Remember when …
Seven years ago, Scranton wasn’t even a twinkle in my eye, but I was working at a similar weekly writing similarly nerdy content. It was late March, and I was covering an exciting new development in the video game world.
I hastily returned from the mall after a lunch-break trip to pick up the goods, and got out the work camera to document the unboxing process for the few loyal readers who cared to read our tech section. After all the tape was carefully cut and the manuals were more or less tossed aside from the not-too-exciting box, I retrieved a sleek, shiny, dense device. It was (and still is, for that matter) an impressive, well-built piece of hardware that just couldn’t help but look and feel futuristic. It was the original PlayStation Portable, and none of us in the office had seen a portable device quite like it.
Even by today’s standards of smartphones on steroids and high-definition-everything, that original 4.3-inch PSP screen looks crisp, bright, and, well, large. But back then, you have to remember most people didn’t even have HDTVs, Blu-ray didn’t even exist, and ‘smartphones’ mostly consisted of bulky things with a stylus that were more of a utility than anything – forget mobile Internet the way we know it now. In that context, the PSP was a seriously futuristic device and a true marvel when it came to mobile gaming.
Times have changed quite a bit, of course. In the wake of the iPhone, smartphones have become slim, powerful and ubiquitous — and some of them can play games that approach the quality of the former portable gaming powerhouse. HDTVs are everywhere, and it’s basically impossible to buy a TV that’s not high-def. Blu-ray is fighting to remain relevant as we beam streaming video to any and every device. And last week, Sony released the first true successor to the PSP (which had a few revisions over the course of its lifespan) — the PlayStation Vita.
Another thing that’s changed in the past seven years is my desire to play games on the go, much less run out and drop a premium wad of cash on a dedicated portable gaming device. With the aforementioned smartphone gaming explosion, Sony is making a pretty steep bet that the market still has a spot for such a piece of hardware. On paper, the thing is pretty impressive — a big, fancy five-inch HD touchscreen, dual joysticks, rear touchpad, and oodles of graphics processing speed. The demos and reviews are quite impressive – most describe the gaming quality as near-PS3.
I’ll admit to at least piqued curiosity to get my hands on one, but since I can’t remember the last time I even picked up my PSP (other than the occasional Lumines binge … god, I love that game) it’s hardly a must-have device for me.
The times have changed, and I do wish the new system luck. It would be nice to know there’s still a market for serious mobile gaming, and I think it’s great having something out there to keep raising the bar on what developers can deliver in a small package. If you were one of the approximately 1.1 million people worldwide who picked up a PS Vita during launch week, enjoy your new hardware. I can only fondly remember fondly that unboxing and excited moment when I saw that gorgeous PSP screen light up for the first time. Bask in the Vita’s glow in good health, ye early adopters!