Handheld Gaming Part 3 – The Future (Ethos)

So here we are. About 15 years of my handheld gaming life summed up in two articles, and now I must talk about the two fairly-recently announced new generation of portable handhelds.

Well, kinda portable. The 3DS is severely strapped down by its extremely short battery life, and the NGP is even bigger than the biggest model of the current PSP. As I briefly touched on in Part 2, one of the reasons I love the Go is that it’s actually portable to me. When I borrowed a regular PSP to play Birth By Sleep, it was far more noticeable in my pockets and just more of a pain to bring around with me.

It’s true that I haven’t been having extended play sessions on my current DS out of my home for a while, but that doesn’t mean that I want to feel like I have to conserve every time I open the lid on my 3DS.

It's probably not a good sign that I'm most excited for NGP's interface...

On the other hand, I like the idea of the NGP having 3G capabilities, and trophies on the go sound wonderful to me. Also, the trackpad on the back of the system might just be a great solution to a touch screen without having to cover up your vision of the action. I suppose I didn’t get excited from the press conference because of the size, design, and no software that entices me in the least.

I adore the Uncharted games, but that is a series that I boot up on a massive TV and play-through in as few sittings as possible. Even with NGP’s crazy horsepower, Uncharted on the system doesn’t sell me. Especially when the preview included gyro sensor movement as part of the gameplay…

But there’s lots to still see on that system, so I have no firm stance yet, but let’s move onto a release that looms much closer.

The 3DS impressed many when it was first shown off in grand style at E3 2010, and since then, there mostly has only been bad news for fans. The return of (barely improved) friend codes, a delayed release for the (potentially improved) eShop, region locking confirmed, and of course a really shitty battery.

The difference for me with the 3DS and the DSfat release is the software. There wasn’t a single thing about the DS that enticed me. With the 3DS, a new Paper Mario game alone is enough to get me excited. Kingdom Hearts has lost my love over the years, but I’m willing to pay attention if Dumber Name is as good as Birth By Sleep. I already explained my excitement for the new Pilot Wings game, and that’s not to mention the remakes of two of my favourite games I’ve ever played, Ocarina of Time and Star Fox 64.

The DS interface gets better, but it's relative.

Perhaps these titles don’t excite everybody, but those 4 (and a half) pieces of software are enough for me to know that I’ll buy this system before the inevitable redesign. But the 3DS is a nice looking piece of hardware, so I expect its new version will come closer to SP’s 2 years after the GBA launch as opposed to the DS Lite’s 18 months after the original monstrosity.

Add that to my need for a new DS anyway as now both my shoulder buttons are busted, the 3DS is a no-brainer.

That being said, I’m not hand-over-heels for the thing either. If Pilot Wings wasn’t a launch title, then I wouldn’t even consider buying it day one, and as it stands, I’m still on the fence. I’m particularly broke, and StarCraft II, Pokémon Black and White, and the Team Ico collection are all easily higher on my priority list.

The fact is that Nintendo has a great track record for software on their handhelds, and I’m very pleased with the DS brand overall. I have my PS3 for a great online experience, and I’ve never imported a game in my life, so the only hitch for me is the console’s battery life.

The fact is that Nintendo’s home console really isn’t much of a console at all. Excepting the phenomenal Super Mario Galaxy games, there isn’t too much going for that system and its unorthodox controller. Nintendo’s DS line has its share of gimmicks, but the truth is that it is the better place for a traditional gamer experience. The NGP, however, has the somewhat bizarre problem of having a completely wonderful counterpart system, and thus the portable feels a little redundant.

But who knows? Maybe this is the generation that will see Sony claim the section of my heart reserved for handheld gaming. But as it stands, the only software that has my attention is on the DS. Plus, it’ll be nice to finally be able to play the DS games I have that require the shoulder buttons.

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5 Responses to “Handheld Gaming Part 3 – The Future (Ethos)”

  1. SiliconNooB says:

    I think I’ll take a wait and see approach with both handhelds, I feel better about the PSP2 though.

  2. Ethos says:

    To be honest, I anticipate it to go very much like the current generation in which you can’t go wrong with either and there’s a great place for both after enough software rolls out. I’m excited to see what NGP brings to the table because we pretty much know nothing. And let’s see how much more than the PS3 it’ll cost…

  3. SiliconNooB says:

    Yeah, probably. 3DS will have lots of mass appeal games, and sell twice the amount of units as the PSP2. PSP2 won’t really look beyond hardcore gamers, maintaining the status quo.

    The only real darkhorse gambit in this scenario, is Sony’s emerging interconnectedness with smartphone development, and the way this could integrate to broaden the appeal of the PSP2.

  4. Ethos says:

    On that note: http://gear.ign.com/articles/114/1148123p1.html

    I’m glad the PSP2 and PSPhone are separate, but it might be confusing to some.

  5. SiliconNooB says:

    I think that’s why it’s being called the Xperia, instead of the PSP Phone. I think it’s a brilliant move of Sony to allow Android devices to download PS1 games and minis.

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