I bought a PSP sometime during the spring of 2007 (maybe 20 months ag0). My thoughts on the system over that time have ranged from pretty positive to mildly negative but now have settled firmly on the negative. Here are the three main reasons why the PSP kinda sucks.
The evolving PlayStation controller might be the best controller in all of video games. Sony wisely seems to have realized, unlike Nintendo, that you don’t need to reinvent the wheel with every new generation of games. The PS2 controller was a minor but solid improvement on the PS One controller and PS3 does the same. But the PSP just doesn’t make sense. The biggest mistake is the ommission of one of the analog sticks. There is an anlog controller on the left but none on the right. Additionally there are only 2 shoulder buttons instead of 4. This might not seem like a big deal, but the PSP has effectively become a portable PS2. The hardware is extremely similar to begin with and there are dozens or games that have been released for both systems. But with these limitations, PS2 games just don’t control very well on the PSP. Me and My Katamari plays like absolute garbage without a second stick. Star Wars Battlefront and the GTA games don’t fare much better. Additionally, the buttons that are there aren’t that great. The d-pad is awkward and stiff.
JUST PLAY IT ON PS2
The PSP suffers from a real lack of high quality exclusives. Surprisingly, this is largely Sony’s own fault. Many of Sony’s PSP originals, including Ratchet & Clank: Size Matters, Daxter, Syphon Filter: Dark Mirror, Syphon Filter: Logan’s Shadow and probably others have all been subsequently ported to PlayStation 2. Rockstar’s Grand Theft Auto: Liberty City Stories and Vice City Stories have followed suit. So what’s the point of even having the PSP when nerds can just wait a year and play the games on PS2, using better controls and at a higher resolution?
Well, I can’t speak for others and I haven’t heard any rampant rumors about the quality of the hardware but I can say that my PSP more or less failed after a year and a half. It still works and it’s still quite playable, but a large chunk of the screen has suffered some sort of degradation that affects the picture quality. I have always kept my PSP in a clamshell carrying case (sold separately, $20) and I’ve never dropped it, so this damage has been through no fault of my own.
In hindsight, I would have been better off just buying a used PSP in 2011 and catching up on all the games I missed. Even with all the PS2 ports, there are still several PSP exclusives that are, according to the fans and critics, well worth playing. These include: Metal Gear Solid: Portable Ops, God of War: Chains of Olympus, Castlevania: The Dracula X Chronicles, Patapon, LocoRoco, and Jeanne d’Arc.