I’ve had my PSP for about a year now and I’ve decided to trade it in for the Nintendo DS. Unlike many in the gaming industry, I’m not enamored with Nintendo or full of nostalgia for the golden days of eight-bit gaming. I have, however, had fun with their systems and thoroughly enjoyed many of their N64 titles (Goldeneye sniper mode was teh win). On the other hand, I can say the exact same for most of the other big game consoles.

Actually, after the N64, I pretty much gave up on Nintendo. After seeing the route the company went with the Gamecube, I knew that our ways had parted and couldn’t really understand the fanboyism of some of my friends.

Then the Wii came along and, despite the gimmicky controls, I remained unimpressed. Nintendo seemed intent upon staying behind the times. I mean, come on… in this day and age they can’t even put arms on their “Miis”? What the heck, Nintendo. Still, some of the games were alright, definitely better for playing with other people, but not good enough to convince me to buy into the fad.

The same thing applied to the Nintendo DS. The Nintendo crowd could keep their little kid games and test their Brain Age all they wanted. I went for the PSP. Good graphics. Good games. Good stuff.

Except, after playing with it for a year, I find myself at a loss as it sits on the floor of my closet, even while I’m searching for a way to distract myself at work.

After some contemplation, I have it pinned down. The PSP is a system that doesn’t know what it wants to be. On one hand, they push for cutting edge graphics and strong gameplay but, on the other, each of those forces the games to be shorter and shallower due to the space limitations of the UMD.

Playstation wants you to believe that the PSP is a PS2 in pocket with such titles as Grand Theft Auto and God of War, yet it suffers because it simply cannot compare to the original games, again, due to space limitations and a muddy control system.

But, wait, it’s not just a game system! It’s a movie system! An MP3 player! A PDA! On all three counts, it does not live up to its charge. Movie selection is lacking, even when you find a store that rents their discs. It’s a freaking block, so no one uses it for an mp3 player. And, as for being a web tool, well… it works for rudimentary web browsing. As long as you don’t have to type anything in less than five minutes.

So, after all this time, I find myself looking again at the Nintendo DS.  Are the graphics as good? No way. But at least the DS knows what it wants to be. It’s a casual console, designed for in and out fun. They don’t want to engross you in hours of deep play. They want you to return to it, time and again, for little pieces of fun and, when you want, devote big chunks of time.

But they don’t force you. And they don’t give allusions to being more than what they are. Nintendo makes clear the audience they’re shooting for and give players the tools to do more with what they’re given.

After over 10 years of sitting firmly in the Sony/Microsoft circle, I’m looking towards a different corner of the gaming ring.

Wish me luck with my trade-ins. Even a PSP is worth more than fifty bucks.

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