The PSP as the New Sega Saturn. - Home Theater Forum and Systems -

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post #1 of 1 Old 03-26-10, 12:28 AM Thread Starter
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The PSP as the New Sega Saturn.

The PSP as the New Sega Saturn

Even as it putters along in America, the PSP has become the "high-end" platform of choice in Japan, and that means lots of RPGs.
by Kat Bailey | Mar 25, 2010 11:29AM PST
Tags: PSP
While I was in Japan for TGS last year, I chatted briefly with a Japanese friend of mine about some of the games that were coming up at the time. At some point, I happened to mention my desire to see more Japanese games on high-end systems, and he cut in with, "Oh! Like the PSP!"

I stammered a bit and finally said, "Well, I was thinking more along the lines of the PlayStation 3, but okay."

That's where the PSP is in Japan these days, though. It's a "high-end" console for the average gamer because the only other system of note is the Nintendo DS. The PlayStation 3 and its ilk are for the freaks, geeks and otaku of the world, and the Wii is in a world all its own. With that in mind, the PSP has kind of become the system of choice for Japanese developers, particularly if they're developing a multiplayer title; and that means lots of RPGs.

I covered some of the best titles when I listed the "Essential RPGs" for each system last year, including Crisis Core, Final Fantasy Tactics: War of the Lions and Monster Hunter. But there continues to be a relative flood of quality PSP RPGs, which has lead some to compare it to the Sega Saturn. I think those comparisons are pretty apt.

What's funny though is that most of the best PSP RPGs are actually making it to North America this time around. RPGs that would have been mere curiosities a little more than a decade ago like Yggdra Union, Hexyz Force and the Persona remake are all getting localized, with Atlus in particular seemingly taking a shine to the system. If I had to bet money, I would say that the recently-confirmed Persona 5 will be a PSP title. The PlayStation 3 just doesn't have the install base to justify the expense of developing a high-def sequel. NIS has tried, and now they're busy going bankrupt.

It helps that what has long been considered one of its biggest weaknesses is actually a strength when it comes to RPGs. Now that the PlayStation 2 is finally finished, the PSP is pretty much the only place to find the sort of RPG that was prevalent over the course of the previous couple generations. It has placed it in a separate niche from the Nintendo DS, which tends to play host to much quirkier, more system-intensive RPGs. The DS is where you'll find the likes of Shiren, Etrian Odyssey and Infinite Space, whereas the PSP tends to play host to prettier, more accessible titles like Crisis Core and the Lunar remake.

That's hardly a bad thing. Regardless of what you think of the notion of a portable Valkyria Chronicles, the fact of the matter is that I can't imagine it on the Nintendo DS. And on the whole, Monster Hunter-type cooperative RPGs tend to work better as well owing to the increased graphical fidelity making the loot collection that much more satisfying. Final Fantasy Crystal Chronicles is fine for what it is, but it honestly pales in comparison to what can be found on the PSP.
For my part, I've got roughly as many PSP games as I do DS games now, and my collection figures to grow with Persona 3 Portable, Valkyria Chronicles 2, Knights in the Nightmare and Blaze Union on the horizon. In the meantime, I've got some solid PS1-era RPGs like Grandia and Final Fantasy VIII from the PlayStation Store. It was because of those games (and Gundam vs. Gundam Next Plus) that I left my DS at home when I went back to Minnesota over the holidays. My PSP was more than enough to keep me busy over the break.

Given the tremendous library of games that I've personally enjoyed quite a bit, I've never really understood that doom and gloom surrounding this system. But then, not everyone likes Macross Ultimate Frontier or Yggdra Union, I guess. And if you're not an JRPG fan, I suppose that the system's library can seem pretty bleak.

If you do like JRPGs though, the PSP caters to a niche that has been severely neglected on all but the Nintendo DS. In Japan, it's the "high-end" game system, which I suppose tells you all you need to know about the state of the industry over there. So long as Japan keeps cranking about games like Dissidia Final Fantasy and Valkyria Chronicles 2 though, I'll keep playing. And really, you should be too. The PlayStation Portable may very well be a handheld Sega Saturn; but when it comes to RPGs, I think that's very much a positive


Do not go where the path may lead, go instead where there is no path and leave a trail. -Ralph Waldo Emerson
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