Around 4pm AEST yesterday Sony held their official PlayStation meeting in Tokyo, and they put to rest all the rumours and mock designs for the PSP2 that have been floating around the internet. They announced their new PlayStation Portable successor, the Next Generation Portable (NGP) and it looks fantastic. After the jump you will find everything you need to know about the great new unit!
The NGP has a cavalcade of new features, a great list of launch titles, and an innovative new design. The first thing I’ll cover here is the design, and how it compares to the PSP-3000. The NGP has a 5” OLED multi-touch display on the front, boasting a 960 x 544 display resolution, compared to the 3000’s 4.3 inch TFT screen with a measly 480×272 resolution. The front display is paired with a 5” multi-touch pad on the rear of the unit which is stylized with PlayStation graphics. The rear touchpad provides additional control in games, offering a 1:1 control interface between the two screens, giving the NGP a great potential for creative and innovative future gameplay elements.
The two touch screens are not the only new innovation Sony have thrown into the NGP, they have also included the accelerometer and gyroscope from the PS Move controllers, allowing for very sensitive motion controls in games as well. It’s hard to deny the possibilities that come with this added level of control on a portable unit, whether you like motion control or not.Arguably the most desired new control feature however, is the dual analog sticks. Sony have decided to replace the PSP-3000’s nub, with two stick controls similar to the PS3 controllers, which many fans have argued was the biggest flaw of the original PSP.
Sony has also decided to replace the UMD format for games with a new flash card style media. This will be much appreciated by fans, as UMDs are notoriously slow to load, fragile, and unwieldy. The flash card media will be able to store the games, as well as any additional content, and save games, while also allowing Sony to provide cards with a higher capacity in the future to allow for bigger and better games. The unit will have both 3G and WiFi capabilities for connectivity; however no price plans for 3G contracts/prepaid have been announced at this time. The NGP will also include front and rear cameras, built-in GPS, and a 3-axis electronic compass.
The NGP will have a new user interface called LiveArea, to replace the XMB, which will be a vertically navigable multi-screen system, in the tone of Android’s multiple home screen system. Each NGP game will have it’s own “LiveArea” which will provide information including news and updates from the developer. The LiveArea will also have a friend feed style social-networking system which will allow players to view accomplishments by their friends in the same game, including trophies, beating leaderboard scores, and more, with the option to comment/like each post.
Another interesting feature is Near. Near is a location-based system using GPS which can track you as you go to different places, and allows you to see what is the most popular game being played in that area. It also includes a map which shows a history of users who were nearby at the locations you visit, and allows you to see what games each of them play. Whether or not this is a good idea from a privacy point of view, it is certainly an interesting concept.