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Game stores to open at midnight as US gears up for PSP

Sony's PlayStation Portable is set to launch in North America tomorrow, with the long-awaited console going on sale at midnight at many stores - including official launch events at the Sony Style stores in New York and San Francisco.

Sony's PlayStation Portable is set to launch in North America tomorrow, with the long-awaited console going on sale at midnight at many stores - including official launch events at the Sony stores in New York and San Francisco.

Both the Sony Style store in Manhattan and the PlayStation Store in San Francisco's Metreon centre will open at midnight local time to sell the console, with a series of giveaways, celebrity appearances and sneak peeks at new software planned for the night.

The two official stores will be joined by a host of other retail locations across North America which plan to open at midnight to sell the PSP, which sold out solidly for weeks after its launch in Japan before Christmas.

Sony planned to ship a million units to retail for the launch, and so far the signs are that the company has managed to meet this target - with few of the normal rumblings of discontent from retailers that normally greet an understocked hardware launch.

Unlike the Japanese launch, where consumers could choose between a standard PSP or a "Value Pack" comprising a PSP and a number of accessories such as a cloth carry case, a 32Mb Memory Stick and a pair of headphones, US customers will only be able to buy the Value Pack, priced at $249.99.

Exactly which titles gamers will be able to pick up at launch is somewhat unclear, thanks to Sony's insistence on talking about titles in the "launch period" rather than actual launch day titles, but we expect around 17 games to be on shelves tonight - with the highlights being Konami's Metal Gear Acid, Namco's Ridge Racer, Koei's Dynasty Warriors, Activision's Spider-Man 2, Sony's own WipEout Pure, and Ubisoft's excellent puzzle title Lumines.

A number of UMD movies are also set to launch for the system in the near future, although again, we don't know which customers will actually be able to buy tonight - only that Sony's Spider-Man 2 is being bundled with each one of the PSPs sold from the launch allocation.

European gamers, meanwhile, will have to wait for several more months before the system arrives on these shores, as the planned March release was bumped backwards to ensure that enough units were available to satisfy demand in North America.

No new date has been given for the system in this territory, but many estimates suggest that it may be early June before the PSP - which was originally meant to launch worldwide before Christmas - finally rolls out over here.

In the meanwhile, those keen to get their hands on the hardware could do worse than looking to importers - some of whom, mindful of the impending US launch, have significantly dropped their prices for Japanese PSP units, with popular online store Lik-Sang now selling the standard pack for the console at £149, and the value pack at £174.

Author
Rob Fahey avatar

Rob Fahey

Contributing Editor

Rob Fahey is a former editor of GamesIndustry.biz who spent several years living in Japan and probably still has a mint condition Dreamcast Samba de Amigo set.