You know, in most cases, I wouldn’t exactly look back at a “semi” recent console for Throwback Thursday, but this one is topical! On Tuesday, June 3rd, Sony announced that they will be cease shipments of the handheld in lieu of the new value packs for the PlayStation Vita.
For people who have been following Falcom’s recent works, this is a time for a moment of silence. The PSP was, afterall, the system of choice when the company decided to jump to console from the PC. They considered a number of consoles, but it would seem that the PlayStation Portable would be the best suited for them. Since then, they have jumped to the PlayStation Vita, the PlayStation 3, and have even confirmed that they have a PlayStation 4 devkit on hand in their offices.
The PSP saw four models (three of which are seen above), the heavy, brick-like 1000 units, which soon were released to the slimmer, less clunky 2000 series. The 2000 series units saw better software caching to cut down on load times and make the games play much, much better. The 3000 units came out with other minor adjustments, and a large variety of colors (especially the gorgeous Carnival Colors- that’s the Vibrant Blue 3000 unit in the picture above. Not pictured is the fourth, pspGo, which had no UMD drive, internal memory, and had a very compact form factor to it. This was an interesting concept that people had issues getting on board on, but how many of the ideas of the pspGo went into the development of the PlayStation Vita?
However, we can’t forget this legacy they began when they released Gurumin for the console on 6/29/2006, little did many of us realize what kind of era this would be for the company. Thankfully, this game has been released in English by Mastiff, and is even now available for digital purchase on the Playstation Store in North America.
Who knows where Falcom would be today without this wonderful handheld, however? You look back at their releases to see how prolific they were. Even with XSEED’s releases. Until Memories of Celceta came out, they were either on Steam or the PSP.
Beyond Gurumin, it was Sora no Kiseki/Trails in the Sky that got the big experimentation with the handheld console. While the three games now have HD Remasters playable on the PS3, moving the Kiseki series to console was crucial in its continuation. It was during this point when Falcom’s PC game distribution fell apart and they needed to reach out somewhere to continue to produce their titles. It would take them three years to release the fourth title of the Kiseki series- The Legend of Heroes Zero no Kiseki was released as the second exclusive (Ys Seven was the first) title to the PSP. These two titles marked a big change in the company’s direction.
The PSP would also see Falcom’s 30th anniversary title, The Legend of Heroes Ao no Kiseki- the continuation of Zero no Kiseki.
With the release of the Playstation Vita, there were growing worries as Falcom had every Kiseki title available digitally, except for one: Sora no Kiseki SC- a crucial piece of the original trilogy and seen by fans as the very best the Kiseki series has to offer. Unfortunately, as it was a two UMD game, there were problems with making it digital. Thankfully, with the help from Sony, however, they were able to complete this task.
The Playstation Portable also saw three Ys titles. Ys Seven’s exclusive release on the PSP caused a massive uproar with the fan community. It caused quite a number of ‘hate’ threads on 2ch, and even a LOT of traffic on the forums on Falcom’s site at the time. This forced Falcom to move their hand at one point and issue a press release of the “Ys Seven Multiplatform” project- that has yet to really have seen any announcement since.
Regardless, Ys Seven’s new party system would bring about something else: for the first time in an Ys title developed by Falcom, Dogi, one of the series’ regulars, has become playable. Whereas many people were upset with the decision to go to PSP, there were many more who were surprised and excited for the party system. Even during one of his interviews, Kondo mentioned that there were plans to integrate a multiplayer system where people could play cooperatively through the PSP’s ad-hoc networking.
Of course, when they were unable to implement it, Falcom gave out quite an apology: a quirky multiplayer versus crossover game that came to the PSP- Ys vs Sora no Kiseki. Built on Ys Seven’s graphical system, many of the Ys characters, as well as a number of the Kiseki characters, were brought into a four player adventure-type brawler. This wasn’t the only ‘oddball’ title on the PSP, though. Falcom had run a survey at one point to ask what IP’s people would like to see resurrected. With Brandish, Vantage Master, and Zwe!! all making the top three, these games also saw releases on the PSP. Zwei!! had a re-release to lead into the new Zwei II on PC, Brandish had the wonderful Dark Revenant remake, and Vantage Master Portable- a graphically enhanced version of the original title.
What began a new legacy for Falcom, however, was not meant to last: Sony had a new handheld on the horizon. On 7/26/2012, Falcom released Nayuta no Kiseki. This would be their last title on the Playstation Portable. This title practically took everything Falcom had learned on the system and utilized it in a whole new concept- a story action RPG. While unrelated to the mainline Kiseki series, this game featured the kind of action you’d expect from one of Falcom’s action RPGs, but with the depth of story to fit in under the Kiseki name.
With the news of this week, this Throwback Thursday was an easy choice. While it wasn’t as ‘throwback’ worthy as the past articles have been or would be expected of such a header! …but it serves as a great opportunity to give a farewell salute to the handheld system that changed Falcom as we know it.
I can’t say that I’d be able to guess where Falcom would be if they hadn’t jumped from PC to the PSP back in 2009. I’m confident in saying that I believe that the decision they made was a good one. Falcom would only be a shell of what we know today if they hadn’t taken the risk that they did. For that, I think that those of us, as fans of Falcom and their games, should give our thanks and gratitude to such a wonderful handheld system.
I’m sure that, regardless of the system being discontinued, I’ll continue to dig my own out and play some of the great games that I have on it.
Which Falcom games on the PSP left the biggest impression on you, if any of them did?