Posted on 18 January 2010.
[Editor's note: Yes, this isn't technigally a game, but we're betting you're as interested in this as we are. That's why we went with it. Hope you enjoy.]
Republished with permission from The Portable Gamer
It seems that everyone is now getting into the ereader boat. Computers have a plethora of ways to enjoy comics and books. We are seeing the explosion of the Amazon Kindle, Sony ereaders, and the new Barnes and Noble Nook devices. Hell, the iPhone even has ereaders now. The PSP might be playing catch-up with all these shenanigans with its comic reader, but Sony has done a fine job with this brand new feature.
This new feature has gotten very little news coverage. Sure, we saw a spike of coverage when Marvel announced they would put some comics to it, but after that it all but dried up. This feature is one of the best things to hit the PSP for graphic novel fans. Let’s take a look at why this is.
First up is the screen. It is a nice big beautiful screen. I have tried reading comics on the iPhone and the screen just does not compare. Seeing how we are looking at some fantastic artwork, the screen is a big deal in this feature.
The comic reader allows multiple ways to enjoy your comic. The most notable feature is a navigational feature called comic flow. This allows you to press left or right and the reader will travel through each panel and direct you to where the reading, or action, is. While this might sound odd, I found that it pretty much flowed with how one’s own eye would read a comic. This one simple feature made the comic reader enjoyable, highly usable, and very addictive.
Sure, you can pan around each panel with the nub, as well as zoom in and out, or turn pages on your own as well. These functions are left there for you as well. You never have to use the flow. I would advise against it though. The flow, while something so simple, just adds to the reading experience. It will even shake the screen if the panel has some sort of explosion or ground shaking event taking place. It is something that really needs to be tried to see what I am talking about. It just took reading comics to a different level of enjoyment for me.
What would a comic reader be without some good comics to read? Outside of the Marvel comics, there are some great indie comics, as well as other bigger name publishers like Image. Most of the indie comics can also be found on the iPhone/iTouch, but they look and read a lot better on the PSP. For instance IDW Publishing has a Transformers comic on the PSP and iPhone. The comic was OK on the iPhone, but I found it a lot more enjoyable to read on the PSP. Comic flow, the crisper, more colorful screen of the PSP just made the reading experience that much more of a cut above reading the same comic on the iPhone. Bear in mind, no matter how many fun features or pretty colors there are, if the story sucks, the comic most likely is not going to be very interesting to get through.
One of the big issues will be the price of these digital comics. A normal comic can be had for approximately $2.50 – $5.00. Most of the comics on the PSN run $1.99. This can be debated back and forth on how good or bad this is. Those who like to have physical paper in their hands will see this as way too much for something that Sony can control. Those who see the benefits of a digital comic download might still think this is too much, but can swallow the cost easier.
The biggest downfall will be that a digital comic will not rack up the collector coinage that a physical comic will. You can’t get your digital copy signed by your favorite artist or author, either. For me, I have comics sitting in a box that I will never sell. Yet, I try to keep these comics in pristine condition. By just going digital, my closets will be used for better things, like computer parts and shot glasses. $1.99 is not that hefty for me to swallow as I can take my comics everywhere I go and enjoy them without the worry of oily hands damaging the goods!
I really hope this feature keeps getting more and more support. Though I don’t foresee this becoming any threat to the printed material any time soon, it is a nice way to take your comics with you. It would be nice to see a lot more comics, and novels, making their way to the PSN. Once ereaders finally get themselves some Technicolor, I hope someone looks at how this setup works on the PSP and incorporates that into their device. [Editor's note: The Marvel digital comics reader works exactly the same, but on a computer screen. Sweet!]
For PSP owners, this feature costs you nothing to check out. There are a lot of good free comics available to test out as well. I strongly urge you to just give this feature a shot. You could be pleasantly surprised. Who knows, this just might be the start of something amazing down the road. You can doubt me all you want, but one never knows what will happen tomorrow.