On the surface, Sony's PSP Go doesn't really look like anything radically new for the PSP franchise. Yes, it's more compact than the three earlier generations of the portable gaming and multimedia handheld device. And yes, it features such additions as 16GB of internal storage, Bluetooth, slide-out controls, and a smaller, more pocketable overall design. But the real change here is the fact that the Go is the first dedicated handheld gaming system to go completely digital and move away from cartridges or optical discs.
So, now that the PSP Go is finally here, what's the grade? The answer, so far, is "I" for "incomplete." That's because Sony won't be unveiling the full range of the PSP's downloadable software offerings until October 1 (which is when the PSP Go officially hits store shelves). On that day, Sony is pledging to expand the PlayStation store to include more than 225 games, 2,300 movies, and 13,300 TV episodes for the PSP (they'll work on the Go and all older PSP models as well). The digital versions are critical to the Go, since it lacks a UMD drive. Additionally, the Store relaunch should be our first peek at PSP Minis, the "snackable" game downloads that are cheaper and aimed at more casual users (much like many of the games now available on the iPod Touch and iPhone).
Among the key games coming October 1 (according to Sony) are the new and highly anticipated PSP exclusives Gran Turismo and MotorStorm: Arctic Edge. Other notable PSP favorites include Monster Hunter: Freedom Unite, Tetris, Soulcaliber: Broken Destiny, PixelJunk Monsters Deluxe, Daxter, Tiger Woods PGA Tour 10, Madden NFL 10, Beaterator, God of War: Chains of Olympus, Star Wars: Battlefront II, Tom Clancy's Rainbow Six Vegas, and Fieldrunners.
In the meantime, though, we've spent about a week with the PSP Go hardware, so we can share our initial thoughts on how it compares to earlier PSPs--not to mention the DSi and the iPod Touch. Check out our initial impressions now, and then come back later this week for an update once we've gotten a chance to see the updated, PSP Go-friendly PlayStation Store.