Handheld Gaming Part 2 – The Present (Riddles)

Welcome to another uneventful Friday night. True to form, I’m here in my cold apartment all by myself on my single day off for the week.

Wow, that sounded awfully fucking depressing. Let’s try it again, eh?

Welcome to another Friday night, Riddlethosians! I finally have a day off from work, and true to form, I’ve spent it in utter, blissful relaxtion. Lots of Dead Space 2, and lots of just plain nothing. Just the way I like it. And now? It’s time for a little Riddlethosing.

It’s part 2 of my three-part handheld-history-feature-thingy. If you haven’t read part 1, then just scroll down a little. Or don’t, it’s not like you need it to comprehend the following text wall.

To summarize, in part 1, both Ethan and myself talked about the past generations of handhelds, up to and including Nintendo’s original beast of a Game Boy. At the outset, our stories are similar – as young children, handhelds system were our initial window into the wonderful, beautiful world of interactive entertainment. From there, though, the similarities are practically non-existent. I’ll explain.

Straight fugly, dood.

I vaguely remember when the original DS was released. At the time, I don’t believe I was playing many handheld games. During those particular years of my life, I was in Vegetative RPG Mode. What that means is I spent hours a day, every day, playing console RPGs and nothing but. Suffice to say I wasn’t too interested in a dual-screened handheld. Also, I thought it looked ugly as shit. Also, it irked me how many games tried to engineer their titles so they, too, had a “DS” acronym. (If I see a similar trend begin with 3DS, I will turn into a serial killer. Dream Drop Distance had better be the first and last. Like I didn’t already have enough reasons not to buy another Kingdom Hearts spinoff.)

But, while I was fairly “meh” on the concept of the DS, it also came out around a time in my life when I had a lot of a very special, certain thing: money. I was making money for the first time, and I was still living at my parents’ house. (I was only maybe 16, y’see.) So, when the DS Lite came out, looking all sexy with its sleeker design and lower price tag, I figured: why the hell not?

Unlike Ethan, though, I didn’t exactly fall in love with the system. I played it – don’t get me wrong. For the first year or so, I actually played on it quite often. But if I’m to be truthful, most of what I played on it were GBA games. And most of those were Final Fantasy games. (This was around the time when Squeenix was re-releasing all of their 2D Final Fantasys for the handheld.) I played Final Fantasys I-V on the DS, as well as The Minish Cap. I think I had Mario 64 and Mario Kart, but I didn’t care much for either of those. I got Final Fantasy III DS for Christmas, and played quite a bit of that.

The first game I actually beat for the system was The Legend of Zelda: Phantom Hourglass. And I loved that game. Far and away the best time I ever had with the DS. I bought Chrono Trigger, and played some of that. Didn’t beat it. I bought Dragon Quest IV DS, played 15 minutes of it, then proceeded to quite literally forget that I owned the game. I think I also bought Final Fantasy IV DS and never played it once.

*goes to check shelf*

I really did love this game.Yep, Final Fantasy IV DS is definitely on that shelf. And I definitely never played it. Also, my copies of Phantom Hourglass and Spirit Tracks are both missing. Oh yeah, I never beat Spirit Tracks. Dunno why. Beat the first dungeon and never played again.

But let’s veer off the subject of the DS for a moment. I also owned a PSP-2000 for a time. With similar results. I bought the system for Crisis Core: Final Fantasy VII. I played, finished, and loved Crisis Core. And then I never finished a game for the system again. Even after Shawn Cooper was nice enough to hack it for me, giving me access to countless classic ROMs.

So yeah. If you haven’t pieced it together by now, I’m not much for handheld games these days. I guess handheld gaming, for me, doesn’t quite define the “gaming experience.” I like relaxing on my couch in a properly-lit room, playing games on my 42″ HDTV. The truth is that I don’t have as much time to play games as I used to, and when I do get the opportunity, I’d much rather be playing, say, Dead Space 2 than Patapon or some grindy JRPG throwback.

And that’s another point I should make: handhelds are a place where more traditional genres and gameplay styles are preserved. And I appreciate this. However, I don’t actually care much for 2D platformers, old-school JRPGS, puzzle games, or the like. At least, not enough to where I’d choose to play them over something else. There’s always a console game I could be playing. I mean, hell, the Metal Gear games have been sitting in my collection unplayed for years. Shin Megami Tensei: Nocturne remains unfinished, as does Infamous, Folklore, Ninja Gaiden 1 and 2, Metroid Prime 3… you catch my drift.

“But what about your on-the-go gaming needs, Riddles?”

This one, too.Well, I don’t really have them. You see, Ethan lives in a real city with public transportation. He also has a life outside of his abode. I have neither of these things. I drive everywhere, and I spend the vast majority of my time either at work, or at home. When I’m driving, I can’t play handhelds. When I’m working, I can’t play handhelds. And when I’m home, well, I’ve got my PS3, 360 and Wii to fulfill my gaming desires.

So, I guess it’s fair enough to ask the question: what can Nintendo and Sony do to get people like me more interested in their handhelds? Or is that even something they should worry about? Hell, with games like Uncharted coming to NGP, maybe that’ll be the system that gets me back in the handheld scene. But that begs the question: if it’s essentially a handheld PS3 game then… why is it even on a handheld?

There shall be further discussion. For now, I’d like to note the fact that you (presumably)  just read 1000 words about how I don’t play games. Don’t you feel cheated? You should. Regardless, part three is coming up, and that’s where we get to the good stuff. Opinions and predictions about the upcoming 3DS and NGP will abound. Be there. In the meantime, if any of what I just said struck a chord with you, please: comment below!

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13 Responses to “Handheld Gaming Part 2 – The Present (Riddles)”

  1. Ethos says:

    Yeah, this struck a chord: You loved Phantom Hourglass and still haven’t beat Spirit Tracks? You bastard! It’s the way better game. My favourite Zelda game since Majora’s Mask and the most challenging in recent memory. At least by the end.

  2. Riddles says:

    Fail train is fail.

  3. SiliconNooB says:

    -Every 3DS title I have seen has had a 3D in the title, in fact I half suspect that Nintendo will not publish any game that does not.

    -I don’t really play on the go, I like portables for playing in bed, or around the house …

  4. Ethos says:

    @Riddles – *shrug* failboat is fail. It’s really the same except the train music is better.

    @SN – Then why is battery life a huge deal to you?

  5. Riddles says:

    The train music is absolutely NOT better. This, of course, is a matter of subjective opinion. And I liked the boat. (Another subjective opinion!)

  6. SiliconNooB says:

    Because I like to play my portables in bed and around the house.

  7. Ethos says:

    I still fail to see why that makes battery life a problem for you. Would you really feel that tethered if you have to plug it in after 3 hours of play when you’re largely stationary while playing it?

    @Riddles – I actually didn’t mind either. I just think they’re very, very similar in terms of purpose. Sure, the boat technically can go in any direction, but rarely do you ever have to make more turns than the train. Either way, finish Spirit Tracks! It is objectively the better of the two! (subjective opinion)

  8. SiliconNooB says:

    Yes I would. Why own a portable if I have to be tethered to a socket? I cannot use the 3DS the way that I’d wish to. I cannot use it in all the places that I’d wish to. And I take a very fucking dim view of having to halt play for three hours every three hours in order to charge the fucking thing.

  9. Ethos says:

    *shrug* If you’re sitting or laying down, if there’s a plug in the back, it hardly changes the experience. You don’t have to halt play to plug it in. I would usually play my DSLite with it plugged in if I was playing at home anyway because there’s no reason not to, and the battery is fine on that thing. I’m very annoyed with the battery life because I take it out and I think carting a charger out of your home is completely silly for a portable. Indoors I fail to see your issue. If you’re sitting around, there’s a little plug in the back, if you want to walk around, take a shit, or make spaghetti, the battery will do you fine.

  10. SiliconNooB says:

    I don’t have plugs in all the places where I usually use my handhelds.

  11. Ethos says:

    Oooh, well that I could see being an issue.

  12. SiliconNooB says:

    Especially in bed, I’d have to run an extension cord across my room to be able to play in bed.

    If I only wanted to play games while sitting on my couch, then I would play a console every single time. Instead I frequently opt for portables, because they allow me greater versatility as to where I am able to play.

  13. Ethos says:

    Yeah I love playing my DS/PSP in bed, but I’m always bombarded with outlets, so I never thought of that as a problem.

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