2011 has started pretty much in the same way that 2010 ended; with a slew of rumours and hype about the next round of portable game consoles. Although Sony continues to dance around the Xperia Play – the as of yet unannounced but obviously real PlayStation Phone – we’re pretty much also guaranteed to see the long awaited PSP2 arrive during the next 12 months. Hey, you didn’t expect to see Miyamoto and chums have all the fun this year, right?
Whatever Sony have got up their sleeves, we’re apparently going to start hearing about it from January 27 onwards. According to VG247 and backed up by MCV, Sony are due to hold a business overview and strategy meeting. It all sounds rather boring, conjuring up images of middle aged men in suits writing brain farts on a flip chart, but apparently “very select” press will be invited along for the fun. Naturally, our invite must have got lost in the post.
Will it be the PSP2? Will Sony continue to deny all knowledge of the PlayStation Phone? Will there be biscuits? What sort of biscuits? Did somebody say biscuits? Stay tuned.
Inevitably, what we’ll get will be news that yes, the PSP2 is going to come out at some point in time. Perhaps we’ll also get a vague launch window – Q3 2011, anyone? – and maybe even news that the Titanic is experiencing trouble somewhere between Southampton and New York. Either way, you can bet your bottom dollar that everything that follows will be a slow, agonising and ultimately pointless drip feed of information, specs and tech demos through E3 and beyond. Expect a PSP Go inspired design, touch controls on the rear, twin analogue nubs and visuals good enough to rival early PlayStation 3 standards. Oh, and a 10 minute battery life powering it all.
In the altogether more sane and real world of Nintendo, HMS 3DS Hype has finally left port and set sail towards a March 2011 launch. Whether it arrives on international shores with it’s reputation intact will largely depend on consumer reaction to one or two recent and not all too pleasant press releases. According to system specs revealed at Nintendo World 2011, the 3DS will hold charge for between 3 to 5 hours for 3DS games, and between 5 and 8 hours for regular old DS games. Apparently, it also takes around 3 hours to fully charge. Good old Nintendo will however be bundling in a charging cradle with every console sold, which may or may not be an admission that they know these figures really aren’t that great.
You also won’t be able to import any of your favourite overseas games, because Nintendo are region locking the 3DS from launch. This is a good thing, right? Well no, not really, as demonstrated by the swell of online criticism towards this stance over the last couple of days. Are we back to the days of waiting 6 months for games to surface outside of Japan? Pokemon Black/White says yes.
Ah well, at least the 3DS won’t incinerate your children’s retinas. Or maybe it will, who knows. Nintendo don’t exactly seem totally sure themselves, but will attempt to offset the risk potential by offering Miis on the go. Sold. Hopefully not for the £299.93 that UK retailers TheHut, WHSmiths and Woolworths have the system currently pegged at for pre-orders, however.
With both Microsoft and Sony pinning their hopes on motion controllers to extend the current home consoles beyond their expected relevance for at least a year or two yet, 2011 is all set for the handheld market to take centre stage. With the constant evolution of iOS as a gaming platform and the potentially pimped out specs of a new PSP, Nintendo may find itself with more competition than it’s comfortable with in the mobile gaming space this time around. Then again, with it’s own spec improvements and a pretty compelling unique sell, I wouldn’t bet my house against them strolling to success once more with the 3DS. Even if it does melt your eyeballs in the process.
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