PlayStation 3 and Vita Stores Not Closing, PSP Still Losing Out

Start up those emulators

Last month Sony announced that they were going to shut down the PlayStation Stores for purchasing games on the PlayStation 3, Vita, and PlayStation Portable. A statement from Sony Interactive Entertainment’s Jim Ryan has backtracked on this closure, but only for the PS3 and Vita:

Recently, we notified players that PlayStation Store for PS3 and PS Vita devices was planned to end this summer. 

Upon further reflection, however, it’s clear that we made the wrong decision here. So today I’m happy to say that we will be keeping the PlayStation Store operational for PS3 and PS Vita devices. PSP commerce functionality will retire on July 2, 2021 as planned.

There are about 80 million PSPs out there that will still be able to download games, but not purchase new games. It’s absolutely ridiculous to trust any of the companies who are selling games digitally to ensure they’ll be available to purchase or download in the future. Even Steam today had blips with Rockstar games going in and out of availability. Right now you can’t buy Midnight Club 2 on Steam, for example. On that same store, dozens of older games that get new re-releases have their original editions removed from purchase. Sometimes the publisher or developer is at least smart enough to leave the original store page up and have the original edition available for purchase in a bundle with the newer version, they get more money and you get at least one version of a game you’ll never play but you can’t make the mistake of buying the old version if you’d prefer the newer one. It isn’t always terrible, you probably don’t want to be able to buy the wrong version of a game, but if the newer releases are broken or missing features, soundtracks are the most likely to get trimmed due to music licensing, well then you’re just out of luck.

On the Xbox platform you can’t buy older versions of the Forza Horizon game digitally, presumably due to car and music licensing both expiring, and there are the same problems with newer editions forcing out older ones, but at least there’s backwards compatibility, right? All of the backwards compatibility and availability is up to the publishers of those games and Microsoft. The original Xbox and 360 emulation probably could work as a general purpose emulator, but Microsoft has left it up to publishers and developers who may not even exist anymore to decide if you can run those games on the Xbox One and Series S and X consoles. 

So, I don’t see this reprieve for the PlayStation 3 and Vita as meaningful. The axe will fall on their stores even if it isn’t this year, just as it will for the PlayStation Portable. Do what you will with that information.

PlayStation Store Shutting Down for Vita, PS3, PSP

Sony confirmed rumors today that they are shutting down the PlayStation Store for new purchases on three platforms this year. The PlayStation 3, PlayStation Vita, and PlayStation Portable will all lose the ability to purchase new games and DLC digitally, but can still redownload previously purchased items. This was confirmed via an e-mail to users and an “important notice” posted to Sony’s PlayStation support documentation website:

We are closing PlayStation™Store on PlayStation®3 consoles on July 2nd, 2021 and on PlayStation®Vita devices on August 27th 2021. Additionally, the remaining purchase functionality for PSP™ (PlayStation®Portable) will also retire on July 2nd, 2021. 

Many more questions were answered by that notice like what will happen to funds added to accounts of users who aren’t planning on migrating to the PlayStation 4 or 5 (they can be refunded) but it’s pretty clear now that the digital purchases made on stores like these are extremely ephemeral. Microsoft is hailed for their back-catalog support but they retire Forza Horizon games after a few years and make them unavailable for purchase. Nintendo’s e-shop for the Wii shut down in 2019 and they also shut off re-downloads of purchased games for that platform.

Making games available for digital purchase should mean that they are available in perpetuity, but it’s clear that the businesses selling games don’t expect to do so, leaving game preservation in the hands of people outside of those companies who are constantly threatened with legal action. Nintendo still doesn’t regard emulation as legal despite boasting about their in-house emulation capabilities and selling boxes that use emulation as does Sony with their PlayStation Classic, most likely Nintendo, Sony, and Microsoft are the primary reason that emulators aren’t allowed on most app stores.

Fortunately for today’s subjects, while PlayStation Vita emulation is still early, PlayStation 3 emulation has improved a great deal with RPCS3 and PPSSPP handles PSP games well. It’ll be up to people who pirate game software to continue to distribute games that weren’t available on discs and patches for game software will probably be hard to come by.

TurtleBeach EarForce PX21 Review

Console gaming headsets are in a weird place. On one hand, they’re relatively cheap and plentiful. On the other hand, that low price point means the drivers inside aren’t great. Hardware manufacturers like to cover this up with bass response, the PX21 set is no exception.

Though I don’t think you can even find a headset for consoles that doesn’t color the output, it isn’t any excuse for making cheap junk.

The big downsides are often similar across manufactures and models, comfort for extended sessions and quality.

TurtleBeach’s PX21 headset looks fine on paper, it has a great mic that is super-flexible, and is the first headset from TurtleBeach to support the PS3. It also supports the 360 and PC gaming.

The immediate downside is simple.

There is a terrible hissing noise.

You can minimize it by swapping out the included red/white RCA bypass jacks for going straight to your TV or hi-fi tuner setup’s headphone audio out jack, and then adjusting that system’s volume up. Then you turn the volume down on the PX 21’s built-in amp.

But that still doesn’t eliminate the hiss, and it is extremely annoying during any part of a game that has quiet spots.

Games with quiet spots are why I own a PS3, I don’t play just shooters; I play games like Heavy Rain and I don’t want the quiet points in games to be marred by the ear-piercing whine these produce. Even the recent Red Dead Redemption sounds like crap and gives me a headache due to this headset’s hissing noise.

Of course to hook them up they need to be plugged into the PS3 (or other device) via USB for power. On the 360 you’ve got a special bypass cable to chat through the controller. On the PS3 the connection is simpler since the chat audio goes straight through the USB cable.

This means the headset is really mixing two inputs, the game connection over the RCA (or headphone jack)  input and the chat audio over the USB wire or the supplied 360 bypass cable.

This design of two mixed inputs is either brilliant or stupid. Brilliant because it works around every situation you might want to use it in, stupid because the hardware TurtleBeach has chosen is so cheap it can’t really give you a clean sound.

The PX21 headset is otherwise extremely lightweight & comfortable. It also covers the technical bases of supporting the PS3, 360, and PC gaming. I hope TurtleBeach will go back to the drawing board to design a headset that doesn’t hiss, even if it means raising the price slightly. Maybe in some magical laboratory somewhere these things don’t hiss, but other reviews corroborate my testimony. As it is I cannot recommend this headset unless you only play loud games that have little-to-no quiet points, like Modern Warfare 2.

Even then you should keep your receipt, I returned the PX21 headset to Best Buy after just 24 hours.

Welcome to the Hall of Heroes

I recently obtained the magical and revolutionary video game, 3D Dot Game Heroes. In this RPG, you can build your own character model using the included editor. The game doesn’t really tell you where you can go to find character models created by other users, and most of the search results will get you gamefaqs or other fan operated sites that aren’t optimized for the distribution of these character models..

Atlus has us covered with their official Hall of Heroes along with instructions for importing them to your Playstation 3.


MadCatz Super Street Fighter 4 Wireless PS3 FightPad Review

There are a lot of choices when it comes to playing fighting games at home. You could go with the full Arcade experience and buy your own Street Fighter cabinet, or maybe you just want the joystick portion.

Maybe though you’re more like me; too cheap even for the MadCatz fighting sticks. Though most of the Street Fighter community seems to consider sticks to be the only option, I only play for fun. So that’s why I went with the FightPad.

You might be surprised to find that the fightpad is wireless since MadCatz goes out of their way to hide the USB wireless dongle in the bottom of the packaging. It doesn’t even use bluetooth, opting instead for the el cheapo 2.4 Ghz RF technology. More importantly, it is still extremely responsive despite all that.

Playing with Marvel vs. Capcom 2, Super Street Fighter 2 Turbo HD Remix and Street Fighter 4; I didn’t notice any lag. So, maybe they are right to hide the dongle, I wouldn’t have bought it if I had known. The battery solution for the pad is a standard battery AA housing on the back like the MS 360 gamepads. However, this gamepad doesn’t include contacts for the 360’s rechargeable battery pack. So you are on your own for that.

The directional pad and saturn-esque button layout is a tremendous upgrade from the Dual Shock 3. Just like the original fightpads you can still swap the dpad’s toggle to control either the left or right analog sticks if you’re trying to work with a game that doesn’t support one or the other. The turbo functionality works just like it should, tap the turbo button once and then the button you want to repeat; then tap that button again and it’ll repeat.

It probably wouldn’t be too surprising if I told you that the build quality isn’t great. I’m not even sure it suits the $40 price tag at most retailers. The buttons feel loose, and the noise they make while the pad is in motion isn’t  reassuring. Though that probably doesn’t impact their accuracy,  the quality is going to impact the controller’s lifespan. Moreover it makes it me wish for a “tournament edition” of the fightpad with higher-quality parts. I don’t like wasting space in landfills. You can tell already that this pad is going to end up broken and sent to one within a few months of dedicated playing.

This FightPad isn’t limited to fighting either, it also works really well with emulated games. Though the dpad shows up as a joystick hat, which is kind of strange. I tried out Sunset Riders with it, and can say that this is perhaps the ultimate way to play Sunset Riders.

Overall it is easy to recommend the pad to folks like me, casual players who are too cheap or don’t have the room for the larger arcade-style fighting sticks. Dedicated players will wear it out in time, but even they should enjoy it while it lasts. My understanding is that the 360 version is similar, but wired.