The PSP, the portable console that really failed to catch a audience in the west. In this article I come out and defend the poor console which seems to receive a surprising amount of hate in the gaming community. Ok, so the little analogue nub is a bit irritating and the battery life is a bit naff and there are some questionable models of the console that are just flat out awful.
A little background on my experience with the console. I avoided this system like some handheld plague mostly due to the horrific world of mouth the console received from my brother who owed the system as well as the gaming media itself. Its not hard to find some entertaining YouTube video that pokes fun at the attempts Sony made to market the system and how it was destroyed by the Nintendo DS in sales. Anyway, one fateful day I was visiting my parents and on clearing some junk from my old bedroom I came across my brothers PSP model 1000 which was so unloved it was shoved behind the radiator and just left there. Since by this stage in my life I was doing incredibly long commutes on the train on a daily basis which would take up to five hours of my day I was desperate to fill the void of boredom. IOS games at this stage were starting to be a big thing but they just didn’t do it for it. Try playing Bejewelled for 5 hours, you will have the most creepy nightmares you never thought possible, or maybe that’s just me. So I refurbished the poor PSP, gave it a new battery, brought a large memory card off ebay at a incredibly cheap price and then proceeded to load the system with PSone nostalgia. I owned a lot of games already as I owned a PS3 by this point. From there the rest is history, my train commutes suddenly flew by as I listened to podcasts and played PSP. Some time later I managed to acquire a red PSP model 3000 which is lighter and just runs better. I also started to enjoy games for the console itself as opposed to just sticking to the oldies. Despite owning a Psvita I still find myself reaching for the console everytime I go away, have work trips or just want to play on the sofa while my partner waches something on telly. So yeah I dig the PSP
Even with more modern handhelds now on the market like IOS and android mobiles, the 3DS and even PSVita, let’s see if I can convince you that the PSP is a console still worth adding to your retro collection.
Number One: It’s very cheap right now
As most collectors know the consoles go through their traditional pricing cycle. They start expense and with time slowly get cheaper, then once the console and games start to become uncommon the price begins to rise. Well collectors the prime time is now to nab the PSP deals at most retailers are selling the consoles and even the games for a very cheap price to make room for the new consoles like the PS4 and Xbox One. Car boots, charity shops, Craigs list are more stocked with the system and games because for similar reasons people are getting rid of stuff to make room for the new. This is especially the prime time to pick up those rarer games like RPGs before they spike in price.
Number Two: Games for every gamer type
Something that really stands out on the PSP over other platforms is just how unique a lot of the games are and how wide spread the genres are. There really is something for every gamer here, you won’t see tons of FPS here flooding the catalogue. Yes, a lot of the games are dumbed down ports available on better systems at the time but believe it or not some PS2 games were ports of PSP games.
Crisis Core: Final Fantasy 7 – action RPG
Disgaea series -JRPG
Silent Hill Origins –survival horror
Lumines – Music Puzzler
Motorstorm: Artic Edge – Racing
Daxter – Platformer
Resistance: Retribution – Third person shooter
Patapon – Rhythm Strategy
Half Minute Hero – Awesome speedy RPG (probably my favourite game on the console)
There are a surprising amount of hidden gems on the consoles too. There are many experimental games on the consoles that developers took a chance on before deciding whether they were worth releasing on other consoles. Since the console obviously didn’t do that well most these games never saw a console release leaving a huge catalogue of hidden gems you can only find on this device.
Number Three: Its like a portable PSone
Though I understand graphics are not everything especially when it comes to retro gaming. My nostalgia for this system reminds me very much of the launch of the PSone. Yes I am aware the PSone slim had a LCD attachment turning the system into a kinda portable device. Here in the UK I have never seem anyone lug around a Psone. The PSP was one of the first handhelds to do 3D gaming well and it looked amazing on a portable device. Of course compared to consoles they did not look amazing. But it was different and stood out as something a bit different especially when compared to the handhelds main competition the Nintendo DS. It really felt like you were playing a more refined PSone in your hand. Some will debate the graphics at times are on par with even the PS2 but that is very much up for debate.
Number Four: Load up on those games for on the go. Good times!
This probably speaks more to those who travel a lot like myself. One of my favourite things about the PSP is you can shove a massive memory card in it for a small price (I go for the 32Gb) and then you can just download literally tons of games onto it. Yes the Playstation store is now dead on the PSP and you no longer go to the store to buy games but if you own a PS3 or PSVita and buy any PSP compatible game through the store you can still download it to the PSP. For reasons unknown there is still some PSone titles that are compatible with the PSP and not the PSVita. I have over thirty PSone games that are ready to play all loaded on the PSP so if I have a long journey, or I am going away on holiday I know I will unlikely be bored as I have plenty of choice from the download catalogue. Also if you are good with emulation this system is widely considered one of the best handhelds to play emulated games on having hundreds of games at your disposal. Emulation also allows you to play games from other systems like the Mega Drive/Genesis and the SNES.
Number Five: That cool standby feature
This point is so awesome it deserves its own spot. By far one of my favourite things about this system is how you can literally pause whatever you’re doing in any game at any time by flipping the standby switch on. Say you have to change trains, take a phone call, go to work whatever. You can leave the PSP in your bag for several hours and continue exactly where you left off later. This feature alone has allowed me to replay games like Final Fantasy 7 and other long games which have awkward save features all the way through without having to turn the system off early because something has come up. Imagine you’re on the last boss or watching some stupidly long cutscene but you have to go because something came up this feature saves your bacon. Of course this feature has become more popular in more handheld devices like the 3DS and continues to be a feature on the PSvita but it’s certainly a lesson the modern consoles can learn from.
So there are a few points I missed about the system such as it can play movies and music. To be honest most of that stuff is not what retro gamers look for in a system and a lot of the features such as the Playstation store and viewing comic books have now been shut down on the system.
At the end of the day the system stands out as very unique by itself. If you’re a fan of the PSone era of gaming this system is an absolute must. To most gamers I recommend the system the same why I got into it, find a cheap model, test the water with the games and let the good gaming times roll. Maybe I convinced you, but more likely I probably displayed what a fan boy I am for the forgotten portable.
There are a handful of games out there that are almost universally loved by gamers. Off the top of my head, two of these titles are Deus Ex and Skyrim, and the one thing they have in common is that they successfully blend the first-person perspective and elements from RPGs into a cohesive experience. Oddly enough, when we look back at the history of gaming you rarely have anyone mention Strife: Quest for Sigil, developed by Rogue Entertainment. It was one of the earliest games to combine these genres and it differentiated itself from many of its hybrid peers in that the game focused almost exclusively on gameplay and hid items like the map and the character’s inventory from the main HUD. The end result was a large field of view for the player and it all looked a lot less busy than the games that came before it. This probably had to do with the use of the Doom engine, but regardless of why this title utilizes the full screen for your adventuring or decided to rely much more heavily on combat than any other aspect is irrelevant. Strife did it and it did it well.
The basic premise of the game is that you play a mercenary in a time where a religious cult, The Order, has oppressed a society and is converting humans into cyborgs. Macil, a leader of the rebels combating this takeover, has hired you to seek out pieces of The Sigil, an artifact that can apparently rid the world of The Order. In the game you move about a central town hub, taking missions as you go, to continue this larger quest by going to branching levels. It has a surprising commonality to the way open world titles work today, although it of course modern games aren’t as transparent as they were back then. Each of these levels are diverse in terms of the look and scope of the area, but given that this title is from 1996 and confined to the limitations of the Doom engine, you will find little more than empty areas or a handful of enemies everywhere you quest. This also creates a more binary system as to how to handle each mission – to get the items that make up each quest requires you to either kill someone or attempt to talk them into giving it over, and then usually kill them when they react by attacking you. Your ability to speak with everyone in the game, many of them having different dialogue options, is alone a unique factor of any Doom clone of the time and I remember that it was mind blowing back then. Sure, often times not much comes of it, but I still take solace in a title that is focusing more on the plot and characters in it rather than simply making you a floating gun with killing as your sole purpose. Strife may not be doing a whole lot more than other shooters of the time, but it’s sure trying to hide that fact behind a lot of intriguing concepts.
That said it is still confined to the limitations and tropes of the time period it released. You will be exploring areas that have far too much real estate for the task at hand, the game will allow you to go anywhere (which includes backtracking an entire level) and waste hours searching a non-specific objective, and you can get into missions where your resources are too low and unless you have an earlier bailout save you might be stuck indefinitely. There’s even a red herring in the beginning of the game that if you collect it your progress is halted for the rest of the campaign (see our quick look video on how to avoid that). Some of these flaws can be a deal breaker if you’re not ready to put up with aspects that were commonplace almost two decades ago, and it’s a far stretch to say the average Skyrim fan will find a connection here. If you want to see the building blocks of modern titles and you can set your expectations appropriately, you may very well find a gem in Strife, especially if you found the more complex Deus Ex tolerable nowadays.
Publisher Night Dive Studios has updated this title and given it digital distribution on Steam in the new Veteran Edition, but this is an updated version of the original title and not a remaster or remake in any way. On Steam the game even lists 1996 as its release date, which is a touch that I was thankful to see. Most of the changes made are to allow you to play Strife on modern systems with little or no issues, and my Windows 7 64-bit modern rig booted it right up without so much as a hiccup. Now you can play the game in higher resolutions (like 1080p) and with that comes a widescreen format that does a great job of adapting the view without everything looking stretched. Night Dive didn’t stop there, Strife: Veteran Edition now adds lighting effects, texture options, anti aliasing, a choice between DirectX and OpenGL (and V-Sync), controller support (worked with 360 controller seamlessly), and the completion of a multiplayer mode. Don’t worry if you want to go all old school and have it look and act like the classic title, there is a classic mode that even re-introduces game bugs, so you too are covered. For those that have ever tried to screw around with DOSbox and other solutions to play Strife, it’s great to have a version that just works like all your other Steam games, and this is a particular perk for those of us who force gamepads upon all of our PC titles. It looks great, it runs great, and it feels great. If you want to play this game today, this is the version to have.
Strife did not get its day in the sun and while it was a somewhat innovative product of its time, there’s no incredible reason to pick it up now unless you want to peer into the golden days of modern game design. That’s not to say it isn’t significant, but that it skates the line of nostalgia and the ability to be appreciated by contemporary audiences. If you give it a chance, Strife has some fun times and impressive moments both in gameplay and plot that make saving the oppressed from The Order compelling, but if you need it to forget the time it came from and rise above the hassle, this won’t be for you. Strife: Veteran Edition makes replaying this game about as easy as it’s going to get, provided you remember that this still has the Doom engine as its platform. I don’t think it will get more appreciation now than it did back then, but hopefully it will find an endearing experience to budding gamers and those that let it pass the first time.
Final Score: 3 out of 5 (review policy)
Strife Veteran Edition was provided to our site via a Steam code from publisher Night Dive Studios. It was played for approximately twelve hours and the campaign can take as much as 20+ hours to complete depending on the player and whether or not you use a guide. Strife: Veteran Edition can be purchased on Steam for a current retail price of $9.99.
Today we look at the recently released Strife: Veteran Edition from Rogue Software. This game pre-dates many of the most popular games today that utilize both FPS and RPG elements as well as mild stealth themes. If you’re a fan of Thief, Deus Ex, or even Skyrim, you might want to check out this archaic but fun title. This is merely the first 90 minutes or so of gameplay with running commentary from Fred, expect a full review later today.
Viewer Warning: There may be occasional adult language from commentary/gamplay and consistent graphic violence depicted in gameplay.
Recently I’ve seen a disturbing trend with contemporary console gamers, which is the hatred of console exclusives. I don’t get this. I get that there’s almost no reason to do so because from a business standpoint the publisher wants a game as available as possible, the developer definitely wants as many gamers to get their hands on the game and enjoy the fruits of its labors, and gamers definitely want everything available to them. I also know that most gamers hate to hear about all the development studios that close on an annual basis and if the console exclusivity amounts mitigate or remove the risk of releasing a new game, I can admit I would probably “sell out” too. There are also benefits to exclusivity that can include getting the highest quality game for that console because all resources will be dedicated to that single piece of hardware and lets not forget the fact that in cases like Bayonetta 2, it was the only way certain games would see the light of day. Without third party exclusives there’s little that differentiates these consoles from one another – don’t get into that stupid “who has more ‘p’s debate” either, I can’t stand it and almost no one can visually see the difference. If we get more third party console exclusives we may also get more games coming out because development studios don’t have to worry about supporting each and every version that releases and can move onto the next big project without worrying about those first month sales.
There was a time when third party exclusives were an ongoing way of life. My cousin wanted to play Mortal Kombat with blood just as much as I wanted to play Super Mario World, but the reality was we just had to deal with the hardware we had. Aladdin was different on the Genesis and the SNES and to this day can spark an unwinnable debate that will go for hours. In the end the purpose for the argument, and most likely what side you are on, has to do with which one you played growing up. It all makes business sense when you think about it. Microsoft wants Rise of the Tomb Raider so that in fall 2015 they can compete with Uncharted 4 just as Sony hedges its bets on the fighter community with Street Fighter V while Microsoft tries to close its grip on first person shooters with Titanfall. It keeps things interesting coming off of the nearly identical worlds that were the late Xbox 360 and Playstation 3 days. Lets face it, those two consoles were nearly identical in the end, with your preference coming down to trivial facts like which one still worked or which one was hooked up to your main television. I don’t like that, I want differentiation. Give me exclusive content, give me exclusive games, give me sides to pick when deciding which is best. This is exclusivity.
I know many will complain that they cannot afford to purchase multiple consoles and that plenty others will argue that gamers should be able to play whatever they want provided the hardware can sustain it, but if that was true you may risk to see the end of competition. The Playstation 4 had a clear lead over the Xbox One right out of the gate and that lead has continued for nearly the last year, so if it weren’t for console exclusives and the need to push into the marketplace, the Xbox One would be forced out and you would have to play every game on a Playstation 4. I don’t like that, especially because as of late I’m growing more fond of my Xbox One (I own both). Also, what’s to get you to buy an Xbox One if all of the games are on PS4? Before the majority group, PS4 owners, gets all snarky and asks what’s wrong with that, realize that if that logic held true you would have no Playstation 4 because the Playstation 3 would have been forced out of the market by the Xbox 360 long ago. Competition is good, exclusivity is good, and gaming is better for it. Keep that in mind every time you jump into an online board and complain that it’s the worst thing in the world that your console isn’t getting a game you want. Without that fact, we wouldn’t have competition.
This week Fred and Jam are throwing around fighters of the 90s (that aren’t Street Fighter II or Tekken, we did a show for those already). In the 1990s, the fighter genre was the most popular type of game available (like First Person Shooters today), and among those that have withstood the test of time there were plenty of others that played the field. From Mortal Kombat to Soulcalibur you had plenty of arcades (and home ports) to drink your quarters in arcades.
Over the Thanksgiving holiday Fred and his brother-in-law Brian sat down and played/streamed 14 glorious hours of the N64 classic Conker’s Bad Fur Day. It was a grueling battle and the boys vowed to use no faqs/walkthroughs/guides, which accounts for the long play time. Well now that all is said and done, this is the outcome: a 3 hour video filled with snarky remarks, alcohol use (in game and by the duo players), and some of the most outrageous moments in gaming. Enjoy!
And for those masochists that just want to watch all 14 hours, we’ve added those too.
This week Fred and Jam are joined by Andy from 42 Level One to celebrate the 20th Anniversary of the Sony Playstation. This CD based console is responsible for so much ushering into the next iteration of game development, hardware, media, and game libraries. It touched each host in his own way and deserves to be celebrated on its second decade of existence.
Sorry this is going up on Sunday night. Normally Retro Game Night is recorded on Friday and goes up Saturday morning, but we had to delay recording a day and these HD videos take a lot longer to render and post to YouTube. Either way, the video speaks for itself, but Fred got a retail copy of Resident Evil HD Remaster on PS3 that will be coming to the US in “early” 2015 (according to Capcom). Well since there was another option, we grabbed it early. Enjoy!