The Next Generation Portable goes head to head with the Nintendo 3DS later this year to see who will be king of handheld gaming.
For many years consoles have constantly rivaled each other, from the Apple II vs the Commodore PET, to the Nintendo Game Boy vs the Sega Game Gear, to the Xbox 360 vs the Sony Playstation 3.
Ever since the second generation of video gaming, many manufacturers have jumped on the bandwagon’ so to speak, following the amazing success of arcade gaming, manufacturers jumped at the opportunity to port games onto a home computer, and thus the 1980′s were filled with more incompatible home computer systems than you can shake a reasonably big stick at.
But nowadays, the amount of consoles that you can buy are surprisingly limited, (I don’t count a plug and play system as a console) we now have the three biggest rivals in gaming constantly trying to get a 1-up on the others (see what I did there?)
The seventh generation of gaming kicked off with the Nintendo DS in November 2004. The very next month, Sony retaliated with the PSP. And now history will repeat itself this year, with the nearby release of the 3DS and the rather far off release of the NGP, it’s now up to me to give you the lowdown on each console.
For a start, let’s look at Nintendo’s new product. The 3DS’ main feature is of course the 3D aspect, this allows you to play games in a full 3D experience without having to wear glasses. Nintendo tell us that it uses a parallax barrier, a separate layer over the screen with tiny slits in it, which allows each eye to see a slightly different image, much like a stereoscope.
Thousands of game fans attended a free exhibition of the Nintendo 3DS console in Tokyo on the weekend.
The top screen (the 3D one) uses an 800×240 pixel display, which I can only describe as noice, unfortunately, it assigns 400 columns pixels to each of your eyes to allow the 3D effect to work. In this way, it is a step up from it’s predecessors, but it’s not as large as I would have hoped from the newest tech.
As for what’s on the inside, it’s almost certain that it will run 2x266MHz ARM11 for it’s CPU, a 133MHz PICA 200 GPU and 64Mb of RAM (4MB of Video Ram) Inside then it’s over twice as good as the DSi, and we all know that developers can get some good stuff from that. Promo footage shows Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater running on the 3DS. It’s also wifi enabled although I’m sure you didn’t need me to tell you that. BT has also offered up it’s BTFON service to the 3DS, so you should be able to get a connection just about anywhere as long as you know where the nearest Starbucks or McDonalds is.
The design of the 3DS is much the same as it’s ancestors, there are a few changes however. The first one is a small one, the Select and Start buttons as well as a new home button have been moved to just under the bottom screen. If you’ve seen the image at the top of this post you’ll see that Nintendo seem to have stolen (or should I say “Gained inspiration from”) Sony’s classic thumbstick. Of course I cannot give an accurate prediction as to what this will be used for, because every developer will be able to use it differently. The 3DS has also retained the cameras of it’s DSi and DSi XL parents, only now it has three. Why? Well, it has two outwards facing cameras so that it can take 3D pictures. Unfortunately, they are still only 0.3 megapixels, there are a lot of settings to make sure that the picture is just right though. Both before taking it and afterwards.
On that note, you may be asking,”But what about the games?” Well, like I previously mentioned, promo pictures have shown Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater on it, truth is that it will be remade (not just ported) for the console, T3 got a hands on experience with Super Street Fighter IV: 3D Edition and Nintendo’s own Space Raiders (not like the crisps I should hope.) Other sources have confirmed that Kid Icarus will make a 3D return, including these, Nintendo have announced that there will be 25 games available to buy for the 3DS on launch day. These games will be played on the standard cards that we have now come to expect from the DS, and all previous titles are backwards compatible.
That’s not all though, Ninty is in talks with media supplier Sky to bring 3D shorts to the system, and Eurosport, a Cable and Satellite sports channel is onboard too. Plus the claymation company Aardman are signed to create short, 3D, episodes of Shawn the Sheep.
Other new features include Street Pass, which allows you to instantaneously share your gaming information with other 3DS’ while you’re on the move. Sharing your information with strangers might not sound like a great plan, but again, it’s what the developers can do with that counts.
It also includes a new ‘Friends List’ style system, which replaces the annoying Friend Codes system that was used beforehand. I’m sure that doesn’t need much more explanation. The Mii Maker software that comes pre-installed with the system will allow you to take a picture of yourself and convert it into a digital avatar, allowing you to speed up the setup process.
So with all that, you might just be quite excited about the 3DS, and with the release date set at the 25th of March, you may also be pulling out your wallet for it (or purse, I’m not sexist) but just how much will you be handing over? In the US it will cost around $250 (which is £155) but as usual, the UK will be paying more, around £200. Though it’s reckoned that the price will drop not too long after release.
Now, what about that there PSP2 (or NGP, which stands for Next Gen Portable) well, following the same layout as the 3DS section, let’s start by looking at the tech specs.
For a start then, under the bonnet we have an amazing quad-core ARM Cortex A9 processor, the likes of which most likely won’t be used for another year or two in other products. On top of that it features a quad-core Imagination Technologies PowerVR (That’s a SGX543MP4+) graphics processor.
Sony unveil the Next Generation Portable for the first time, at an event in Tokyo on January 27, 2011.
The screen has a maximum resolution of 960×544 pixels on an OLED screen, making for a beautiful yet easy on the battery experience. Sony have boasted that this actually on par with a PS3, but I’m not so sure myself.
As far as design goes, it too has stuck like superglue to it’s previous design, only now sporting a larger screen and an extra analog stick, which was one of the biggest gripes of the original PSP. From the images that I can find, the sticks also seem to pop out more, which should be ergonomically nicer.
Remember how Nintendo stole that analog stick? Don’t worry, because sony got one back by stealing it’s touch screen. Only instead of making a separate screen for it they just decided to stick it on the back. Yes, one of the most talked about features of the NGP is that it has a trackpad on it’s back, allowing you to poke and stroke your handheld, I’ll be interested to see what developers can do with this one as well, when mixed with the shed loads of sensors it will come equipped with, we can have a really emergent experience.
The NGP comes wifi ready, as you would expect, but, somewhat out of the blue, it also comes 3G ready. Even though details of how exactly pricing on the 3G will work, it’d be a surprise if Sony made it free like Amazon’s Kindle.
It’s a shame that I can’t write about all the games that will be coming the NGP’s way, but with the release date so far away, there’s not much I can do. I can, though, tell you that the games will no longer come on a UMD, but rather a SD card. Whether these will be Sony’s own proprietary formats or just standard SD cards is unknown, but I’d hedge my bets on the former.
That’s still not all though, the NGP will also have access to the Playstation Suite, an Android, it’s app store esque, and let’s you download classic Playstation titles, and possibly more casual games such as the world acclaimed angry birds, or, especially with the trackpad, Fruit Ninja (which is my biggest addiction lately.)
So there’s the facts, but if you want my opinion I’d say it’s too early to tell. My instinct tells me that the power and parts in the NGP make it the better console, but at the same time, if it doesn’t have any half decent games (The PSP had about 5 games that actually interested me) then it’s not worth buying. Yet, at the same time, I can see the 3D being gimmicky and annoying after a while, to the point where I might just turn it off.
Please do comment below and tell me what you think, and which one you’ll be getting your hands on.