The Real Love Story Was the PSP Game I Found Before It Began

Superfan-turned-contributor Patrick J. Humphrey begins his GameCola career with a love letter to Sony's handheld consoles.

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In a novel I have been writing for the last year and a half that I might never let anyone read, a young character in turmoil muses, “From what I have gathered of adults’ views on love in media and children’s in conversations with my friends, falling in it (love) is an act, though perhaps unwilled of definition. It might make clear what one wants to do with the rest of one’s life. That might be as simple as, ‘spend it with this person.’ It might also define what one wants to improve about oneself to be worthy of the resplendent likeness of the person one loves in the statuary of one’s mind. Furthermore, love can make clear, even if one had no doubts, why one was born the way one was. For instance, a boy might not understand why he had to be one until taking the hand of a special girl or some such. It can be this sort of definition or the opposite; extreme confusion can be its own sort of resolution.” This could be interpreted as an attempt to exorcise gender dysphoria through the framework of a heteronormative love story. In context, it isn’t referring to a heterosexual pairing at all, though those involved also don’t share any significantly romantic moments or end up together. It’s one of those stories of ideas that occur mostly within the characters’ emotions. The so-called instance briefly modeled is drawn from my own experience. It was the first decisive interpersonal choice I had ever made. Legally, I had not yet given up being 17. Intentionality in building relationships with people would go on to become a major theme of my life in general. All the while, something else was on my mind—something about my future I wanted to define.

The month was March. It was 2021. It was the 29th. A revelatory email met my stare into the void. It was revelatory as in the Book of Revelation, as in the end of the gosh darn world. PlayStation announced, and I quote: “We are closing PlayStation™Store on PlayStation®3 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. After thoughtful consideration, we decided to make these changes in an effort to focus our resources for PlayStation™Store on PlayStation®4 and PlayStation®5, which will enable us to enhance the customer experience even further. We thank you for your support on these platforms throughout the years.” I was agog; I was aghast. It hadn’t occurred to me that the upkeep of these ethereal stores would cause any sort of strain on the good folks at PlayStation. I suppose I liked the idea of hypothetically playing more games on my Vita in an unspecified period in which I might have more time. I suppose I just didn’t want anything to change. Nonetheless, change was barreling towards me, and I wanted nothing more than to write a piece on the development for GameCola.net.

I didn’t go through with it in time. July and August came and went. Luckily, PlayStation didn’t go through with it either. October brought word that they were merely disabling some means of payment. It is important to note that I made very little use of the PlayStation™Store on my on PlayStation®Vita device. I did frequently play an excellent endless runner (you play as a plane, but “endless flier” sounds disgusting) called Race the Sun that I had long ago purchased from said store. My copies of Final Fantasy IV and Symphony of the Night were also digital. I didn’t not use it. But I hadn’t used it in years by the time I received the first email. The game (on a physical cartridge straight from Vintage Stock) in which I sunk the most hours meanwhile was Persona 4 Golden, which I almost immediately began calling my favorite game of all time. I won’t stop calling it that until I make the decisive choice to actually buy something that can run a version of Persona 5 and then buy a version of Persona 5. Then again, the experience of its predecessor was enhanced by the fact that I was going in partially blind. I shudder to think that I have watched internet strangers play Persona 5 for approximately the same percentage of my life as I have played Persona 4 myself, but it’s true. Anyhow, the existence of the PlayStation™Store, even conceptually separated from my real, though increasingly disused PlayStation®Vita device made me feel tethered to something beyond myself in a way I can’t explain. It’s not as simple as “I wanted it to be there should I ever choose to make use of it.” I didn’t just want the option. It wasn’t just about not wanting to feel old. It wasn’t just about not wanting to feel young.

The Venn diagram of my earliest memories of videogames and my Platonic ideal of the PSP is a circle. It was everything to me for a decent while. Some stand-out games I played the absolute heck out and off of include X-Men Legends 2, Sonic Rivals, LEGO Pirates of the Caribbean, a far-better-than-it-needed-to-be Blokus game, the PSP’s remake of Final Fantasy, my first RPG, which I played and fell in love with exclusively because of GameCola’s RPGcast, and, most of all, Mega Man Powered Up. There are no words in the English language to describe the enormity, intensity, and profundity of my love for Mega Man Powered Up. This is a game I no longer have any way to play. I only figuratively broke down and modernized to the Vita because the PSP literally broke down. It is a comfort, then, that I leave it with neither regrets nor unfinished business. I played the dang challenge stages. I unlocked Proto Man. I played the dang challenge stages to unlock Proto Man over the course of about a month of nonconsecutive hours. During at least a third of these, I was listening to nothing but Smash Mouth’s “All Star”. I wish that was a joke. That’s a lie. It’s funnier that it isn’t a joke. Post-Persona 4, I appointed Mega Man Powered Up to the respected status of my favorite game emeritus. The real love story was the PSP game I found before it began. Loving it defined many things, such as the fact that I was invested in videogames as an idea and the quest to play videogames that I could love as much as it. The Mega Man franchise made me want to improve to love it better. Zero 3 still cackles villain-esque down at me from atop its mountain of difficulty. Without looking it up, I’d say there are as many quotable pieces that declare love is about changing yourself as there are declaring the opposite. That is neither here nor there. Technically, it is there, but we are still here.

This wasn’t the piece I expected to write for GameCola.net about the closure of PlayStation’s virtual store for devices including my Vita, yet I know there could never have been another. The point wasn’t to weigh in on a topical if also personally resonant issue. That wouldn’t have been a good article. I never want to write any “that”. I do want to write every “this”. Now I have. Better still, now you’ve read it. Can’t we find a point together just this once?

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About the Contributor


Since 2022

Patrick J. Humphrey often loves GameCola.net more than life itself. He can even be convinced to talk about videogames for its sake, and, in the words of one of his favorite authors, "that says things!"

1 Comments

  1. Thank you for this article! You’ve inspired in me a hope that someday I’ll be writing a lot more of “this” and a lot less of “that” (despite what my next article may end up implying). I’m glad to see we’re adding such an articulate tour de force to the GameCola library, and here’s to more in the future.

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