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Macross Ace Frontier number one seller in Japan

It's been a while since we've seen a PSP title top the Japanese sales charts. Well, surprise surprise: a PSP anime-licensed game has taken the top spot in Japan. With over 100,000 units pushed in a week, Macross Ace Frontier is an unsurprising victor to this week's charts, edging out a slew of DS and PS2 games, like Pokemon Platinum and Dynasty Warriors 6 Special.
  • 01. Macross Ace Frontier (PSP)
  • 02. Pokemon Platinum (DS)
  • 03. Rhythm Tengoku Gold (DS)
  • 04. Dynasty Warriors 6 Special (PS2)
  • 05. Super Robot Wars Z (PS2)
  • 06. Wii Fit (Wii)
  • 07. Mario Kart Wii (Wii)
  • 08. Powerful Major League 3 (PS2)
  • 09. Dragonball DS (DS)
  • 10. Daigasso! Band Brothers DX (DS)

How Japan advertises the PSP-3000

While the PSP Brite may be launching rather stealthily in America, Japan is taking a different approach. Sony has two ads for the newly redesigned system, one for the black system and one for the white. The system isn't changed too much, but at least Sony Japan's customers will know that this system exists -- something we doubt Sony America will let happen here at all.

See the other ad, after the break.

Continue reading How Japan advertises the PSP-3000

PSP Firmware 5.00 now available

The recently-announced PSP firmware 5.00 is now available for download. Just hit Network Update on your PSP, or download it here and copy it to your Memory Stick (it should look like this: X:/PSP/GAME/UPDATE/EBOOT.PBP). This update includes:
  • The [PlayStaiton Network] category has been added, and [PlayStation Store] is now available under this category.
  • PlayStation format software can now be output in interlace format on a connected device.
  • PlayStation format software can now be output in full-screen size on a connected device.
  • The sleep timer feature can now be used under [Music].
  • The system will automatically change to USB mode when a USB Cable is connected.
  • The [Original] theme has been redesigned.
[Thanks, lorderk!]

PSP firmware 5.00 also coming soon to US, PC Store temporarily down

While firmware 5.00 was confirmed for Japanese release this week, it appears that America will also follow suit. The big update in 5.00 is the ability to access the PSN and PLAYSTATION Store directly from the PSP. The PC-based Store will be temporarily down in the interim.

While this is great for our Mac-owning friends that weren't able to purchase games in the past, this deal will be far more enticing if it ensured that our weekly PSN updates were slightly more robust than wallpaper downloads. Let's hope that the US can have a downloadable lineup as great as Japan's.

TGS 08: Firmware 5.00 and PlayStation Store launch next week

The PLAYSTATION Network is coming to the PSP next week -- at least in Japan. Firmware 5.00 will be available on October 15th and will add the built-in PlayStation Store under the new XMB category.

Japan will then get a regular release of downloadable titles through the rest of the holiday season. Games include:
  • Yuusha no Kuze ni Namaikida or2 (10/16)
  • Bleach Soul Carnival (10/23)
  • Secret Agent Clank (11/20)
  • Patapon 2 (11/27)
  • LocoRoco 2 (12/4)
  • Resistance Retribution
Notice how every SCE first-party title is downloadable, including Resistance Retribution? It looks like Sony is finally ready to give up on UMD ... or at least give consumers a viable alternative.

What Sony's John Koller thinks about the DSi

So what does Sony think about the newly announced DSi, the main competitor to Sony's PSP Brite in Japan this holiday season?

We didn't even have to ask -- because Sony's John Koller, director of hardware marketing, approached Gizmodo directly in hopes of discussing their side of the story. Does this new iteration provide enough differentiation from its predecessor? "Nintendo has kind of a history of these [moderate] kinds of updates, and even with DS Lite, there was a lot of discussion, 'Is that enough?' And they seemed to do pretty well there."

How will the DSi fare? "I can see the DSi being successful. The DS lite was obviously very successful. Will DSi do well with [the DS's] demographic? It probably will. Will it be a product that expands their user base [beyond] under 12? I'm not sure." Unfortunately, Koller did not directly address how the DS's hardware refresh compares to the PSP's hardware refresh. But it did seem like Koller was giving a backhanded compliment to Nintendo's handheld -- it will do reasonably well, but you'll only be selling it to children again. How do you guys feel? Do these hardware refreshes matter? Or is it ultimately software that determines the winner?

PSP Brite preview reveals battery life and details on firmware 4.20

Eurogamer got some hands-on time with the PSP Brite (PSP-3000) and spilled some details on the upcoming piece of hardware as well as the firmware installed on it, version 4.20.

In terms of the hardware, they noticed that the screen was significantly brighter; the PSP Brite's highest brightness setting not plugged in to an outlet is noticeably brighter than the PSP Slim & Lite's brightest setting with the PSP plugged in. Unfortunately, they did not test the PSP Brite's performance in the sun, which was something we were looking forward to finding out. The battery life was then tested, and they clocked the PSP Brite's battery life at 5 and a half hours -- exactly the same as its predecessor.

The PSP also came equipped with the latest firmware. Firmware 4.20 appears to bring only minor updates -- there is a new "USB Auto-Connect" feature, which will allow the PSP to automatically enter USB mode at any time (except during gameplay) when it becomes connected. They also noticed a "Flicker Reduction" option, but nothing else noteworthy. For their full preview of the PSP Brite, check out Eurogamer.

[Thanks, Zach M.!]

PSP is number 1 in Japan the first half of 2008

During the past few weeks the PSP's sales have been less than ideal, but Sony's portable is still on top in Japan for 2008 ... so far. According the Enterbrain, the PSP has sold 1,583,731 units the first half of the year in the land of the rising sun. The PSP's main competitor, Nintendo's DS, sold 1,314,919 units during that same period. Nintendo's portable is still way ahead of the PSP in terms of lifetime sales though -- 23,484,680 units of the DS were sold versus the PSP's 10,157,757 units sold.

In the software arena, Monster Hunter Portable 2nd G is in second place with 1,602,386 copies sold. It was beaten by yet another Nintendo product, Mario Kart Wii, which sold 1,744,387 copies.

With the PSP Brite launching in about two weeks and DSi launching in a month, the two handhelds' struggle for dominance in Japan will truly begin. Now we gotta ask: who are you rooting for?

Rumor: Firmware 5.0 = PS Store, new RSS, screen capture

It wasn't too long ago that firmware 4.0 (and higher) dropped on our laps, and we're already hearing about the next major revision to hit the handheld: the big five-o. The word on the street (and by street we mean French website PSPGen) is that firmware 5.0 is currently in the hands of an unknown French dev studio and it will include several key features such as that direct-to-PS Store functionality we've heard so much about.

Other features like a revamped RSS reader would (*gasp*) be able to read text files. The inclusion of a screen capture tool echoes another rumor which is also said to be available in the upcoming PS3 Firmware 2.5. Regarding this, parallel development for screen grabs does seem to make a whole lot of sense.

[Via PSPWorld]

Three unannounced PSP games to be shown at TGS

While Sony will be showing off nine unannounced PS3 titles at this year's Tokyo Game Show, they'll be showing off three new games for the PSP. All of the games will be published by SCEI, meaning they'll either be new IPs, or extensions of currently popular Sony franchises.

Some of the known titles to be showcase at TGS this year include Kingdom Hearts: Birth by Sleep, Dissidia: Final Fantasy, Patapon 2, Bleach: Soul Carnival, and Loco Roco 2. For the complete list (in English), visit PSP-Hyper.

Hawaiian bus driver loves his PSP a little too much

Last week in Hawaii, Ms. Denita Waltz was horrified to see the driver of her bus engaging in something else besides, you know, bus driving -- he was enjoying some gaming on his favorite portable, the PSP. Not only that, he was "speeding on the highway," and he "had his legs and feet up on the dashboard."

Waltz wasted no time and took out her trusty cell phone and begin recording the multitasker in action. When the bus stopped, Waltz and her son hurried off the bus. Oahn Transit Services has suspended said driver, who is an eighteen-year veteran with no complaints lodged against him in the last three years, without pay pending an investigation.

Children, don't play and drive!

[Via MaxConsole]

Sony's Koller ignores holiday 2008, promises better 2009

"I think going into next year we're going to see significant growth. We're counseling retail to be ready for it. We have a number of very strong franchise games on the docket that will be launching next year," John Koller responded to Edge's troubling report on the decline of PSP software. "We haven't gone public with those, and many third-parties have not yet either because they're concentrating on holiday, but we have a number of very strong titles coming."

While we understand that many of these unannounced titles may be far off from now, we're a bit saddened to see Sony (and their third party partners) remain so secretive about the upcoming 2009 lineup. Right now, it appears Sony is abandoning holiday 2008 altogether. How will they drum up support for the handheld this Christmas season, when they've shown no guarantees of what will be available in the coming months? Sony -- it's time to stop playing the same ol' game of secrecy. Now, when your customers are losing faith in your system, is when you should bypass the typical product marketing schedule -- and you give us something to get excited about.

The decline of PSP software, in graph form

Edge has created a chart which illustrates something we all know: PSP has lost software support.

Well, thanks a lot jerks. When you put it in graph form like this, obviously it's going to hurt. (sobs)

But in all seriousness, the piece does an excellent job in articulating the finer details of PSP's slow loss of support. In spite of the smaller games library this year, the percentage of exclusives is also steadily dropping. While this piece could be yet another mantra against piracy and the likes, we want to direct you to an excellent piece by PSP World, which offers an alternative: it's all Xbox's fault. Kris Erickson postulates that a number of excellent XBLA games would be perfect for play on PSP. We'd agree. Developers may be moving resources to XBLA, away from PSP, when thinking up short, accessible games that would play well on handhelds. An interesting theory, yes. However, we're confident that upcoming PSN ports of Super Stardust and Everyday Shooter are just the beginning of a slew of downloadable PSP games.

Yoshida really, really disappointed by lack of third party support

Worldwide Studios president Shuhei Yoshida recently lamented the state of PSP in an interview with IGN UK. He notes that third party support for Sony's handheld has been "really, really disappointing," calling the current sitation "a lost opportunity for the third parties." He's echoed this sentiment before.

"They should look at what the PSP can do for their titles and the potential for the business that their IP has," he says, pointing out Sony's first-party support of the handheld through titles like God of War, Resistance and Buzz!. Of course, Yoshida's job is to convince third party developers to support the platform. His strategy? "We have to show by examples. What's happening in Japan is interesting - because of the massive success of Monster Hunter, Japanese publishers realise, 'here's a resource'. Lots of people are playing PSP in groups of fours and when you go to Japan it's hard to find a train or a bar where you don't see some people playing a PSP. So other publishers in Japan are seeing these consumers, and thinking, 'Wow, we can make games for those consumers'."

Koei to unveil new PSP games at Tokyo Game Show

Koei president Kenji Matsubara spoke recently with Gamasutra about making third party titles in Japan. More important to our readers, part of that discussion involved PSP. Pointing to the PSP's success with Monster Hunter Portable 2nd G (yes, everything comes back around to Monster Hunter PSP savior), Matsubara said it is encouraging to make games for the PSP as opposed to other tougher markets (the PS3 and 360).

In line with this, Koei has acted accordingly by revealing plans to announce new PSP titles at this year's Tokyo Game Show in October. What those titles are, it won't say, but we're certainly curious to find out. Deducing from the article, it sounds like Koei is aiming to make a game that utilizes Monster Hunter's team-focused gameplay. Hmm, perhaps a game where Guan Yu and friends go around Han Dynasty China looking to slay mythical creatures? We wouldn't be surprised ...

Anyway, don't get too excited yet. While Koei sings a PSP paean, it can't deny a lack of enthusiasm from Western markets. Perhaps, these new games will be Japan-only. Stay tuned, we'll have more from TGS next month.

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