eventually did with the DS, the 3DS, and most recently, the incredible Vita.
Part of the benefits to getting into systems years after they come out is simple: you have a huge archive of heavily discounted games, available everywhere, that retailers just want out of their store. eBay prices have plummeted for most PSP games, and that’s why I finally decided to get into collecting them. And also to match my beautiful Vita collection!
I hope that I enjoy my foray into PSP-land, the same way I did Vita Island. And of course, I hope you enjoyed reading about my adventures to secure one. In the future, once I finally get some breathing room to dive into the PSP, I’m planning on putting together a “thoughts on” type of piece about the general functionality on the system, as well as a little setup guide of how I got all of my games backed up so I can play them all from an SD card, and hopefully avoid the issue of UMD drive failure. Until next time!
Are you a fan of the Playstation Portable? What games do you recommend? Let me know in the comments!