Obviously not willing to let Nintendo run away with the handheld market again, Sony has revealed their new PSP, called the NGP. Awkward name aside, it's one slick-looking piece of hardware. But comparing the NGP to the 3DS is a little difficult, given how I've yet to get my hands on Sony's new portable, and neither system has actually been released.
The one thing Sony really has going for it is the fact that the NGP is an extremely sexy unit, and it's easy to show just how impressive the graphics are. The 3DS can only be experienced in person. Videos of the games can show the quality of the graphics, but the 3D effect that is its real selling point can only be experienced in person. Of course, just as with the PSP, Sony has one-upped Nintendo in terms of graphics. The 3DS was impressive, but the NGP is quite gorgeous. They're claiming PS3 quality, which I would tend to doubt, but what I've seen so far looks awfully close!
My concern with the NGP is the fact that Sony seems to have thrown in everything but the kitchen sink. Nintendo added an analog nub, gyroscope and accelerometer to the 3DS, but Sony has added an extra analog stick, a gyroscope, an accelerometer, a compass, a touch screen, a rear touch pad, and cameras to the NGP. It all seems like a bit much, especially the rear touch screen. Certainly, developers could get creative with so many different control possibilities, but it'll probably take a little while to get to that point. And in the end, I feel like that rear touch screen isn't going to get a whole lot of love from third-parties. I know Sony's catchphrase is "It only does everything," but maybe making their systems do "everything" isn't as important as maybe doing one or two things really, really well.
I'm also a little curious about the 3G support, wondering Sony will offer their own wireless subscription service or partner with someone else, like Verizon. Hopefully the 3G won't cost extra. Both Sony and Nintendo are talking some big talk about how they're revolutionizing the multiplayer experience, letting you seek out opponents and play with people both near you and around the world... but until we see it in actual use, it's hard to tell how much of it will actually play out as they've intended.
The 3DS is backwards-compatible with the standard DS games, but the NGP can't play all those UMD's you've got laying around. On the plus side, Sony promises the NGP will let you download and play any number of PSP and PS1 games available in the PlayStation Store, so that creates quite a lot of games available at launch. This will be a very good thing if the NGP launch library is as small as the PSP's was. The 3DS is currently only going to have Game Boy games available to download and play from the Virtual Console, which is pretty lame. Why can't it also play GBA, NES and SNES games? For that matter, it should be able to play N64 games, too!
Nintendo's going to have a head start, with the 3DS coming out at the end of March, so Sony's going to have to play catch-up. There's no price point or release date yet, but they'll have to price it competitively, probably in the $299 range, is my guess, and have it out by Christmas. I'm certainly interested, but it's probably not going to be a day-one purchase for me like the 3DS. At least not as it stands right now. As a 3D nerd, the 3DS is instantly appealing to me, regardless of how many games are available at launch. But I'm not biased, I swear. The NGP looks great, too (awkward UI aside). I just remember buying my PSP at the midnight launch and playing Wipeout and Untold Legends for a while before it pretty much turned into a movie player. That's been my main problem with Sony's systems since the PS2. My PSP was primarily a movie player until I got my iPod Touch, and my PS3 is currently a Blu-Ray player. Hopefully by E3, Sony will have some playable games so I can get a better feel for it. Because as awesome as the system is, it's the games that are really going to sell it.