Sony has finally announced the PSP's successor. Called the NGP—which is not the system's final name—it looks like the PlayStation Portable... just more so. What's notable is what we don't know: there was no price announced, nor was there a specific release date given outside of the "end of the year 2011."
What we do know is that it comes with damn near everything you could imagine. Let's take a look at the system and you'll see why it might have been wise to keep the price under wraps for now.
The NGP will come with a 5" OLED screen, two micro-analog sticks to simulate the DualShock experience, front and rear facing cameras, and a touchpad on the back of the machine. Hideo Kojima claimed you can "enjoy the same quality as PlayStation 3" on the handheld. He also described a scenario in which you could play a game on your PS3, leave the house and continue playing on the NGP, and then return to the game on your PS3 and television. He noted that this is just his dream, and there will be more announced in the future.
Here are the detailed specs, straight from Sony:
- CPU: ARM┬о CortexтДв-A9 core (4 core)
- GPU: SGX543MP4+
- External Dimensions: Approx. 182.0 x 18.6 x 83.5mm (width x height x depth) (tentative, excludes largest projection)
- Rear touchpad: Multi touchpad (capacitive type)
- Cameras: Front camera, Rear camera
- Sound: Built-in stereo speakers, Built-in microphone
- Sensors: Six-axis motion sensing system (three-axis gyroscope, three-axis accelerometer), Three-axis electronic compass
- Location: Built-in GPS, Wi-Fi location service support
- Keys / Switches: PS button, Power button, Directional buttons (Up/Down/Right/Left), Action buttons (Triangle, Circle, Cross, Square), Shoulder buttons (Right/Left), Right stick, Left stick, START button, SELECT button, Volume buttons
- Wireless communications: Mobile network connectivity (3G), IEEE 802.11b/g/n (n = 1x1)(Wi-Fi)
Games will come on "a small flash memory based card," according to Sony. "Taking advantage of the flash memory feature, this innovative card can store the full software titles plus add-on game content or game save data directly on to the card. By adopting a flash memory based card, SCE will be able to provide game cards with higher capacity in the future, allowing developers to store more game data to deliver rich and immersive games." This is a wise move: memory is inexpensive, and the optical drive sapped the PSP's battery.
A new Uncharted game was shown at the event, showing off what can be done with the controls and new features. Drake was controlled by the rear touchpanel, with stealth kills pulled off with the touchscreen. If Drake is on a vine, you will be able to rock the system back and forth to generate momentum. The touchscreen on the rear of the system is the same size as the system's OLED screen, meaning your finger is mapped to the actual game screen on a 1:1 basis. We'll be seeing both touch and motion control options in games.
Sony didn't dawdle with support for its biggest franchises, with Uncharted, Wipeout, Killzone, Hot Shots, Resistance, and LittleBigPlanet releases either shown or hinted at. A Call of Duty title was also announced.
The touchpad is a rather ingenious design: it opens the door for many new ideas in game control, but since it's behind the screen you won't be blocking the screen using it like we're used to on iOS devices. The touchscreen on the front of the system means that you will also be able to touch the interface directly as well. It's the best of all worlds... unless you're tired of all this and just want to use buttons and analog sticks to control your games.
LiveArea is the system's online service, where you'll be able to see what your friends are playing, buy content, comment on your friends' progress in games. Location-based features were also shown, allowing for social gaming based on geographic location.
In the new Hot Shots Golf title you'll also use the motion controls to look around the course in a first-person mode, as if you're peering through a window into the game world. The touch controls seem like they would be a natural fit for a golf title. And now, the questions
How much will we pay for this slice of greatness? How much will the games cost? Will we need to sign up with a for-pay service to use the 3G options? How long will that battery last? What are the resolutions of the front- and rear-facing cameras?
We have the Game Developers Conference, and more importantly E3, coming up before the system's launch, so it's reasonable to expect more details at those shows. For now, we know what the system looks like, and we have some idea of what it's capable of. Sony made a big point of bringing developers onstage to show PS3 content running on the NGP, so matching the power of the home console seemed to be a priority.
What do you think so far?