Sony’s PSP is a Game Freak’s Crack Pipe

I careen down a twisting mountainside racetrack and lob a ball of fiery
napalm ahead. Mr. Grimm’s motorcycle explodes in a dizzying flash of
flames as my armoured vehicle ploughs through the debris.

I turn to drive through a shallow swimming pool, sending tourists
scurrying for cover. Ahead on the road is the nimble beach car piloted
by the ghost teenager, Krista Sparks. I open my missile bays and launch
a volley of heat-seeking rockets. The dead kid’s vehicle stumbles. I
fire more missiles and her car is reduced to rubble in an impressive
explosion.

All this from bed as I wait for exhaustion to put me under where I lie.

Sony PSPSony’s new PSP is a gadget freak’s dream toy. It’s a handheld game system and movie player that gives much larger systems, like the PS2 and XBox, a definite run for their money. It’s portable, has great battery power, and built-in wireless capabilities for multi-player games. In short, it’s the crack pipe of gaming culture.

I originally purchased  the PSP, (that’s “PlayStation Portable” for anybody not in the loop these days) just to try it out. I had no intention of keeping the thing. I just needed to know what all the buzz was about.

Something happened though. LIke a college student who’s “just gonna try cocaine this once,” I became addicted. The little machine is now my constant companion. So much so that my hands are permanently cramped in a claw-like position.

Yeah, the PSP is the ultimate drug, the killer gadget narcotic that I doubt anyone — geek or civilian — would be able to resist.

The build-in screen is bright, colourful and HD resolution. The game play experience is the equivalent of my XBox, if not better.

I love it most because I can play the PSP anywhere. I can play it in bed, at the doctor’s office, in line at the car wash, on the plane. I played it while I was waiting for my tires to get changed the other day. Heck, I could even play it on the can if I ever wanted to; ahem — not that I ever would.

The truly brilliant thing that Sony built into the PSP is its ability to play interactively via WiFi right out of the box. You can either play with someone else in your local vicinity or with a group of people over the Internet. Set up is a no-brainer and completely wireless.

Plus, unlike Microsoft’s XBox Live online game system the PSP’s online environment is free. All you need is an Internet connection and you’re good to go.

It’s not all wine and roses with the PSP, however; more like heroine and dry heaves.
The PSP’s primary problem is ergonomics. Really, it has none. Unlike the comfortable, moulded controllers that come with consoles like the PS2 and the XBox, the PSP is a basic slab of plastic. Within a few hours of playing I was already developing painful muscle cramps in my hands and forearms. So badly, in fact, that when I tried to write a shopping list I found myself capable of only illegible scribbles on the pad.

Another problem I’ve had with the PSP is frequent photosensitive seizures. I’m prone to them with my XBox, but only after extended gaming sessions and under certain environmental conditions.

With the PSP I’ve found that I experience photosensitive seizures more often and after much briefer gaming sessions, sometimes only an hour.

Despite these physically debilitating experiences, however, I can’t give it up. Like a drug addict who chases junk through nausea, depression and self-hatred, I answer the siren call of my PSP.

For there I can rev my engine, arm my missiles, and lock my targets onto Mr. Grimm, the satisfaction of a clean kill leaving me feeling amply rewarded.

Andrew Robulack is an IT Consultant, Writer and Dad based in Whitehorse.

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