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1. Authentic Portable Experiences
Here’s something the PSP doesn’t get enough credit for; bringing us authentic portable versions of great games.
For years, gamers had to get used to the handheld version of a game far crappier than the console version. But the PSP had many games that were nearly identical ports of other titles in terms of graphics and gameplay. You could finally play games like Tomb Raider 2, Persona 3, and X-Men Legends 2 and feel like you had a portable version of a “real” console experience.
2. Easy HDMI Connection
Ever want to play your handheld systems on a TV? Oftentimes, this was difficult to set up. For Game Boy games, you needed a Super Game Boy and a SNES, or a GameCube and proper adapter (which would also let you play Game Boy Color and Game Boy Advance games).
For the PSP, though, you simply needed the right HDMI cables. And unlike some classic gaming cables, these are still relatively cheap and easy to find for your PSP-to-TV needs.
3. Convenient Different Versions
Not counting simple cosmetic variants, there were three different versions of the PSP. And conveniently enough, each version has its own particular strengths.
For example, the PSP-1000 was the original model, and in addition to being a design classic, this is the version that is easiest to mod for homebrew. If you just want to play base games with a battery that lasts longer and is replaceable, the PSP-3000 is your best bet.
Finally, the PSPgo is perfect for gamers who just want to play digital titles instead of physical titles. And it’s interesting to note that Sony pioneered this idea back in 2009, long before gamers had to choose whether their new PS5 or new Xbox would be able to play physical games.
4. Ridge Racer and Ridge Racer 2
The original Ridge Racer helped make the original PlayStation a major hit. Later, the PSP games Ridge Racer and Ridge Racer 2 became some of the best reasons to buy this handheld system.
These games brought a fusion of an awesome soundtrack and slick gameplay that we hadn’t seen since Ridge Racer Type 4. As an added bonus, you can download and play a perfect version of R4 whenever you want!
5. Killer Audio
One area where most handhelds are lacking is audio quality. For example, with a Nintendo DS or 3DS, the only way to get something approaching decent audio quality is to listen via headphones.
But the PSP and its speakers had really solid audio right out of the box. Sony loved to market the PSP’s ability to play movies from UMDs and memory sticks. And with audio quality this good, it actually felt like a real multimedia experience.
6. Metal Gear AC!D 1 and 2
This is probably the most controversial item on this list. Even among diehard Metal Gear franchise fans, there is intense debate over whether these games are a worthy entry in the series.
But once you get past the card-based gameplay, you’ll discover a rich world of different tactical options. And with Hideo Kojima as one of the games’ producers, you know you’re in for a wild and unforgettable story.
7. Easy USB Support
Sometimes, it’s the little things that impress us the most. And when it comes to the PSP, one of the most impressive things was its USB support.
You can simply plug the system directly into your computer. This made it easy to charge and to this day makes it easy for you to make modifications to the system. When it came to user-friendly USB support, Sony was really ahead of the game.
8. Jeanne d’Arc
When you read lists of awesome RPGs, you’re not likely to see Jeanne d’Arc on that list. But that’s only because this jaw-dropping RPG has been criminally underrated.
The gameplay is fast and full of tactical options as well as great character designs and graphics. The PSP is one of the best ways to play RPGs, and it is the only way to play this killer game.
9. Ongoing Homebrew Love
On a related note to the system being easy to hack, there is an ongoing homebrew scene for the PSP. This means that you can continue to enjoy new games, apps, and functionality long after Sony gave up on this system.
Just check out the PSP Awakening game jam of 2020. That event alone shows that this classic system still gets a lot of homebrew love from modern gamers.
10. Metal Gear Solid: Portable Ops
For Metal Gear fans, the early days of the PSP were a bit mixed. The Metal Gear AC!D games were interesting, but they didn’t play at all like Metal Gear Solid.
However, Portable Ops finally brought those familiar gameplay mechanics to a portable system. And the game itself is an unforgettable adventure that you can only play on the PSP.
11. So Easy to Hack
For retro gamers, hacking systems will never go out of style. The right hacks can turn systems like a Nintendo 3DS into a perfect (if legally murky) way to play all of the old NES, SNES, and Genesis games you want (not to mention DS and 3DS games).
Unfortunately, the 3DS is notoriously difficult to hack, and a single screwup can brick your whole system. Compared to that, the PSP is easy to hack no matter your level of skill. And as a bonus, a hacked PSP can play original PlayStation games perfectly, something that other hacked systems struggle with.
12. Comfortable to Hold
Remember getting a blister from intense sessions with your old Game Boys and Game Boy Advances? That mostly came down to a combination of frustrating games and uncomfortable system design.
But when you play on the PSP, the first thing you will notice is how ergonomic it really is. Your fingers are far less likely to get blistered or tired, even when you do marathon gaming sessions.
13. Final Fantasy VII: Crisis Core
For better or for worse, we have seen plenty of spinoff media surrounding Final Fantasy VII. But most fans have never played the best spinoff: Crisis Core.
Players take control of Zack, and you get plenty of awesome background for characters and events in the original FF7. Gameplay is fast, fresh, and exciting. And this game has never been ported, meaning PSP is your only real way to play it.
14. Widescreen Design
When you go back to older handhelds, the boxy screen is always a bit of a shock. All of your other media comes from a nice, widescreen, so returning to the days of 4:3 perspective is a shock.
However, the PSP launched with a beautiful widescreen design. This screen still looks great today, with fans using hacked systems to read books and comics in addition to playing games and watching movies.