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Game Buzz | Sony's NGP: First Reactions

Matt Gardner
Features, Game Buzz, NGP, PSP2, Sony

Finally, this week saw the lid blown off of the top of Sony's not-too-well-kept secret regarding its upcoming handheld device. Codenamed the 'NGP' we've already rounded up the early news and had a glimpse of what's to come. There's no indication as yet of when the portable console will come to light, Nintendo's 3DS dropping this March, of course, but one thing is for certain...the battle for portable gaming supremacy just got a lot more interesting.

Check out Matt, Jon and Tom's reactions to the newly proposed portable console and hit us up with your thoughts in the comments section below!


Once again, it would seem that Sony are going to deliver a device that gadget nuts have only previously pictured in their wildest mechanical fantasies. Stuffed with technology, pulsating with power, the NGP has gone and stolen a whole bunch of Nintendo's thunder with its toweringly impressive specifications. Dual-sticks, a massive touchscreen, a rear trackpad, titanic TARDIS's of power in the CPU and GPU, accelerometers and cameras. You'd better keep it away from your other half when it comes out, because it'll almost invariably have sex with them such is its potency.


But is anyone else getting a massively strong sense of deja-vu? Nintendo, understandably, are pursuing something of a legacy with the 3DS. The clue is in the title. They got it pretty much bang-on with the laughably underpowered, but incredibly endearing, DS and the addition of increased power and glasses free 3D, not to mention that lovely analogue nub, is a logical extension. It looks planned.

By contrast, it kind of looks like Sony panicked and chucked literally every gadget they could find at the NGP.

Click here to see the rest of our reactions to the upcoming NGP...

From Sony's Affordable NGP To Fast-Tracked Heavy Rain - News Roundup 27th January 2011

Jonathan Lester
3DS, Games news, Heavy Rain, Kid Icarus, NGP, Nintendo, PSP2, Quantic Dream, Sony, Warner Bros, Zelda
Heavy Rain

PSP2/NGP Finally Unveiled; Will Be "Affordable"

Sony have finally announced the Next Generation Portable at their Tokyo press conference- and we're all over it. Check out our blowout feature for full details and specs! Further to this earlier roundup, SCEE head honcho Andy House has suggested that the NGP will be priced at a competitive level when it releases either later this year or early 2012 in Europe.

I can’t put a ballpark on it in terms of figures, but what I would say is that we will shoot for an affordable price that’s appropriate for the handheld gaming space.

However, House also suggested that Sony will be looking to make a profit on the device; as opposed to the initial loss made on each PS3 sale.

Really we would want to have our hardware be profitable, in addition to our software. We’ve experienced both sides and we know which one we like to be on!

Naturally we'll keep you up to date with the latest on the NGP as well as any hint of RRP. [Eurogamer, VT via Videogamezone.de]

Heavy Rain Film Fast-Tracked

heavy rain

Oh boy. For reasons beyond mortal comprehension, Quantic Dream's interactive movie is being crunched into a shorter, non-interactive movie with David Milch (Deadwood, NYPD Blue) charged with adapting the script. Warner Bros has "fast-tracked" production, meaning that Milch will start scribbling as soon as he's finished the first season of his current HBO series.

The way I see things, isn't it about time that games and films stopped cribbing off each other... and attempt to tell different parts of the same canon instead? Let's hope Guillermo del Toro's inSANE franchise will do just that. [EG]

Do we need a Heavy Rain movie? Drop us a line in the comments!

3DS: Zelda & Kid Icarus Delayed Past E3

zelda 3ds

Ouch. On the same day that the 3DS' main rival makes its grandstand appearance, we've learned that two of its most important games will miss the launch window by a long way. In an interview with MTV, Ninty America boss Reggie Fils-Aime confirmed that the new Kid Icarus and the sublime Zelda: Ocarina Of Time will not release until late June at the earliest.

Mario, Zelda, all of those titles are coming. From our perspective, we like to launch titles when they're ready. And so they'll be ready, they'll be ready soon. Just not in that initial time period of late March to early June. - Reggie Fils-Aime

This might just put a few potential early adopters off a preorder. [MTV Multiplayer]

Brink Dated For May

brink news banner

I absolutely adored Brink when I tried it out last August- and am delighted to report that it will be hitting European shores on May 20th. [Bethesda]

Why not check out our hands-on preview and developer interview?

PSP2: Sony's NGP Announced | First Look Roundup

Jonathan Lester
Announcement, Call Of Duty, LittleBigPlanet, Megaton, News, NGP, Playstation Suite, PSP2, Sony, Uncharted

ngp big banner

As promised, the 27th of January has finally rolled around... and Sony have blown the lid clean off of the PSP2 during their Japanese press conference. Months of leaks, theories and gossip have all led up to today- and in case you didn't stay up to watch the announcements live, here's everything you need to know!

The PSP2 is dead. Long live the NGP! For now.

First things first. Sony have confirmed that the new handheld has been codenamed the NGP, which stands for Next Generation Portable. The PSP2 branding may return at a later date, but it's likely that Sony are looking into distancing their latest device from previous hardware with a new brand identity. NGP is almost certainly a placeholder, but that's what we're going to call it for now.

Does anyone else find it odd that NGP also stands for NeoGeo Pocket? I'm not suggesting that there's a comeback conspiracy, but... wait, that's exactly what I'm saying.

The Specs

ngp front on

Here it comes: it's specifications time. Rather than a massive text dump, we've done our best to trim it down to the pertinent details that you need to know.

  • CPU: ARM CortexTM-A9 core (4 core)
  • GPU: SGX543MP4+
  • Screen: 5 inches (16:9), 960 x 544, Approx. 16 million colors, OLED
  • Input: Multi-touch screen, Rear touch pad, D-Pad, 2X Thumbsticks, Microphone
  • Motion Control: Six-axis motion sensing system (three-axis gyroscope, three-axis accelerometer), three-axis electronic compass
  • Cameras: Front camera, Rear camera
  • Wireless: 3G, Bluetooth
  • Other Features: Built-in GPS, Trophy Support
  • Storage and Media: Onboard hard drive, non-volatile removable media (thanks, Gunn)

ngp back

No real surprises here, but it's great to see the twin thumsticks confirmed at long last. The built-in GPS is also a nice touch. As rumoured, the form factor has reverted from a sliding panel to a single unit in order to house more effective fans and heat sinks.

As far as the rear multi-touch pad is concerned, Sony have announced that it's the same size as the screen and corresponds 1:1. It's up to developers to work out how to use it or ignore it completely.

Rumour: Eurogamer reports that maximum battery life may be in the region of 4-5 hours. Take what you want from that.

The Games: Uncharted! MGS! LBP! CoD!

Well, yeah. The Uncharted, Metal Gear Solid, Call of Duty and LittleBig Planet franchises will all make an appearance on the handheld- and will use the hardware to its full potential in terms of graphical output and motion control.

Sony have also confirmed a massive list of publishers who have signed up to support the device. You can read up on the full legion over at VG247, but it includes the likes of Capcom, Square, Activision and even the Oddworld lot.

This is absolutely key, folks. Make no mistake, Sony have to ensure that the PSP2 receives consistent third party support in order for it to succeed. This is a major step in the right direction.

Playstation Suite Will Deliver Games & Cloud Saves

playstation suite

This is probably the second biggest piece of news to come out of the press conference, though it's easily overlooked beneath the shiny games and specs. Sony will be rolling out a new digital content service entitled Playsation Suite, that will apparently deliver Playstation 1-2 games to Android devices and smartphones. What's more, cloud saves will also be supported, making it compatible with the NGP.

It will also provide a "new development environment," which we hope means that Sony will be encouraging Indie development to create smaller applications for microtransaction-style sales.

Playstation Suite is looking very suite indeed. We'll keep you posted.

From Pachter's Disappointment To The PSP2's Graphics - News Roundup 8th December 2010

Matt Gardner
Activision, Gran Turismo 5, Michael Pachter, News, PSP2, Sony, Tony Hawk
Gran Turismo 5

Pachter 'Disappointed' Activision Aren't Charging For Multiplayer


Speaking to Industry Gamers, everyone's favourite smug bastard analyst Michael Pachter has recently said that he was 'disappointed' not to have seen Activision charging a subscription rate for Black Ops' online multiplayer.

'We were disappointed to hear Activision’s new head of publishing flatly deny the company’s plans to charge for multiplayer,' said Pachter, allegedly tickling a feline's chin from the comforts of his underground lair. 'We firmly believe that until the publishers address monetization of multiplayer, game sales will continue to be challenged by the publishers’ altruistic decision to provide significantly more entertainment value per hour than ever in history.'

Of course, Activision Publishing's CEO Eric Hirshberg has already stated that it won't charge for Call of Duty's online content. 'Ever'. Poor Michael.

'In our view, monetization of multiplayer is one of the greatest opportunities for the publishers, and we think that it would be a serious strategic error to pass on this opportunity,' said the Wedbush Morgan analyst.

Speaking with his business hat squarely on, Pachter isn't really wrong. Online subscriptions would be an incredibly cynical but, also, profitable move. It would also be an enormous PR nightmare to charge for something that has been free up to this point. Restricting online content for second hand purchases is one thing. Making you pay for it out of a brand spanking new box is something completely different. [VG247]

GT5's B-Spec Mode Coming To A PC Near You...Eventually


Kaz Yamauchi is at it again, promising new and exciting things for Gran Turismo 5 fans everywhere on his Twitter account. Apparently 'early next year' you'll be able to monitor races from a web browser, issuing commands like 'overtake' and 'stop in the pits'. Your PS3 game will still need to be running, though, but it means you can multitask whilst managing a race, which is nice.

Fanboys rejoice! And don't be too hard on Yamauchi...he's very 'sorry to have kept you waiting'. [Kotaku]

Activision: Tony Hawk Still Relevant

Tony Hawk Ride

No, not the guy who hitch-hiked around Ireland with a fridge...Tony Hawk, professional skateboarder and Activision's trendy cash cow.

Apparently, even in the face of depressingly mediocre sales of latest game Tony Hawk's Shred, head of Activision Publishing  Eric Hirshberg maintains that 'Tony Hawk does really still have relevance and tremendous appeal for people'.

'He is a lasting icon,'  Hirshberg went on. 'He has that Michael Jordan-ish or Jordan-esque staying power, seemingly. And that doesn't mean that other great skaters haven't come up who are younger and more current, but he really is that kind of Mount Rushmore-level guy in that category, so that's not the issue.

'I think we have to ask all the smart questions and make some smart moves in terms of innovation to see if we can recapture people's imaginations.'

I think that making a game that works rather than spoiling a legacy by chasing after some high-end, peripheral-based cash, might have been a better p;an. Still, Activision expect Shred, which only sold about 3,000 copies in the US over October, to sell 'steadily' over the Christmas period. We rather expect it to get shredded. [IndustryGamers]

Report: PSP2 Capable Of PS3 Quality Graphics


We're going to believe it  when we see it, but according to a new report courtesy of IGN, the PSP2 will be able to reproduce graphics akin to those witness in PS3 games.

'As far as graphics are concerned,' IGN's report suggests, 'the PSP 2 is a beast, packing enough processing hardware to produce graphics comparable to early PlayStation 3 titles. The processor, we're told, is just over half as powerful as the PS3, though the specific framework of the cores and the clock speed was not revealed.

'While the device isn't as powerful as the PlayStation 3, its components should allow it to sufficiently play games of comparable graphical quality due to the fact that it is rendering to a smaller, lower-resolution display than a full 1080p HDTV.'

Their source also allegedly confirmed the leaked VG247 pics (one of which is seen above), which give us an inidcation of the current develomental state of the handheld console.

Naturally, we're a little excited; but, as the first PSP proved, power really isn't everything. If Sony give Nintendo too much of a headstart, as that man Pachter says, the PSP2 might find itself 'dead on arrival'. It'll be very interesting to see if it makes an appearance at E3 2011. [via Eurogamer]

From The Mecha MAWLR To Death On Arrival - News Roundup 6th November 2010

Jonathan Lester
Killzone 3, Kinect, MAWLR, Microsoft, News, PSP2, Sony
Killzone 3

Analyst: PSP2 & Handheld Market Is "Dead On Arrival"


Sigh. I usually endeavour to keep Wedbush Morgan's wannabe-celebrity out of our news roundups, but every 0nce in a while, Michael Pachter does make an interesting point that's worth expanding upon. Speaking in the latest episode of his Pach Attack show, he prophesied that the PSP2 will completely fail... as well as the entire portable market as we know it.

We’re way approaching saturation on the handheld market. We’re starting to see DS hardware sales crack, I think the big woody of the iPod Touch is cutting into the handheld market, I think the PSP is dead on arrival and I think the PSP2 is going to be dead on arrival.

Pachter joined the growing segment of the pundit community who believe that mobile gaming and app-style sales models will soon dominate the handheld market. Apparently even the 3DS will only enjoy a brief moment in the sun before competition from Apple drives it into obscurity.

It looks to me like young kids are just as happy playing with an iPod Touch or a Nano. The Touch is cool, it plays games, plays music, they’re going to put a camera in it and you’re going to get all kinds of cool stuff.

It's far too soon to tell whether the PSP2 will fail, but we all ought to be concerned about the state of the handheld market. Do you support a portable console... or do you have an app for that? Have your say in the comments!

Microsoft Denies Kinect Shortage Accusations

kinect sensor

The left hand doesn't seem to know what the right hand is up to. Despite claiming supply strains and crying wolf at every opportunity, Microsoft has now denied claims of artificially inducing a Kinect shortage this holiday season. According to Microsoft UK boss Neil Thompson, any problems are "a function of coming to market with a brand new innovation."

In an interview with GI, Thompson explained that Microsoft had the option between releasing in the new year with a supply surplus- missing Christmas in the process- or gearing up for a holiday season release and hoping that manufacuring would eventually catch up to demand.

We want to give people the product as soon as we can, but you can’t switch on the manufacturing like water. It takes time to scale. - Neil Thompson to GI

We'd be interested to know if you're having problems picking up a Kinect sensor... or if your local stores are full of 'em on the run up to Christmas.

Leaked Killzone 3 Footage Shows Epic Boss Battle

kz3 boss

Having played and previewed Killzone 3, we were more than a little excited about Guerrilla's upcoming FPS sequel... but a string of great holiday season releases knocked our enthusiasm off of the boil. Luckily, ten leaked minutes of singleplayer campaign footage has emerged and gotten us completely re-psyched. These ten minutes seem to be taken from somewhere in the middle of the game; featuring trench warfare, a little unimportant story and a massive boss battle with a honking great war machine. The titanic MAWLR is set to be a very nasty adversary...

This doesn't look like a final boss or anything particularly plot-related, but just in case, consider this a spoiler warning.

In other KZ3 news, analysis of the preview code suggests that split-screen multiplayer will be making an appearance in the final version. Which is good to know.

From PSP2 Photos To Johnny 5's Evil Twin - News Roundup 18th November 2010

Jonathan Lester
iPad, iPhone, Kinect, Lync, Microsoft, PSP2, RAGE: Mutant Bash TV, Robot, Sony

PSP2 Dev Kit Photos Confirm New Features

psp 2 dev kit

VG247 have snagged a series of photos displaying one of the PSP2 Dev kits... which means that we can confirm a whole raft of rumoured features.The pics may be grainy, but they clearly display the following:

  • Dual thumbsticks
  • D-Pad
  • Forward and rear-facing cameras
  • Large rear trackpad (visible on ventral view)
  • Microphone

Note that this is an early version with a 'sliding screen' form factor- though reports indicate that the later models will be a traditional single unit. This change in form factor is apparently due to major overheating in the prototype units, as we've previously reported. [Thanks, VG247]

What isn't visible is the data storage format. Our current bet is still on protected memory sticks and direct PSN downloads.

RAGE Mutant Bash Hits iPhones Today

We recently brought you the skinny on Mutant Bash, the id Tech 5-powered iPhone shooter that provides a first foray into the RAGE universe. It's a fast and furious arcade FPS that focuses on insane combat and crazy combos- and is now available to download for the bargain price of £1.19.

It's compatible with iPhones and the iPad, though it weighs in at a whopping 540MB.

Kinect Robots, Meetings & Shortages

kinect sensor

Microsoft's Motion Capture peripheral has been making a splash in our news roundups recently (as well as our full review), and we've got a few more Kinect updates for your delectation.

First of all, despite previously assuring us that Kinect's supply chain was "healthy," Microsoft has warned consumers that the Christmas sales window is closing rapidly. Xbox boss Don Mattrick suggests that you order the peripheral "by the end of this week” if you want it under the Christmas tree. The British supply seems to be fairly healthy at present (with many online retails still stocking for immediate delivery), but if you want to be sure, you might want to get your skates on. [Tech Crunch]

Microsoft has also confirmed that Kinect's video chat functionality will soon be integrated into Lync, their business video conferencing server. It can transmit and receive with PC users as well as the Windows Phone 7... meaning that tough hostile takeovers could be negotiated through a tense game of Rally Ball. [Games Industry]

Finally, Kinect's homebrewed PC drivers have reached a new level. The peripheral already looks like Johnny 5's evil twin... and Philipp Robbel, a student at MIT's Personal Robotics Group, has combined the gadget with a hacked Roomba to create a motion and depth sensing robot. I'll let the footage speak for itself.

Am I the only pundit who thinks that Microsoft isn't playing Kinect's hacked PC functionality to their advantage? The PC crowd represents an entirely new and unexpected target audience for the peripheral and could potentially provide an entirely new (not to mention profitable) commercial venture.

Want to weigh in on Kinect, hacking or awesome robots? Drop us a line in the comments!

From Inafune's Departure To The Sales War Update - News Roundup 29th October 2010

Jonathan Lester
5th Cell, Capcom, Games news, Hybrid, Keiji Inafune, Microsoft, PSP2, Rumour control, Sales, Sony, XBLA games

Mega Man/Dead Rising Creator Will Quit Capcom

inafune smile

Wow, it seems that grouchy old Keiji Inafune really wasn't kidding when he recently announced that he hated his job and wanted to retire. Writing on the blog of Capcom subsiduary Daletto, the vociferous developer explained that he has decided to quit and pursue a new career.

I entered the company as a character designer and 23 years passed in an instant. As a developer, I've reached the top at Capcom. There are no more stairs to climb. I'm leaving Capcom with the intention of starting my life over.

People that really know me, can see where I'm coming from. I'm not a regular dude. It's probably because I'm strange.

I'll do my best. Thank you. - Keiji Inafune

Sayonara, Inafune-san. Thanks for Mega Man, Onimusha and Dead Rising! Apparently he'll be searching for his next position immediately without taking a break... though considering that he frequently decries the Japanese games industry and slags off rival companies, he might have to consider a change of scenery. I wonder if Bethesda could use another guru? [Daletto (translated)]

Sales War: Microsoft Expands, PS3 Gaining, PSP Bombs


The quarterly financials are in, folks... meaning that it's time to pore over the figures and come up with some contentious comparisons between Microsoft and Sony. Luckily I've done the hard work so that you don't have to.

First up: Microsoft. The software giant has announced record-breaking revenue of $16.2 billion for this quarter (ending September 30), an increase of 25% over the same period last year. They've seen year-on-year growth thoughout all of their divisions, ending up with a net income of $5.4 billion- and net profit of $382 million for their Entertainment Services division (which includes the Xbox 360).

While Microsoft managed to improve in all sectors, Sony has had a much more asymmetrical quarter throughout its hardware divisions. PSP sales have halved from 3 million to 1.5 million this second quarter... but the PS3 isn't pulling any punches. Hardware sales have slightly increased, but software sales have skyrocketed from 38.7 million in 2009 to 60.1 million units! This has pulled the Networked Products and Services division out of a 59 billion yen loss into a 6.9 billion yen profit.

Here's where it gets interesting. According to the latest sales figures, there's only a gap of 5 million units between PS3 and Xbox 360 sales (39.2 million PS3s compared to 44.6 million X360s)... with Sony selling at a faster rate this last quarter. Sony was able to shift 3.5 million PS3s between July-September whereas the Xbox 360 sold a lower 2.8 million, meaning that they have lost a little ground since Q1, but are still effectively gaining on Microsoft. This holiday season is likely to be pivotal for both companies, with Motion Control providing an interesting new proposition for existing consumers without actually being in significant direct competition. Sony sold over 6 million PS3s last Christmas, for the record...

5th Cell Unveil New XBLA Shooter


5th Cell, the studio behind the recently released Super Scribblenauts, has released a teaser site and trailer for their newest project. Entitled Hybrid, this latest title is a gritty postapocalyptic shooter featuring two playable factions: Paladins and Variants. It's set for an XBLA release, though the exact date is up in the air at the moment. Why not check out the website for some cryptic backstory?  [whatishybrid.com]

I hope (vainly) that we'll still be able to summon objects into existence with a magical notepad. Dropping whales or the Eiffel tower onto enemies will make for a brand new take on the FPS genre...

Powerful PSP2 Won't Use UMDs? [Rumour Control]


Yet more choice PSP2 rumours have oozed onto the internet courtesy of Kotaku, who recently claimed that a number of sources divulged information about the upcoming handheld after a closed-doors demonstration at TGS. Their latest unverified intel suggests that the PSP2 might ditch the UMD optical discs, instead storing downloadable games on Memory Stick much like the PSP Go. Uh oh. Apparently Sony are still deliberating the exact details of the storage system; though we hope that they'll allow other retailers to sell downloadable PSP games and decide their own price levels if the system goes completely disc-less.

Their 'sources' also reckon that the PSP2 will pack a gigabyte of RAM, which is almost double the amount you'll find in an Xbox 360.

Personally I think that the PSP 2 will ditch the UMD format. The constantly-spinning drive had a terrifying effect on battery life and took up a lot of space that could otherwise have been used to pack in more hardware or improve the form factor. File this one under very likely. As for the RAM, I think we'll need to sit back and wait. [Kotaku]

From Nintendo's Thief Of Time To PSP2 Release Rumours - News Roundup 25th October 2010

Jonathan Lester
apple, Games news, Hi-Rez, Nintendo, PSP2, Sony

Ninty Still "Absolutely" Threatened By Apple


Microsoft is only weeks away from launching Kinect, but Nintendo aren't at all worried. Besides the fact that Kinect, Playstation Move and the Wii aren't technically in direct competition, Nintendo of America boss Reggie Fils-Aime has once again identified Apple as a far more immediate threat to their finances.

Do I think that in the near term [Apple] can hurt us more than Microsoft? Absolutely. Apple and its newly-found interest in gaming isn’t Nintendo’s only problem, though. It’s all about time. I compete with Zynga, I compete with surfing the net, I compete with the newspaper. - Reggie Fils-Aime to Forbes.

Reggie makes the interesting point that Nintendo's most dangerous adversaries aren't other console manufacurers. Nintendo products have become synonymous with casual gaming, family and fun time-fillers... meaning that their real competition includes everything from picnics, novels, Twister and television. We'll soon discover who's the real thief of time. [Forbes via VG247]

Hi-Rez Resurrects Tribes!

tribes banner

Tribes' designer Scott Youngblood may be hard at work on Firefall... but it appears that his old IP will be coming back for another outing. Hi-Rez, the studio behind futuristic shooter Global Agenda, has acquired the Tribes trademark and will be developing an MMO sequel.

Apparently Tribes Universe will feature a substantially-tweaked Unreal Engine (that also powers Global Agenda) to allow 100+ players to fight on the same map. A slew of UI and terrain upgrades will also be included. Global Agenda is a solid if uninspiring shooter- and we hope that Hi-Rez will put a little more time and effort into making Tribes Universe as remarkable as its predecessors.

[Hi-Rez Forums (Membership Required) via Rock Paper Shotgun]

Rumour Control: PSP2 Out Fall 2011 With Bigger Screen?


PSP2 rumours have been popping up faster than we can track them these last few months, with myriad contradictory reports flying in the face of Sony's stoic wall of silence. We already know that the platform is "pretty powerful" and dev kits are already in developer hands, but we've otherwise been able to confirm very little about the handheld.

However, Kotaku has caught some choice rumours courtesy of several unnamed sources. Apparently the PSP2 will be releasing in "Fall 2011", with an "HD" screen that's a full inch larger than the current model. This will naturally make the entire console bigger, though this should allow them more room to work with. According to the reports, the PSP2 will indeed include the rumoured rear-mounted touch pad that resembles a "big mouse trackpad." No news on a second thumbstick yet... though I smell a mutiny brewing if Sony have decided to ignore the fan outcry.

Ostensibly there are also some overheating issues that will almost certainly be rectified long before it hits the shelves. Or at least with subsequent models.

So, what should we make of this one? We can probably confirm the rear touchpad considering the sheer number of sources that have mentioned it these last few weeks... but as for release date, I'd hold tight for now. Considering that the Nintendo 3DS is set for  March release and the PSP is enjoying a Japanese sales upswing, we might be holding on a good while longer.

From The "Pretty Powerful" PSP2 to Canned Privates - News Roundup 17th September 2010

Jonathan Lester
Microsoft, Playstation Move, Privates, PSP2, Sony, Zombie Cow Studios

PSP 2 is "Pretty Powerful", Already In Developers' Hands


The fact that Sony are currently working on their next generation handheld is one of the worst-kept secrets in gaming at the moment. What is surprising, however, is that they've remained deathly silent about their new system- despite myriad rumours of its supposed capabilities.

However, it appears that the PSP2 is already making the rounds of Netherrealm studios, the developer behind the upcoming Mortal Kombat remake.

"...we have a PSP2 in the house and we’re looking at the engine, like what can it support. Always a big thing for us is the performance. We’re running at 60 fps, what can we do and do we have to build all the art assets over. We’re definitely looking at them. PSP2 looks like it’s a pretty powerful machine. We don’t have a 3DS system in house yet, but we’re looking to get one, and we’ll certainly look at what its power is.” - Executive Producer Shaun Himmerick, Netherrealm Studios

So... the PSP2 is definitely out there- and is likely to be a fairly meaty piece of kit. Pundits and eager fans (or both, in my case) alike have been wondering about the reasons behind Sony's reticence to come forward with a hardware reveal. Either they're waiting to analyse the impact of handheld 3D gaming, or the recent sales boom in Japan has made them realise that there's plenty of life in the old dog yet. Either way, the most recent rumours suggest that the PSP2 will be set for a 2011 reveal... and we wonder how the launch titles are coming along. Considering that developers are already experimenting with the tech, we might be seeing it sooner rather than later. [industrygamers]

Playstation Move Launches, Kinect Mouths Off


Just in case you didn't know, Playstation Move launches today in the UK. The motion control peripheral blends familiar Wii-esque gameplay with a far greater level of precision and potential... though many of the launch titles leave much to be desired. We'll soon have a full hardware review for you shortly.

As you'd expect, however, Microsoft is trying to outshout the competition in order to make Kinect more visible (which, frankly, they ought to have been prioritising before today. On the flipside, however, Kinect Boss Phil Spencer has told Eurogamer that Kinect will have the "biggest platform launch ever"... and Tsunoda reckons that the peripheral will even outsell the iPad (over 3 million units this Christmas apparently). Them's fighting words, Spencer, but I suppose it depends on the definition of "platform."

Psyched for Move? Can't wait for Kinect? Or feel that this is just a flash in the pan that the Wii's already capitalised on years ago? Have your say in the comments!

Privates Too Sexual For Xbox, MS Pulls Plug


You may remember that Zombie Cow Studios, the esteemed and anarchic British Indie developers, recently released an epic piece of sexual education software for E4. Privates is a hectic and impressive shooter set within various intimate parts of human anatomy- and at one point, Zombie Cow were interested in securing the title for an Xbox Live Indie or XBLA release.

Unfortunately, Microsoft has deemed the product to be too mature and sexual to feature on Xbox Live Marketplace- and whilst it's a shame that yet another Indie developer won't get the chance to show off on the Xbox 360, you can sort of see where they're coming from.

Privates is still available for free download from E4, in case you're interested. [Zombie Cow Studios]

PSP2: Most Wanted Features

Brendan Griffiths
Features, Hardware, PSP, PSP Go, PSP2, Sony

Sony hasn’t given us any real indication that a second PSP is on the way anytime soon. But that doesn’t mean the net hasn’t stopped trying to unearth any details via rumours, scrupulous checking of tech trademark registrations or the CVs of every tech developer on LinkedIn every two minutes. But what would we actually want from a PSP2? Here’s a list compiled from my own thoughts and general grumbles from fellow gamers.

*All the images for this article are from fan made/ unofficial concept PSP designs and don’t reflect anything officially linked with Sony. But Sony, if you’re reading this, I’d eat my own face to get a handheld that looks as good as the one above.

Second analogue stick

Seriously, if there’s only one stick again, you can just forget it. Using the face buttons to control aiming in first-person shooters has been a clumsy nightmare from the early days of Coded Arms right up to Call of Duty. Platformers suffer too, with camera rotations and resets being left to the shoulder buttons. Yes, God of War: Chains of Olympus survived without it, but that series has mastered the fixed-angle camera setup. If Sony want to prove they listen to feedback (and would like to make a shitload of money) this should be a no-brainer. I don’t want to hear any crap about the DS/3DS managing fine without a pair either.

Better analogue stick(s)

They need to be slightly bigger and stick out a bit more from the console. It would also be more comfortable if they were concave, which would stop thumbs sliding off them constantly during racing games. If it’s like sliding a 5p coin around a glass table again we won’t be happy.

Mobile phone / Better web functions

The iPhone is undoubtedly muscling in on the handheld gaming market, so perhaps it’s time to take the fight to their doorstep? The size of Sony’s new device will be a key factor here as nobody wants a taco sized object next to their face. Remember the epic fail that was the N-Gage?

If phone capabilities are out then we’d at least expect Wi-Fi internet again, with lots of apps and downloads, but not in the same loony pricing scheme as full PSP titles on PSN. The old PSP had a good stab at online with its browser; make it a little bit more user-friendly and speed it up for sites like Facebook and YouTube and it’d be a success. Oh and Flash support might be nice too.

Click here to read what else the PSP2 will need to succeed.