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PSP Fanboy review: Star Ocean: First Departure

RPG fanatics have probably heard this tale before, but there's a bit of history behind the very first Star Ocean game. Back in 1995, a majority of the team that created Tales of Phantasia (which was released stateside on the Game Boy Advance back in 2006) left Namco due to creative differences. The team moved onto Tri-Ace, whose debut title was Star Ocean. One of the last games for the aging Super Famicom, the RPG pushed the console to its limits in terms of the cartridge size and graphics. The game even had limited voice-acting, which was unheard of (no pun intended) in those days. The question is, does this remake of the first game in the classic franchise have what it takes to stand out in the portable gaming market?

Gallery: Star Ocean: The First Departure

Continue reading PSP Fanboy review: Star Ocean: First Departure

Users report screen issues with PSP Brite, Sony investigating

The newly released PSP-3000 series should have a better screen than the old 2000 model. Not only does it have an expanded color depth, it's supposed to get rid of the ghosting that plagued every PSP since. While it succeeds, it appears that a new problem has emerged: scan lines, which make things look worse than they did in the 2000 model. A well-populated thread on the PlayStation forum shows the cries of dozens that are reporting the same problem.

Our test unit (which arrived today) also features the same problem. In fact, we're not digging the 3000 model at all. While the colors look nice, we're disappointed by its performance in sunlight. Even worse, the plastic on the new model feels cheaper than ever before.

Sony told Joystiq that they're currently "looking into this." Hopefully, it'll only take a firmware update to fix -- otherwise, many may opt to buy the 2000 series instead.

Tom Clancy's EndWar coming to PSP this November

Ubisoft is bringing yet another Tom Clancy game to the handhelds. This time, EndWar is getting the PSP treatment. The upcoming game takes place during World War III. Players take control of the U.S. Joint Strike Force, European Enforcers Corps or Russian Spetsnaz Guards Brigade in three separate (but intertwined) campaigns. Each campaign includes over 30 battle scenarios taking place on real-world battlefields including Paris and London.

EndWar also features two-player versus multiplayer mode, including additional missions specifically designed for multiplayer battles. There's also a mission editor, which allows players to share and create custom battlefields and scenarios. Expect EndWar on November 4th.

Gallery: Tom Clancy's EndWar

Engadget unboxes PSP-3000

So you've probably already seen the dismantled Japanese PSP Brite and took a look at what's underneath that shiny exterior. Now, how about watching the North American bundle get unboxed? While the Engadget crew has opted out of tearing their precious handheld apart, we do get to have a comprehensive look at all the goods inside the retail box. If you're planning on getting a PSP Brite for yourself, then check out the pics here and see what awaits.

New Dissidia vid shows off some summons

There are summoned creatures in the 'dramatic progressive action' title Dissidia: Final Fantasy, but they may not be exactly what you'd expect them to be. They pop up as static 2D images during gameplay -- no fancy FMVs here, folks. You can check out two of the summons (Ifrit and Carbuncle) in the trailer posted above.

Summon creatures appear upon pressing the R trigger together with the circle button. In the case of Ifrit, summons appear as equipable items (as represented on the HUD). Judging by the way they're used in the trailer, the summons primarily affect the Brave gauge -- Carbuncle adjusts the enemy's Brave to match the player's, while boosts a player's Brave by 1.5.

Downloadable games will 'ignite' PSP library, says Sony exec

"I have to be careful what I say but publishers are definitely exploring more opportunities in terms of the types of games they can release on PSP, even in terms of more female-oriented games, puzzlers and less hardcore games," Zeno Colaço, vice president of publisher and developer relations for Sony Computer Entertainment Europe, told Pocket Gamer. "The opportunity we're providing with digital distribution will ignite those thoughts."

The release of firmware 5.00 has enabled direct access to the PlayStation Store from the PSP system. The incorporation of the Store shows a growing emphasis on the importance of digital distribution on Sony's handheld. While original games on the Store have been limited to just a handful of games (beats, Syphon Filter: Combat Ops), publishers have slowly been moving their entire UMD catalog onto the Store. For example, D3 Publisher has made Dead Head Fred, Puzzle Quest, and PQ2 all available on the Store.

By providing developers and publishers a way of making games without relying on retail or UMD, the Store gives companies a chance to make all new kinds of games on the system. The opportunity to sell smaller games directly to PSP owners at higher profit, with less chance of piracy, should look attractive to many. Hopefully, it won't be long until we start seeing new games coming from this endeavor.

[Via GameDaily]

Neverland Card Battles hits retail Oct. 28

Neverland Card Battles looks like another game that S-RPG fans would want to sink their teeth into. We've played it previously (check out our hands-on), and we think it's a fun title. Yuke's finally announced a release date for the game; that's October 28 for North America. That's only 10 days away. To keep yourself busy until then, have a look at trailers here and here.

[Via press release]

Ask PSP Fanboy: Volume 43

Ask PSP Fanboy

It's the end of the week, which calls for a new volume of Ask PSP Fanboy! Each week we'll collect your questions, and each weekend a new volume of Ask PSP Fanboy will appear on the front page. If you've got a question, send an email to justin.eaton @ weblogsinc .com with the subject "Ask PSP Fanboy."

Q. The PSP-3000 comes out in October - When do you think Sony will release some information about the PSP 2?
A. We've got a while before we start hearing official information about a revamped PSP. Sony should remain focused on the PSP-3000 through much of 2009.

Q. Will the PlayStation Portable ever rumble?
A. Adding rumble to the Playstation Portable would require another hardware refresh, unless third party manufacturers were able to develop an add-on device. With the amount of time it took Sony to bring rumble to the SIXAXIS controllers, I'd say we've got a while before rumble makes it's way to the PSP.

Q. Can you explain why MP4 videos play on the PSP, and why MKVs, DivX, Xvid or AVI are not supported besides not having the codec? Is there a hardware dependency that the PSP would require so the video does not play slow, lag or have a stuttering effect?
A. The hardware isn't limited, Sony simply hasn't added support for the various codecs. It may be the system's limited memory (can it fit all the codecs on the 32MB relegated to firmware use?). Or, it may be licensing issues: Sony had to pay for DivX on PS3 -- will they want to do the same on PSP? The PSP is a powerful handheld. If these codecs are used, there's no reason you'd see lag or stuttering.

Continue reading Ask PSP Fanboy: Volume 43

Dissidia may be a downloadable title too

Back at TGS, we reported that all of the Sony's upcoming first-party titles in Japan were being made available as a download -- even high-profile ones like Resistance Retribution. The price point for at least some of the downloadable versions will also be lower. No plans were announced regarding third-party titles.

However, a reader over at Siliconera noticed a listing on Sony's official website that might suggest otherwise: Dissidia: Final Fantasy is categorized as both as a UMD and downloadable release on the site. If this is proven to be true, it could be great news for Final Fantasy fans with access to the Japanese PS Store -- you can just download the title directly.

[Via Siliconera]

Watch: Neverland Card Battles gameplay

In preparation of the upcoming release of Neverland Card Battles for PSP, Yukes has sent out a brand new gameplay trailer of the game for PSP Fanboy readers. Keep in mind, this is based on an earlier PS2 game which never saw the light of day here in the States. While the localization effort appears strong, will it have what it takes to stand out in the crowded genre of the SRPG? Take a look for yourself.

Gallery: Neverland Card Battles

American PSN Store update for October 16th

Check out that headline. Finally PSP owners have graduated from the "better than nothing" PC Store to the ultra-sexy direct PSP Store. Content updates don't seem to have substantially improved for either region (Europe saw no new PSP content yet again, this week), but Rome wasn't built in a day. American PSP owners will be able to grab two new UMD Legacy titles, a PS1 game and a demo. If you're interested in funny games that didn't sell well enough, Dead Head Fred is your best bet for this week. Here's the full list:

  • Dead Head Fred full PSP game ($14.99)
  • PQ2: Practical Intelligence Quotient full PSP game ($14.99)
  • Sno-Cross Championship Racing PS1 game ($5.99)
  • Lego Batman demo (free)

PSP2 concept is far cooler than the reality will ever be

Look at that floppy screen. We want it. This PSP2 concept is certainly very pretty, but don't get too excited. We'd be very surprised if this ever exists. We're not sure where the concept images come from, but we found them over at the technology site DVICE. Check out the fold-away screen and the (dual analogue, naturally) controls on the cylindrical body. We're not sure how practical it would be, but it certainly looks great.

There are more images to see over at DVICE. PSP2 may or may not be in development but we'd put money on this not being the final design. The price alone would be incredibly prohibitive (though judging from the PS3, that wouldn't worry Sony). Still, we'd be willing to pay a considerable amount if it really could play Resident Evil 5, as the images suggest.

TGS 08 hands-on: Bleach Soul Carnival

There are probably two questions our readers are most likely to have about Bleach: Soul Carnival, PSP's upcoming 2D chibi-reworking of the popular Shonen Jump series. First: is it good? Second: will it come out to the States? In spite of a strong following in the States (and a slew of other Bleach titles on the Wii and DS), it doesn't appear as if there are any plans on bringing any of Sony's Bleach games out of Japan. And that's a shame, really. Soul Carnival looks to be a worthwhile addition to the PSP lineup.

The Heat the Soul series on PSP were met with fan excitement, thanks to their diverse rosters and impressive graphics. However, with five iterations in less than five years, it was clear that Sony had milked that franchise a bit too much. With Soul Carnival, the Bleach series moves away from being a serious fighter, to a cute 2D sidescrolling brawler.

Well, we approve of the transformation. While the chibi Bleach characters will be love/hate amongst series fans, we have to say that these new cute interpretations of series favs looks rather charming on the PSP's small screen. They style works very well with the gameplay as well. The intuitive beat-em-up controls make the game instantly accessible -- an aspect crucial in good portable games design.

Gallery: Bleach Soul Carnival

Continue reading TGS 08 hands-on: Bleach Soul Carnival

Shonen Jump reveals Final Fantasy Agito XIII battle screen

We've known for some time that Final Fantasy Agito XIII will be using a modified version of the ATB system used in Crisis Core, but now we finally have the first screenshot of how that battle system will look like, thanks to the latest issue of Shonen Jump. The headline of this short article confirms that multiplayer will be a big focus for the game -- earlier reports indicate both Infrastructure and Ad-Hoc multiplayer will be included -- this will sit well with Japanese PSP owners who seem to love the Ad-Hoc mode in games like Phantasy Star Portable. Check out the full scans over at PSPHyper.

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