Tag Archives: Firmware

All consoles need suspend/resume

One of the announcements at the PS4 unveiling that I’ve seen get little media coverage is that it will follow in the footsteps of the DS, PSP, 3DS and Vita by supporting suspend/resume across all games. I suspect the reason for the muted response is simply that people don’t realise what a useful feature it is, and I think it’ll be hard to go back once we’ve got used to it.

PS4 suspend/resume

Strangely, this is a feature that became dear to me immediately before Sony’s announcement, when the reveal of Mario & Luigi: Dream Team led me to dig out the first game on my beloved Game Boy Micro. Years of snapping shut whatever iteration of the DS I’m currently playing has made partaking of an RPG on a handheld without it feel less practical, more difficult to fit into snatched moments of gameplay. As excellent as they are, the ports of the 16-bit Final Fantasy games with their requirement of seeking out save points in towns and dungeons just aren’t designed with modern gaming habits in mind.

Even with my increased willingness to play a long-form game when sat down in front of the TV, finding a suitable place to stop playing feels like it takes annoying liberties with my time, making it impossible to drop out at a moment’s notice without losing progress. Other media don’t do it. Most DVD players remember the position you left off if you switch off during the movie, and TV habits are now built around pausing live TV and resuming recordings where you last stopped them. And now games won’t either.

I’ve seen it written elsewhere that the PS4’s respect for its users’ limited gaming time is its best feature, and I’m inclined to agree. It’s an area where the PS3, with its 20-minute firmware updates, mandatory installations and 500MB patches that lock you out while they download, failed spectacularly, and it’s great to see Sony learning from its mistakes. It’s going one better, not even making downloading the whole game a requirement before you start playing. It never made sense to me that you couldn’t start playing the first level until you’d downloaded the final one, which you might not need for 20+ hours, and now a system’s been designed around fixing that oversight.

While the games were fairly uninspiring at this point – I can’t be the only one who laughed at how they followed Killzone 4, inFamous 3 and a racing game with a speech about “creative risks” – full credit to Sony for the design of the system. The PlayStation 4 looks friendly both to develop for and to play on, with genuinely innovative features that make me, not entirely liking the move away from dedicated gaming systems, want to jump in.

Your move, Microsoft. How many ads are you going to cram onto the dashboard this time?

New Xbox Experience


Along with wireless controllers, upgradeable firmware has to be one of the best things to come out of this generation. The 360 and particularly the PS3 have come on massively since their launches, far beyond the days when a CD player and memory card manager were the best you could hope for. The ‘New Xbox Experience’ is the biggest update yet, completely overhauling the old dash – a good interface stretched thin as more functionality has been crammed in – keeping the bits that worked well and stealing cherry-picking a few ideas from the Wii and Sony’s XMB.

First of all, Avatars. I don’t care for them, and I don’t like the visual friends list because it’s a lot more unwieldy than the text-based version. They don’t have the personality of Nintendo’s Miis, which would justify such a prominent implementation, and once the novelty wears off I just imagine that they’ll just become more screen furniture. But hey, they might not do it for me but they don’t hurt, so whatever.

What I’m really interested with are the two features that are most clearly aimed at gamers like me: installs and system-wide parties.

I hate the forced installs that that are so common on the PS3 – I had a bit of a rant about it here – but the handful of PS3 games that have an optional install that lets me shave off a few seconds of loading if I want to but can also be popped in and played immediately cut a happy medium, and that’s fine.

What the NXE has done is expand this feature to almost every single game on the 360, past and present. Every game can be played completely from the disc, but since I have that lovely 120GB drive and am not inclined to download movie rentals, I can now play with loading times ranging from a few seconds saved to dramatically improved, and, most importantly, without my 360 sounding like a jet engine. The NXE actually makes late-night 360 gaming when everyone else is in bed viable. Never thought I’d see the day. Continue reading New Xbox Experience

PSP Themes: My First Attempt

Having shared some of my favourite custom themes for the PSP in the previous post, I now bring you what I have to show for the last couple of days.

I don’t think it’s half bad for a first attempt, although perhaps I could have gone for a bit more consistency with the logos I used to mark options. And it is, of course, yet more proof that I need something more productive to do with my time.

Feedback is welcome.

PSP Theme Showcase

The recent 3.70 PSP firmware (also in the 3.71 M33 custom firmware) added support for custom themes to personalise the XMB. Using this utility it’s possible to make your own, and since the homebrew community has been customising the XMB for months through less legitimate means, it naturally hasn’t taken long for some good, highly professional ones to show up.

I downloaded a rather impressive theme pack and trawled some forums for the best, as well as a couple that are a bit rubbish really but I found funny. Here are some of my favourites, both official and fan-made:

Cookie (official)




Continue reading PSP Theme Showcase