Gaming PSP

PSP Firmware upgrade 2.70 is out

I am, as I am writing this, in the process of upgrading my PSP (version 2.0 firmware) to the very latest firmware 2.70. The only homebrew program that I used was a snes emulator, and only infrequently at that.

So, with the new possibility of downloadable demos, RSS channels, wma playback, downloadable videos, I am swayed to upgrading.

Note : this is the us version of the software I’m linking to. For European users, try But updating was a simple as activating my wireless network connection and choosing ‘network update’. Done !

Plus I bought Socom Fireteam Bravo today, which requires at least firmware 2.60. It includes a headset with microphone, and I am really looking forward to trying this out !

Update : seems that Firmware 2.70 blocks the GTA exploit – which was to be expected…

Gaming PSP

Tales of Eternia update.

Whenever I have some spare time I have been playing Tales of Eternia on my PSP. A small review seems to have appeared in my head, structured as this :

GamePlay in general
The story, while very corny and often just plain strange, is actually quite good, with some twists and surprises, and I keep having this feeling that there is more going on behind the scenes, something I usually don’t have nowadays, being old and wise and having seen it all ofcourse… At the start everything is very goody doody, nobody dies. There is even this mystery cook that hides in different forms of furniture and teaches you different recipes. These recipes can then be used to regain health or cure yourself, provided you have the right ingredients.

But play on, and a bit further on in the game you come back to a village where all the people are lying dead in the streets, and you realise that there is a (smallish) bite to this story. There is even a small mini-game that will psych-profile you – you respond to a loooong list of questions and it will tell you to which Craymel (god-like beings that your party must collect to save the world) you relate the most to.

Battle System
The battle system can be annoying when you just want to explore, as it keeps on generating random encounters, mostly starting them when you don’t want to. After a while though, you just wack through them.
Sometimes these battles can be a bit hard, but with some adjusting of your characters and their equipment you can go a long way. For example, from time to time when you win a battle you collect amulets with different properties (healing, or 10% extra strength, or 10% protection from damage). Sometimes they only protect against ice or fire or earth, and you have to equip them when you are facing the enemy that is vulnerable against them.

So there is actually a small amount of tactics involved, selecting different weapons/amulets/skills against different enemies.

But it is BORING in the extreme fighting the same beasts and animals time and time again.

No 3D except for some mini games and the map. Most of the story happens in towns in 2D, but o boy, I really like the 2D drawings here (and luckely, most of the games plays there).
The whole scene looks like it came out of a story book picture, and to my eye seems anti-aliased, at least enough to get a very smooth look. Animations are provided for most things, and you can really notice the attention to detail that pervades the whole game. Fires flicker and burn, mirrors reflect, water moves, lights twinkle…
The 3D parts come to play when you wander around the map between the different towns. This is in a Crappy3D(tm) format that really detracts from wandering around, you get the feeling that this was bolted on somehow. Some mini-games also come in 3D, like controlling a speeding train, and are executed much better.

System Integration
Saving and loading goes very quickly. One niggle. If you are fast enough and just tap the buttons without looking, it can happen that you mispress and instead of saving, you actually delete a save game. It happened to me several times before I caught on, so now I take my time saving, and I random save between 5 different positions (I always saved the most recent at the top, but that was also the one I deleted the most !).

Turning off your psp stores the game, and it restores actually pretty quickly. However, when you get the graphics, best to wait a few seconds for the umd to start whirring, no gaps then.

Overall Score : 8/10
This is a great game for the PSP, giving you lots of hours to play, it can be put aside and picked up again as needed. Recommended for the casual RPG gamer (RPG as defined by consoles !). I’m giving it only an 8 as I’m sure that there will be better games in the future…


2 new PSP titles added : GTA & Steamboy

Thursday I added 2 new PSP titles to my collection, the game ‘GTA : Liberty Stories’ and an UMD movie called ‘Steamboy’, both bought second-hand in a specialty shop in Leuven.

I’ve heard enough good things from GTA not to pick it up for 35 euros (5 euros more expensive than on eBay) and when I saw the semi-new movie ‘Steamboy’ on sale for 10 euros, I picked that up as well. And truth to tell, I bought GTA also for it’s collector value; it’s the game you need with firmware 2.50 that allows you to run homebrew software via a savegame corruption. I reckon in the next few months or years it’ll be sought after, as I think Sony will be more vigilant than ever in checking any titles coming out for it’s platform.

My PSP collection is growing larger than anticipated. Strangely enough I play mostly one game, Tales of Eternia, I haven’t even started watching the steamboy movie. I don’t think it is greed from my part as much as it is thinking ahead. I can imagine several things I might be doing (a long train ride, vacation time) where I wouldn’t mind watching a movie or playing a game. It’s for those days I’m buying these games and now a movie.

At least, that’s what I tell myself…

Blog News PSP

Tales of Eternia

Woot !

Today I purchased Tales of Eternia for the PSP. It’s supposed to come out tomorrow, but the shop owners had already put it in the store. And since I have a few days off, this is a very nice way to while some time away.

Provided I get the time to while away, of course. 🙂

It’s about time the PSP got some new games, there has been absolutely nothing released since the Christmas season last year. Almost 2 months without a new game appearing on the shelves.
Apparently in March we should see some more titles.

Meanwhile, my first impressions on Tales of Eternia : smooth, 2D, old-style RPG. Don’t expect the latest visual trickery or new-style interface. This is RPG like I played them when I was young and childless !

Blog News Hardware PSP

Sony : Memory sticks now up to 8 GB

The PSP fansites are abuzz with the fact that Sony has announced new memory stick produo cards with a capacity of 4 and 8 Gigabytes. I’ve seen several reactions in the bulletin boards by crazed iso collectors (aka pirates) that are just craving for these capacities to store their whole collection of games and ripped movies.

Too bad they will probably need a firmware upgrade to use the 8 GB stick, which will render their isos useless.
(Unless ofcourse, they will write their own firmware – now that I’ve read about what some of these coders are doing, I won’t underestimate them !)

And of course, for all of us : the godawful price you’ll have to pay to get one !

Blog News PSP

PSP Firmware Comparison Chart from PSP-Vault

In my web statistics I’ve recently noticed several Google searches that look for more info on what you can do with a psp and at what firmware.

For those people, following PSP Firmware Comparison Chart will help you get a better picture of which firmware can do what.

And for all those people looking for UMD-launchers or how to run pirated games from a memory stick, I’ll complete the overview from the above website :

  • You can only run pirate copies of software from a 1.00 or 1.50 firmware. Why ? Because you need kernel access to use an UMD launcher, and from 2.00 upwards the kernel is encrypted.
  • Certain games already *need* 2.00 to run, and you can expect newer games to require 2.50 or higher and you can also expect that this will keep happening.
  • New PSP’s in Europe have firmware 2.00 or later installed on them.
Blog News Programming PSP

Python on the PSP

I have a programming urge coming over me. They come and go. Usually they leave when I realise (once again) how much hard work has to go into something before it is somewhat playable or workable. However, lately at work I wrote some bash and python scripts that really worked and had some useful output !

Sooo, what better to look at programming than trying to write the latest app or game for my psp that millions will download and enjoy so much they will elevate me to programmer god ?

I know.
I’m just kidding.

But the urge to go forth and create something is still there.

There are some tutorials floating around on the web on how to start programming your psp using the psp sdk kit (you need either cygwin or linux). I looked them over, but didn’t like it. I don’t have enough time to start learning C or C++ again. Plus pointers still make me shudder.

So I looked to other possibilities, like the luaplayer, which lets you write lua programs that ‘play’ on your psp.

Nah, don’t have time to learn lua either. So what can I still do to scratch that (psp) programming urge ? PSP Basic ? Doesn’t exist (yet). Python ? Hey ! Look what Google found !

I found a site by a french guy who has already ported python to the psp, including some standard modules. He also added a tutorial to it that is really good and explains a lot.

Also, his blog makes for some strange readings !

If only… I had more time. Like I used to have, back when I was 20+ and still living at home. Not now when I have two kids to take care of and a full life. I can look at this code, even install it on my psp maybe and test it, but I don’t have the urge to continue and develop stuff using it.

Gah. Guess my urge to program is over.

Blog News Links PSP Websites Caught !

Some good PSP links

More a note to myself than anything else, this is a collection of some good psp links :

Blog News Hardware PSP

Firmware, PSP games & Recharging

Firmware :
For the moment I’m staying with my psp 2.0 firmware.
The only reason to downgrade to 1.5 would seem to be the UMD loaders that allow you to play pirated games. I’m not going to go that way.
The only reason to upgrade would be the new RSS capability and some new codecs and download capability to memory stick. I’ll wait, thank you. It works fine as it is.

Games :
Meanwhile I’ve bought several games, here’s a quick overview and a personal score :

  • XMen II Apocalypse : quite a good game, sorta RPG, topdown view, lots of stuff to do (3/5)
  • Ridge Racer : I bought this second hand, as I wanted to at least own one driving game, but it’s so darn good that I keep coming back to it time and time again for a quick fix ! I understand better now how people could become slaves to racing games like this… (4/5)
  • King Kong : some white lines mar the game, and the controls are not all they could be (but you can try different layouts). I’ve only progressed a little bit, need to play some more, but so far it’s scary. (TBD)
  • Lord of the Rings Tactics : bought, but still haven’t played it. I almost regret buying this. (TBD)

I still need a good rpg : Popolocrois for psp seems to fit the bill, if it ever gets released here in Europe. Meanwhile I’ve installed a SNES emulator (via a bootloader for firmware 2.0) and ChronoTrigger. Amazing what Square could cram into 3 Mbyte !!

All these games should be more than enough to keep me occupied !

I think, once I’ve finished a few games like King Kong or Tactics, that I will sell these secondhand and pick up a new one from there. Prices for psp games are extremely expensive, they should really, really lower the price, and this is coming from a working guy, not a young guy with a chronic shortage of pocket money !

Recharging :
I am amazed : It seems as if Sony has done a major job of keeping the power consumption extremely low when you put your machine on standby. Keeping your psp on ‘standby’ (instead of really switching it off where you need to keep the off position pressed for 5 to 10 seconds) seems almost not to use any power at all. Reactivation is (almost) instantaneous.

I continue to be amazed : I thought my battery would run flat in less than a day, but I can comfortably play my game mornings or evenings in the train (both morning and evening seldom happens – when there are friends on the train they take precedence) and not even get to two bars down (ie the battery still reports as full). However, if you play an hour or 3 the battery does suddenly drop a bar down. Maybe it is the game I play : XMen does not use the UMD disc all the time, which seems to consume the most power.