Sunday, September 13, 2015

I Want My PSTV... But Does Anyone Else?

The Playstation TV seems like it was made just for me! Which is kind of a problem, because I can't imagine why anyone else would want one.

Frankly, there's a lot this tiny system can't do. It's not compatible with leading video services like Netflix, making it a lousy digital media player. It's not a replacement for the Playstation Vita, since it's missing a lot of that system's unique features and can't run all its games. It's not on par with the current generation of consoles, or even the last generation of consoles, in overall performance. With all this in mind, why the hell would anyone want this?

A great system... but only if you
know what to do with it.
(image from
Two reasons. The first is that the Playstation TV can stream Playstation 4 games, so you can play them just about anywhere without having to lug a six pound system to every corner of the house. However, I don't have a Playstation 4 yet, which brings us to the second way the Playstation TV justifies its existence. It plays the vast majority of games for both the PSOne and the underrated PSP, and it does all this on a television set, with a real controller. If you've still got an interest in these two systems (and I do!), and you've bought a lot of games on the PSN digital store (and I have!), this thing is ambrosia.

Let me give you some examples of how the Playstation TV has earned its keep. I spent one hundred hours playing Disgaea last month. Although the Vita has a pretty large screen for a handheld, I was eager to graduate to my much larger television set. Sure, I could have switched to the Playstation 2 version of Disgaea, but that would have meant starting from the beginning, and nobody wants that! Luckily, the Playstation TV offered a simple solution to my dilemma. I just had to take the memory card out of my Vita, pop it into the PS TV, and blammo, I'm resuming my game from the last save point, without losing a moment of progress.

The original arcade game had dials you had
to twist to aim, and push down to fire.
Needless to say, using two joysticks is a
huge, HUGE improvement.
(image from Monotunes-N)
Wait, it gets better! The Playstation TV lets you customize the control of PSP and PSOne games. This option isn't as full-featured as it is on the Vita, but being able to assign the second analog stick to other buttons is usually good enough. If you bought Monster Hunter Freedom Unite from one of the recent PSN sales, you can assign the D-pad to the second stick, letting you adjust the camera like you would in the console versions. This works even better with Forgotten Worlds, one of the many games on Capcom Classics Collection Remixed. Just turn on 4-Way Firing in the game, then set the second analog stick to the face buttons in the options screen. It's now a twin stick shooter, and it's never been more comfortable or fun to play.

What else? PSP and PSOne games have never looked this good on a Sony system. While the PSP Go could display games on a television set with an optional cable, they'd be squeezed into a window surrounded by black borders. However, the Playstation TV gives both Vita and PSP games the full screen treatment, with only PSOne games getting borders. Vita games look lovely, just a notch below equivalent PS3 titles. PSP games look great too... a bit jaggy, but you'd have to expect a few rough edges from the dated technology. PSOne games... look about as good as they're ever going to get, but at least you get the fast disc loading that was frustratingly absent on the Playstation 3, along with the vibration that simply wasn't possible on the Vita or PSP.

There's a lot the Playstation TV doesn't do well, or at all, but for the very specific purpose of playing Sony's classic library of games on a television set, it's cheaper, more convenient, and just plain better than competing systems. There's no hacking necessary, and the game selection is far superior to anything you'll find on the Ouya or similar Android devices. At forty dollars, it's the sale of the century... but only if you know exactly what it offers and that's exactly what you want from it.

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