Gimme Five! Special 5/2 Edition: Why The NGP Will Be Great/Be Bad For Sony

News about Sony’s new handheld has hit, and because of it I’m doing something special with the format of this article! Instead of just 5 bullet points, there will be 2 for one side and two for another, with the same reason for both sides in the middle! Like all experiments, this could go well or could blow up a building. Let’s see how it goes!

5: Focusing on download play

The PSP Go was a bit too little too late, but the idea is solid. Using what amounts to a Playstation iPod is way better than fumbling around with a bunch of tiny disks hugged by little plastic shells. The closest thing we have to that now is an iPhone or an iPad, and anything that requires more than one finger is pretty rough to play on those. Plus, it saves on battery power! Perfect for a crazy long plane ride. Going for this type of play and distributing your games on flash carts will help them avoid another situation where they try to sell people a $250 upgrade that will make all the games bought before useless. And the old PSP downloadable games will work on it too! How’s that for backwards compatibility.

4: A Second analog stick!

Finally, a portable console maker gets it! You wanted titles from publishers like the ones on the consoles, yet you left out the one thing that would make that viable. A second analog stick means that the controls are comparable to real consoles and then games won’t have to rig some weird set-up to get their games to play right. Peace Walker is awesome, but I can picture Kojima and his team trying every possible control scheme while muttering “they couldn’t just slap another nub on there, too much work to do that” under their collective breaths. Also, they can start porting PS2 games right onto it. So, more money for them! Hooray!

3: Tons of Awesome Hardware

In typical fashion, this new device is kitted out with a ton of new hardware. Along with the aforementioned second stick, there’s the face that it’s a touchscreen sandwich and has enough hardware to run MGS4 at 20 frames per second. It sounds pretty awesome…

3.5: Tons of Awesome Hardware

…but this is the kind of thing that Sony’s been doing forever. The Dreamcast has analog triggers? Now all of the buttons on a PS2 controller are analog! The iPod is making sales? Well the PSP can do music and movies too! Sony just tends to throw everything at new hardware and trump it up, hoping that everything will work out later. Then they come out with a slimmer, nicer version six months later. This approach leads to two big issues.

2: The Price Point

Yes, it’s an old joke, 599 US dollars and everything, but with portable systems it’s still a good point. People get devices like this when they want something to play with when traveling or indisposed, and also mainly for children. If this thing is really going to cost $400 like reports have been speculating, then you’re really not going to get those markets. For that much you can buy 2 Xboxes!

1: No Killer Edge

For all it’s amazing stuff, there’s no big gimmick or new thing that’ll help it make back all the money they’ll spend on hardware. It’s been the story again and again with Sony: Nintendo has a touchscreen and two screens, Sony has a really nice Game Boy Advance. The Kinect has crazy depth-sensing technology, while the Move is really just a better Wii. The NGP looks like it could be more of the same: a really cool thing that no-one will buy because check it out: 3-D Zelda!

So what do you think, either about Sony’s new palm-held darling or about how I stretched my column gimmick? Express yourself in the comments!

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