PixelJunk Eden Encore Launching on PSN this Thursday

PixelJunk Eden Encore Launching on PSN this Thursday– I’m thinking I need to get this.  Been playing a lot of Eden lately, but need to complete more of the original game before splurging out on Encore.  See also- Joystiq coverage, official site.

Trophies: The Hunt Is On

(Note: I was originally going to call this post “Gentleman, start your engines” but due to equality issues and the phrase having nothing to do with trophies, it was scrapped.  That’s your dose of trivia for the day!)

Well, enough games are now out there that have trophy support.  First I had a ‘blast’ on Super Stardust HD, which was the first PS3 game to have trohpy functionality, and now I’m engrossed with PixelJunk Eden (need to complete those gardens!).  My next target will be another play-through of Uncharted: Drake’s Fortune, which I am really going to relish.

I suppose my future targets will be Warhawk and LittleBigPlanet, which I both like, really need to buy!  This is especially true for Warhawk, seen as it has had several free updates.  I’m one of these people who try to hold out on buying certain games till they come down in price!  Several games I want though are stubbornly remaining at quite a high price.

That’s besides the point though.  What I really want to say is good luck to all trophy hunters!  I’ll be collecting trophies myself, though not at the frentic pace of some of you.  I’ll probably mention something more about trophies a few months down the line.  Till then!

Burnout Bikes Gameplay Unveiled

Burnout Bikes Gameplay Unveiled– On PlayStation.Blog.  Choice quote: “We want you to know that if you buy Burnout Paradise, you buy much more than the disk we shipped back in January.”  I hear ya’ loud and clear!  I’m seriously considering investing in Burnout Paradise now that I know there is so much cool content constantly being added.  Free!

Hands-on with the new PLAYSTATION Store

This is just going to be a quick and short ‘hands-on’ with the Store; much more succinct than my ‘in-depth’ articles on City In The Clouds (I hope). I’ve been waiting for the opportunity to get to grips with the new Store for quite some time now. Now that I’m back home for a couple of days I can test the Store for myself and ask: was the update worth it? Well, yea; it looks visually impressive, it’s lightning fast and it just works, really. Just the way you’d expect.

The new style of the Store is visually gorgeous; great colour scheme, clear and simplified layout and new artwork for all of the content. Due to the Store now being an application built into the PS3‘s operating system, rather than being a website, the speed improvement is phenomenal.  Also the whole structure looks a lot cleaner; everything is laid out exactly where you’d expect it, making what you want easy to find.  There’s also a red PLAYSTATION Store bag showing you any purchases you’ve already made.

New-look PLAYSTATION Store

The big question though- any faults or failings with the new Store? Not really, jut minor niggles you could say. The first thing I noticed (after being impressed by the new visual design) was that the Store was a bit small on the screen. I have a 32 inch HD widescreen TV and the Store only used about two thirds of it, and so the Store felt a bit squashed and could do with taking up a bit more screen real estate in my opinion. As I say- minor niggle.

Onto a couple of other things; some of the text is a bit small, like the instructions on the PSP downloads page of how to transfer games to your PSP, however the text size problem is an issue on the PS3 in general. Lastly, each game/video/piece of content has a little square icon, but whilst navigating about for what I wanted and then waiting for quite some time, most would not load. Now I don’t know if this is a problem on the Store’s part, or whether it is my internet connection (though at 8Mbps I’d be surprised).

Overall conclusions? The new-look PLAYSTATION Store is a fantastic update over the original Store, but possibly there’s a few minor niggles that need ironing out. Does this detract from the user experience? Possibly, but if everything works as intended it’ll make getting games, updates and videos etc a lightning fast, seamless, and painless experience.

NB: The PLAYSTATION Store (PC) for PSP also got a similar visual refresh, and of course, remains in website form.

Original PSP doesn’t have enough RAM for Skype

Original PSP doesn’t have enough RAM for Skype– At least Sony have done the right thing by letting original owners know. However, I do feel that we should have been told this from Sony right from the start so that no ill feeling would have arisen in the first place.

PSP Internet Radio in-depth

This post was originally written on the City In The Clouds blog.

You might remember my previous look at a rather substantive PSP firmware update. So, what is new in the ever-evolving world of the PSP?

The firmware update lists the following changes

[Internet Radio] has been added as a feature under [Network].
The importing of channels in OPML format is now supported under [RSS Channel].
Photos can now be displayed under [RSS Channel].
New effects have been added to the visual player under [Music].

I was going to call this post “PSP Firmware 3.80 in-depth” and go through all the features in turn.  However in my opinion, Internet Radio is the only substantive feature that has been added- the rest are superficial yet still welcome nonetheless.

Internet Radio
This is probably THE killer feature of this particular firmware update; increasing the PSP’s ever-expanding features and value proposition. On reboot, the first thing you’ll notice is [Internet Radio] under [Network]. When you click on [Internet Radio] you’ll see [About Internet Radio] which you can click on. You are then sent to the PSP Internet Radio site, shown below:

PSP Internet Radio Webpage
You can access the page directly here.

You then click on “adding an internet radio player”, shown below:

PSP Internet Radio Webpage
You can access the page directly here.

Here you can download either player 1 or player 2.  The only difference I’ve noticed is that player 1 gets its radio list from SHOUTCAST and player 2 gets its list from ICECAST.

How it works
Depending on which one you download (or even both), the relevant icon will display within [Internet Radio].  You just click on this option, which takes you to a webpage.  But before you do so, you have to accept the message: “do you want to run the plugin embedded in this page?”

At first, the internet radio was quite slow to load up, however in successive tests (even after having the PSP turned off) performance has increased greatly (due to the player being cached in the browser’s memory.)  Internet radio works by ‘tuning’ into a broadcast streaming off the internet.  A definition/overview of internet radio is available here from Wikipedia.

Not an exact science
To select the radio station you want, you just choose your genre and then click elsewhere on the radio ‘frequency’ gaug, just like you would on a real radio.  Yet you can’t find exactly what you want.  How do I mean?  I found a helpful comment from Gaffman on PSP Fanboy:

The radio is fairly well implemented but hard to find anything specific. You have to pick a genre, then manually skip through stations without really knowing what’s coming up. Its a bummer because I was hoping to be able to search for specific stations, say if a friend had a shoutcast station setup you could tune in on PSP wherever you were. The current setup seems to be based on popularity with no regard for language or anything else.

If there ever was a criticism about the implementation of Internet- then that just about sums it up.  However Sony were probably trying to come up with a fairly simple implementation for the average consumer.  It is also interesting to note, that in theory, internet radio is not too dissimilar from streaming audio podcasts off the internet on a PSP, yet its actual implementation is quite different.

Overall rating: 4 out of 5 STARS

PSP’s new killer feature.  Even if it’s not what you always desired; check it out, have a play with it.  Therefore PSP firmware 3.80 comes highly recommended.