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Flying Solo

I've written many thousands of words about my most beloved gadget, the GameBoy. And, of course, the GameBoy Advance. Tiny machines that let me play video games on the go. I could play golf while standing in line at the supermarket, play Tetris at the bank, and Zelda on the plane.

But what really hooked me in about this tiny machine has to do with timing. Like all things in life, I suppose.

My mother purchased me my first GameBoy.

Right after she was diagnosed with terminal cancer.

To this day, I've kept that original machine, and just holding it reminds me of her.

See, she got it for me for those long hospital visits. The ones where I'd just sit there along with my stepfather, Nick, and listen to all those machines make beeping noises, while the sound of fluids ran in and out of my mother's body. Needless to say, the GameBoy helped me escape into another world.

Sure, she was lying there dying in front of my eyes, but also, I was racing cars with nitro packs, getting huge from mushrooms, and fighting evil with a whip. And it helped.

A lot.

Now, it's many years later, and I just received the Sony PSP (PlayStation Portable) in the mail with five games that will be available at launch. I have very mixed feelings about the little beast -- because it brings up some heavy memories -- but overall, I think I'm falling in love. Again.

First off, the PSP looks cool. Really fucking cool. My better half, MBH, says it looks like a Mercedes. And she's right. It's smooth, black, and sleek, and the viewing screen is out of this world. The picture is so sharp you'd almost swear it was 3-D. It uses 16.8 million colors, and the screen is 4.3 inches, compared to the GameBoy's 2.9.

The machine also uses a new media format called UMDs (Universal Media Discs), which are sorta like mini CDs or DVDs encased in these white plastic cases. And how does this new medium look?

The PSP shipped with Spider-Man 2. The movie. And hot damn if Doc Ock doesn't jump out of the screen at you, and Kirsten Dunst looks more kissable than ever.

The machine also shipped with a demo disc, which, besides showing off some games, has previews for movies. One of them is the new version of The Longest Yard. The first shot after the "Rated R" screen is a tight shot of a woman's ass in a bikini. And after seeing that, I realized just why Sony is going to make a mint from this thing. It's not just a game machine, it's a PPP. Portable Porno Player. I'm betting that very soon, film companies like Vivid are cranking out UMD porn by the wheelbarrow full.

And why is that so great? Just think about it. You can watch some fucking and sucking at work, but not on your computer. So your boss can't track you and what you've been looking at. The PSP itself, or the PPP if you prefer, is small enough to fit in your pocket, and you can totally sneak it into a bathroom stall and, just by pushing a few buttons, have an instant peep show. Anywhere.

It's the answer to every man's prayer. Whether they'll admit it or not.

But I'm getting way ahead here. The machine comes with a remote control thing that plugs in, and some really decent headphones. It also has a 32 MB memory stick that's so fucking tiny it's amazing. You can play games against others because it uses Wi-Fi, but most important, it FEELS like a PlayStation.

That's right, the triangle button, the x button, the square button and the circle button are all in the right place. As are the start and select buttons. And now there's even a home button that comes in very handy. And the shoulder buttons on the left and right? Perfect.

I'm sure I'll be talking a lot more about this machine in the weeks to come, but now let's move on to some of the launch titles.

First off, there is NBA. It's made by 989 Studio, which, of course, is Sony. The game looks fuckin' great, and ALMOST plays great as well. Almost. There is a bit of a problem with the players getting stuck outside the lines, and the opposing team AI (Artificial Intelligence) is sometimes a bit wacky. But overall, it's lots of fun, and pulling off moves feels great. Especially the new feature of "clutch shooting."

Next I got Gretzky NHL, from Page 44 Studios. It's video game hockey at its bloody best, and I love it. Body slams, nasty checks, and lots of whacking your puck. The quick start mode rules, and this game just feels fast. Which is nice, especially when you are cranky and just wanna kick some ass. Also, playing against others with this baby feels almost orgasmic.

World Tour Soccer from 989 is another title I received. I don't know why they call his sport "football" over in the land of the toothless. Also, I don't know why the graphics here look so cartoony. I suppose if you like soccer, you'll dig this. Me? The game's for moms and their little kids.

A surprisingly good title at launch is Wipeout Pure. Developed by Sony itself, this is a racing game from the future, and it looks and plays beautifully. There's at least 16 tracks that zoom by, and soon you'll be able to download more, along with new skins, ships and music. This is where the future of gaming is going. And it's right on track.

Lastly, I got Twisted Metal Head On. If you've ever played this car combat game, you know it's all about machine guns firing from your headlights, and missiles blowing the shit out of other players as well as the environment. This game feels EXACTLY like Twisted Metal 2. Which is a very good thing. Since it was the best game in the PlayStation series. Even better than Twisted Metal Black, for the PlayStation 2.

Anyway, you drive around in all sorts of bitchin' vehicles, like old Caddies, bulldozers, or even ice cream trucks, and blow the shit out of everything. Ever want to see the Eiffel Tower fall? Or pyramids blow their bricks? You've come to the right game.

Of course, there are plenty of games that are now available since the thing launched late last week. Next week, I hope to cover Metal Gear Acid from Konami, and perhaps Tiger Woods PGA Tour. Like I said, I love the video game golf.

But as far as getting on a real course?

I prefer to play with my putter in private.


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