I just got five 3rd party 3DS games today. Far more interesting stuff than Steel Diver and Nintendogs + Cats. At the very least my next Scatter Storming will have impressions of them all.
Today I am quite tired and have a lot on my plate, so let’s go to.
Let’s Be Honest
As much as Riddles and I love this site and are committed to it, it’s obvious that content and enthusiasm has been down since the beginning.
The fact is that Riddlethos does not pay the bills and takes a tremendous amount to effort to keep afloat at the level that both Riddles and I aspire to.
This leaves feelings of frustration when we can’t produce content like we’d like and feelings of guilt when we take time to ourselves.
But the point is that we truly appreciate all our readers – the ones who comment and the ones who don’t – and while Riddlethos will have dips and dives in its content production, you guys are the reason we still even consider this little site as something worth working on.
Riddles and I plan to talk soon to rework a few things, and maybe it’ll mean officially diminished content, maybe it won’t, but all decisions will be made carefully and with the future success of the site in mind, even if that means darker days for a bit.
Sorry for the rant, but I wanted to touch base and let you all know that a lack of content does not equal a lack of love.
Pilot Wings Resort
Fuck the other games that came with my temporary 3DS unit, Pilot Wings is the shit. It has almost every good thing I remember about the 64 version while adding some good new things and removing most – but not all – of the annoying. You can blast through all the missions very quickly, but to master each one and get a perfect score in every level is a true challenge.
A challenge that’s actually not often seen in any game nowadays. It’s a clever move that Nintendo demonstrated with Mario Galaxy 2: the difficulty setting without a need for a difficulty setting.
It would be perfectly easy for a beginner player to toy around with the title and have some fun in the easier modes and the free flight and not get frustrated with the difficulty. An intermediate player would find challenge in unlocking all of the levels as a decent amount of skill is needed to do so.
A player of my experience with gaming and the series, however, can blast through and unlock all the levels, but will then have a very challenging and ultimately satisfying time with the game trying to get a perfect score on all the levels. It – very largely – takes skill and intimate knowledge of the intricacies of all the vehicles to do so. There will be no flukes to gain a perfect run.
However, all that praise being said, the game is actually a horrible showpiece for the new system. The graphics are bad. I saw what the launch software was capable of when I was in New York, and Pilot Wings Resort is ugly in comparison. There is no argument. It’s a stylistic choice I guess, but one in the same vein as Wii Sports, so I’m not going to defend it.
Also the 3D is bad. If I only had this game to go off of, I would say that the system’s 3D doesn’t really work that well. Now I’ve seen about a dozen other titles, so I know that Pilot Wings Resort is the exception, but it’s still a Nintendo first party launch title, so…
On the lowest level, it’s actually very pleasant. The effect is obvious, but not intense, and it can even be helpful for some of the jet pack missions. But crank the thing up and it all goes to shit. Unlike every other game that I’ve played for the system, when the slider is completely up – or even over the halfway point – there’s no way to properly focus. There is no sweet spot. The 3D just doesn’t work on max for Pilot Wings.
Anyhoo, there’s a solid preview for when I get the go ahead to write a review. (Psst, the go ahead will be once I see a review from IGN).
Other than that…
…I haven’t really been playing many games. I just haven’t been home. Dragon Age calls to me, but because it has turned out to be “just a fun game” and not really the sequel that Origins deserved, I haven’t been cutting into sleeping time to play it.
I have been playing Pokémon when I can, but I’m just on the grind now. I picked up a few Pokeymans that really suck now, but evolve late and will be worth the investment. I’m at the Elite Four, but haven’t properly challenged them yet. I’ll post my winning team when I finally do.
That’s all! I actually wrote more than I expected, so suck it.
Wow, alright. So. Apparently I had a lot to say about the NGP. I did kinda see that coming, but I was helpless to stop it. As you can see, I’ve opted to split my final article into two. I’ve yet to talk at length about Nintendo’s impending 3DS – and that’s about to change.
Without question, 3DS carrys on Nintendo’s trend of gimmick-based systems. Dual screens, motion controls, and now 3D graphics are the hot new tech this time around. But here’s the interesting thing about Nintendo and 3D: they’ve met before. Oh yes.
This was admittedly before my time, but I’ve done ample research on the subject: Nintendo’s Virtual Boy system, released in 1995, was, in fact, the first system to feature 3D graphics. Sure, it bombed, and was phased out within a year – but it broke the ice. It’s a funny thing to consider, but in a way, the 3DS is a sort of redemption for them and their failed 3D venture.
They’ve Wanted 3D for a Long Time
Since the failure of the Virtual Boy, though, Nintendo’s experiments with 3D didn’t cease, they merely became covert. Much of this was revealed some months ago in an edition of Iwata Asks. For example, The Game Boy Advance SP was capable of displaying 3D graphics. In an excerpt from the blog: “Making three-dimensional images that can be seen by the naked eye requires a special liquid crystal, so we tested it out by putting it in the Game Boy Advance SP. But the resolution of LCD was low then, so it didn’t look that great and it never made it to being a product.”
Perhaps even more bizarrely, it seems the GameCube was capable of displaying stereoscopic 3D. According to Iwata, “The liquid crystal for it was still expensive. Simply put, Nintendo GameCube could display 3D images if you attached a special LCD, but that special liquid crystal was really expensive back then.”
Luigi’s Mansion even ran in 3D. Crazy, right? So, I suppose the point I’m trying to make is that Nintendo has waited a long time for the opportunity to pull off this 3D nonsense. The technology is finally here. Let’s hope they’re chock-full of ideas to deliver on, eh?
What does Nintendo Plan to Do with the 3DS
Honestly? I think Nintendo is fine with merely maintaining the status quo. They have a huge install base with the current DS Lite and DSi, and many of those people will buy a 3DS – if not immediately, than in time. Unlike Sony and the NGP, Nintendo doesn’t have any need to alter its gameplan. It’s not a terribly dynamic prospect, truth be told.
One thing to keep in mind is that 3D gimmicks aside, it’s high time Nintendo released a new, more advanced handheld anyway. Typically, they don’t wait this long for an upgrade – there were only three-year gaps between the GameBoy Color, GameBoy Advance, and the DS. But since the release of the DS in 2004, it’s been seven years since we’ve seen a successor. And no, the DSi does not count.
So, what about it, then
Truthfully, I’d like to try out the 3DS, and see what it’s like. See if I enjoy the 3D, see if I enjoy the feel of the system. As of right now, it’s hard for me to be awfully excited for it, since I haven’t been particularly attached to Nintendo or its handheld devices or some years. It looks like more Nintendo, and that’s not a bad thing – it just doesn’t particularly excite me.
But, that being said, I haven’t written the thing off. Because there is one thing that does excite me: the prospect of an Ocarina of Time remake. Call me ridiculous, but it’s reason enough for me to consider a 3DS purchase. Oh, and Game Boy Color and Advance games available for download? That’s pretty awesome as well. What if they remade some of those in 3D? Ooohh…
How About that Battery Life?
Oh, yeah, the battery life sucks. I mean, come on. 3-5 hours? That doesn’t sound very portable, Nintendo.
And that’s that. We’re officially running over-schedule, but Portable Gaming Week has been officially concluded. We do hope you enjoyed it.
Alright, so we’re a day late, but a dollar short? I think not. Because if all indications are correct, I’m about to pound out a fairly monstrous article to close out this extended Handheld Gaming Week.
My first two articles, if you haven’t read them, were very casual in nature – rather than attempt in-depth dissections of the past and present states of the portable gaming industry, I decided to merely recall my personal experiences with each. Now, though, I plan to take the groundwork I’ve laid with those two blurbs and leverage into a fairly even look at the upcoming next-generation handhelds from the two big players, Nintendo and Sony.
So, in other words, today I’m here to talk about Sony’s Next-Generation Portable. Buckle in, gents and ladies.
So I gave Sony first in line today. FAVORITISM?! I don’t know. Not really, at least when it comes to handhelds. I owned a PSP-2000 for a time. I was rather fond of the device, but truth be told, I barely played the thing. We went over this in my previous article, but the only PSP game I ever finished was Crisis Core, which was the game I bought the system for. But my own experiences aside, the PSP may have occasionally struggled in the realm of software support, and it occasionally lost its way – as evidenced by ventures such as the PSPGo – but one thing must be said: it was the first handheld to edge out a share of a market long-dominated by Nintendo and its many GameBoys. And that, alone, is a great feat.
Six years later, its successor is revealed to the world in the form of “NGP,” which you all should know, acronyms Next-Generation Portable – Sony’s working name for the device. It’s big, it’s beautiful, and it looks like it could breathe new life into Sony’s handheld brand – if they do things right.
Uncharted, on the Tiny Screen?
Let’s start by discussing something we can all relate to: Uncharted. There’s an Uncharted game (now simply called “Uncharted” as a working title) oming to the NGP. You can watch a demo for it right here:
Looks beautiful, doesn’t it? Of course we can’t get the full effect by looking at a video of the screen, but even still, it’s easy to conclude that this thing can produce graphics nearly on-par with PS3 quality.
On first glance, the touch-screen controls don’t look terribly appealing. Sliding my grubby finger across the screen where all the action is taking place seems bothersome. It also seems messy; those screens had better be resilient. But, I suppose we’ve had to put up with the same shit on Nintendo DS for some time. And also, I’ll admit it looked less offensive in some areas than others – being able to tap the ledge you want Drake to grab while climbing actually seems fairly intuitive.
Oh yeah, and there’s gyroscope controls as well. Actually, it’s the same sixaxis technology that’s in every PS3 controller, but never utilized. If you recall, the original Uncharted – which was released fairly early in the PS3’s life – utilized sixaxis controls for mechanics like bomb-tossing and tightrope balancing. Both were pretty awful, and sixaxis support was promptly canned for Uncharted 2. But hey, as unappealing as I’m making it sound, remember: gyro controls just might work better on a portable system, where the screen is right in between your hands. The vine-swinging segment made it look super-clunky, but I have to admit, it looked pretty slick for the sniper sequence.
Rear trackpads? Well, if nothing else, they’re an interesting alternative to a second screen. I’m really not sure how I feel about rubbing my fingers back and forth just to shimmy up a vine, though. Of all the NGPs features, it’s actually what intrigues me the least – but, I’ve only seen them on display in the above demo, so perhaps my mind will be changed in time.
And it’s not – no, it’s not – 3D enabled. Can you believe it? Yeah, it seems a little fishy to me as well. Sony’s pushing 3D hard for both the PS3 and their line of Bravia TVs – I mean, shit, did you catch any of their presentation at CES this year? I’d applaud them for not pushing the gimmick for NGP just yet, but mark my words: there will be a 3D-enabled NGP within a year after its initial release.
Tangent aside, I think at this point we can agree: The NGP looks slick. It’s clearly an amazing piece of technology, packing a punch never seen before in a handheld device. It has a revamped menu system, forgoing the Xcross Media Bar for a new, touch-based layout. It has a screen that’s four times the resolution of the original PSP. It has front and back cameras, it has dual-analog sticks (AT LAST) it even has 3G connectivity. Yeah, that’s right. It’s an impressive device. But that’s not enough to tell the whole story.
So Yeah, What’s Sony’s Plan for This Thing?
Good question. Here’s a key difference between Nintendo and Sony when it comes to this next-gen handheld race: Nintendo has success they can sit upon, the PSP needs to change its game up if S to stay relevant. And, it seems like Sony is trying to do just that – a certain Eurogamer article reveals what Sony’s overarching strategy for NGP might be.
In the article, they quote an anonymous source who reportedly attended a presentation for the NGP that Sony hosted at their headquarters in London. According to their source, “NGP is a developer’s dream – Sony is finally doing the things developers have been crying out for for years.”
Generous words, to be sure. Reportedly, the NGPs dev kits are far easier to utilize than the PS3s. “A PS3 dev station can take three hours to set-up. This looks like it will take under 20 mins,” quoth the nameless Eurogamer source. ”It just makes everything easier – they’ve really thought about it this time.”
Interesting. Glad to see Sony got that monkey off of its back. But here’s the big one: according to the source, the kits are optimized to allow for cross-platform development between NGP and PS3.
“Any shaders for PS3 stuff will just work,” said Eurogamer’s source. “We won’t have to rewrite. What would have taken two-to-three months before looks like it could take just one-to-two weeks now. The architecture is obviously different, but it’s the same development environment.”
Hm. Doesn’t that sound familiar?
Well, it does to me. Do you remember the days of GBA-to-GameCube connectivity? You bought an overpriced cable from Nintendo, plugged your GBA into your ‘Cube, and either used it as a controller, unlocked goodies, or activated some type of meta-game feature. (Like the Tingle thing in Wind Waker! Where’d he’d like give hints and drop bombs and stuff.) If you remember, games like The Legend of Zelda: Four Swords Adventures required GBAs as controllers, and would utilize both screens during gameplay. Final Fantasy: Crystal Chronicles did the same thing. It was a neat concept, but it wasn’t right for its time – to properly play such games, you needed at least two players in the same room with GameBoys and cables. And to get the most out of them, you needed four. A steep price of admission.
But in this day-and-age of internet connectivity, that sort of console-to-handheld compatibility could potentially take off, and make a sound argument for the necessity of an NGP. Imagine playing Dead Space 3 with the NGP as your controller – Isaac’s menu screen, text logs, and video logs could all occupy the screen of the NGP, potentially making for an extremely refined and intuitive heads-up display. Imagine picking up an audio log in BioShock Infinite, then listening to it through headphones plugged into your NGP. Imagine selecting and assigning plasmids by simply tapping your NGPs screen. There’s a lot of possibilities there, and I hope Sony sees that.
But there’s so much more that could be done with PS3-to-NGP connectivity – imagine PSN games such as the recent HD Prince of Persia titles, playable either on your NGP or PS3. This could easily hold true for all PSN games – have DeathSpank both at home, and on the go. With synchronized trophies, since the NGP is confirmed to have trophy support. And cloud saving as well, to easily carry saves across both platforms.
PS3 games could ship with NGP-only extras on the discs, accessible by connecting the two systems. For example, you could access a special NGP game mode, or some demos, or a perhaps a portion of the game’s online feature suite, or hell – maybe the whole damn game, just so you can have it on-the-go as well.
“But hold on,” you say. “This sounds like it could cheapen the NGP software brand name.” Well, yes. But that’s assuming Sony even plans to focus on an NGP software brand name, and I don’t think they’re going to. NGP games will be sold in stores, but the physical medium will be flash cartridges. That’s right, no more UMDs. In essence, Sony is doing something rather devious with the NGP: they’re continuing their push towards an all-digital format, but they’re selling it as a physical medium. According to the Eurogamer source, all developers at Sony’s london event were told that “All games at launch available on flash would also be on PSN.”
See, Ethos? You should have just waited for this!
Also, for the sake of pure speculation, let’s cross our fingers and hope that when the NGP is released, Sony will finally give fans what they’ve been clamoring for, and start releasing PS2 classics over PSN. 3DS will have a virtual console store for GBA games, and Sony needs to follow suit. All I know is that Final Fantasy X on a portable sounds pretty damn sweet. And so does Xenosaga. And Dragon Quest VIII. And lots of other I could surely come up with.
Much of this is yet to be seen, I know, but with the assumed focus on PS3-to-NGP compatibility, it seems that Sony is aiming the handheld squarely at their own userbase of PS3 owners. Which, if you think about it, isn’t a bad strategy. It’s kinda taking a page from Nintendo’s book in a way, and as we’ve already established it could work. If Sony sees this to its potential, and offers real rewards and useful features to PS3 owners who adopt an NGP, they could see great success. However, they do have….
Some Potential Obstacles to Overcome
Yeah, that. There are some things we don’t know about the NGP yet; some questions that need answering.
1. The Price Point – Yeah, this is honestly the biggest one. The 3DS costs $250. The NGP needs to stay around the $300 range, but I’m going to guess it’ll end up being around $350. For Sony’s sake, it better not cost any more.
2. Backwards Compatibility – it’s a bigger deal on handhelds, because while it’s practical enough to have two consoles plugged in, it makes no sense to carry around two portables. It’s safe enough to assume that any games released over PSN will be transferable, but what about all those god-damned UMD exclusives? Apparently Sony told Gigazine (via Adriansaang) that they’re working with third-party developers to bring more UMD games to the PSN store. They went on to say that they also plan to re-release PSP games on the NGP’s card-based format. However, there has been no further elaboration on the subject.
3. 3G Connectivity: Paid or Included? – it really needs to be included. Or, at the very least, make it part of a PSN+ subscription. Like a $10 addendum to the current PSN+ fee. My point is, don’t charge gamers an extra $30 per month for 3G connectivity. That would suck.
4. Cloud Saving – It’s gotta have cloud saving. If Sony really wants to market this thing as the PS3 owner’s companion, then Ethan’s gotta be able to carry his DeathSpank save from PS3 to NGP seamlessly. Sony hasn’t denied the prospect of cloud saving, but they haven’t confirmed it either. I’m 95% certain it will be included. If its not, it will have a decidedly negative effect on my desire to purchase the system.
I think the NGP could be a fantastic handheld. If they make it a valuable and useful device to a PS3 owner, offered at a reasonable price, then I’ll buy one. Truth be told, I’ll probably wait for the inevitable second iteration – which I predict will feature 3D. I just hope they don’t split the physical and downloadable games apart; I hope to be able to play all PSN games on the NGP, and I hope it has cloud saves. I hope all games released on flashcards see release over PSN. If they don’t establish a brand consistency between the two machines, Sony’s presence in the handheld market risks becoming irrelevant. They have an opportunity here to extend the reach of the PlayStation brand in some fantastic ways. Let’s see if they can capitalize on it.
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.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.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.
*If you notice, it’s not Friday when this article was posted. However, I don’t want to change it, so just keep in mind that half of this was written before the weekend and half on Monday*
I’m sitting at work on a Friday (this isn’t a common occurrence for me, I’m spoiled), but I’m so behind on Riddlethos that I’m determined to write something anyway. It’s officially Dead Space 2 Week (as evidenced by Riddles’ awesome impressions/comparisons below), but that doesn’t mean that the Riddlethos Awards are over! Oh no, they’re over when we say they’re over, damn it! (See, Riddles, I can do hilarious parenthetical comedy too).
Anyhoo, I’d love to tell you more of my ridiculous adventures in New York, and my plan was to do that first, but I might as well talk about my experience with the 3DS before I flat-out forget about it.
Ocarina of Time
This is the biggie. I played this demo 3 times. The first girl told me I wasn’t allowed headphones, but by the third time I was able to gleefully listen to the Kokori theme loudly in my ears. Although that made me smile even more, I actually don’t think the music got any sort of upgrade. In fact, I’m almost certain the music is exactly the same.
But everything else did. The upgraded graphics look so nice in motion, yet still instill the exact mood of the original. I still have every corner memorized, and anticipate every rupee placement. If anything felt different at all it was Link’s sidejump and backflip.
The animation is definitely smoother, so I’m not sure if it was that difference playing tricks on me, but the aforementioned actions seemed to take a little longer to perform. This isn’t necessarily a positive or negative if it’s even the case. It’s just a (potential) observation.
One other big plus: touch screen menus. Easier to access and maneuver. You still set two items to two buttons, but you can assign two more to touch-only buttons. Very convenient and it has been confirmed to work with the iron boots. Old news, maybe, but good news.
It probably doesn’t even need to be said that the gyro-sensor-to-aim stuff is really dumb, but you can luckily just use the analog stick. Although it seems to move annoyingly slowly. Hopefully there’ll be an option for that in the game. Options were disabled in the demo.
The 3D looks great, although I imagine I’ll only be using 3D about 25% of my total time with the 3DS. It’s just a bit more exhausting. Impressive, yes, but not necessary all the time.
Of course, that experience could be because of my lack of sleep, breakfast, and potentially even sober state of mind. BUT MORE ON THAT LATER.
Conclusion: Ocarina of Time’s awesome.
Pilot Wings Resort
This was my second favourite demo. I don’t think I’ve ever sung my praises to Pilot Wings 64 on this site, but I fucking love that game. I’ve sunk countless hours into it. I miss the days when I’d only have one game to intimately get to know. I would try and retry those missions over and over. My brothers and I would compete for better scores. It’s all the game I needed for a long time. Yeah, it looks like shit, but it plays wonderfully.
The 3DS game seems to be exactly the same. It was easily the worst looking game there from a graphical standpoint, but just from a short demo, my addiction to the N64 version started to resurface.
I only played the jetpack demo, but trying to softly land on targets as quickly as possible is still the challenge it was before. You have to manage speed and height as well as fight against the wind. In addition to those same challenges from the N64 game, there are new bonus point balls to fly through in transit to your next target. The possibilities for high scores and speed runs with this simple addition made me very excited.
Pilot Wings is the only game that I played in which the 3D truly provides a benefit. Judging the distance to a target took no guesswork. Only skill with the jetpack’s boosters. And I guess I lost most of that skill since 1996, but I’ll get it back.
The Other Stuff
Street Fighter IV looked really good. The animations were nice and it controlled well. The 3D is completely pointless in a 2D fighter. If anything it just made me distracted by the popping backgrounds. I’d play with 3D off if I were a Street Fighter guy.
Madden. Who cares? But again, a game to show that the 3DS can make some nice looking images.
Kid Icarus. Yes, this goes in “The Other Stuff”. It was incredibly underwhelming. It was flashy and fast and a complete bitch to control. I only played 5 minutes or so, but still: Big meh.
Some other demo stuff. There was some submarine game played with the gyroscope. It was accurate, but who cares? I’m not going to be spinning around in my chair to play a demo.
Also something called “AR Games”. Meaning Augmented Reality Games. Another thing I don’t care about, but it definitely made for a better demo. Basically you put a card on a table and the 3DS camera shoots that card and the screens show the output. Then the system interacts with the card to make it look like shit is coming out of it. Because the screen of the system is actually showing what’s in front of you, it is pretty cool to see a dragon come out of nowhere. But it’s a total gimmick with no legs to make any sort of full game. Fun for the day, but nothing more.
The System Itself
It’s basically a DS in design. Same basic size as a DSi. Better stylus (extendable), and a great analog stick. Truly. It’s smooth and accurate. Miles better than the PSP nub. Although the NGP ones are looking slick too even if I have no interest in that system yet.
The 3D is what everybody says. It works. It looks good. And except for the single aforementioned instance, there’s no examples for its necessity yet.
However, let it be said that while in the Deku Tree – jumping over a ledge while looking down a big drop with the 3D turned on all the way – the effect was very impressive. I spent about 30 seconds just jumping back and forth over a ledge. So there is at least potential for very visually appealing stuff.
What I Wish Was There
Paper Mario. Star Fox. Mario Kart. Even Kingdom Hearts: Dumber Name. Was disappointed that it wasn’t there.
They also were playing movie trailers in 3D. And let me tell you, watching the trailer for Yogi Bear in 3D without glasses was the most confusing experience ever. I was so simultaneously impressed and disgusted that I truly didn’t know what to feel.
But it’s Monday now! I have to attach pictures to this shit and finally post it before Riddles murders me in my sleep!
STILL! I have much to discuss from my trip, and while I don’t have much time now, I’m going to at least paste the notes I took in the press conference. I didn’t even know it was going to be a press conference at all, much less one with Reggie, so it took me by surprise. So I decided to take notes like a liveblog even though it wasn’t one. So here’s the copy/paste of that:
-presentation about to start. Cramped seating. Two presentation
screens. GET IT?! Isn’t Ninty clever?
-recapping e3 reveal. News clips.
-talking about Mario64?
-talking about waggle “and that brings us to today.” Yikes.
-talking about taking 3D pictures of my kids. I don’t have kids, Reggie.
-Announcing price today. Launch date. Launch games.
-2gig card with system.
-Showing home menu. Looks like the Wii
-green light: local connectivity.
-”It’s a game changer” is their big thing.
-talking games now.
-Pilot Wings at launch!
-The tech for the game actually sounds cool. Face recognition. Still don’t really care.
-Steel Diver game? Just a tech demo before. Full game now.
-I get to play Zelda today. Booya!
-kid Icarus too. But I hear that controls like crap.
-3rd party now. Dead or Alive. Developer video. I love the Japanese language.
-Sports games lalala. Peter Moore video.
-okay, feeling hungover now. Street Fighter IV video.
-ooo, spectator mode! Online play.
-between launch and e3: 30 games available. Apparently.
-ooo! Built-in stats! And a pedometer? That gives me in-game currency? What?
-New Mii creator with picture import.
-Finally seems a little more social. Miis will swap in Street Pass
including ‘last game played’.
-talking about AR games? I missed that.
-change to friend codes. No more software-specific codes. Make friends
online, no need to necessarily enter codes. You can see which friends
are online. Way more community than anything Nintendo has done, that’s for sure.
-For me, this is makes the Wii even more irrelevant.
-easier digital game downloads. New and virtual console titles. New
store looks improved for Nintendo. Don’t know if it’ll be the psn
store, but definitely better than before.
-$250! Not 300.
-March 27 launch.
150 ds stations. I’mma go play!
And that’s all I wrote! Spoilers: Kid Icarus DOES control like crap. More in this series as soon as I can.
Love you guys. Just got back. Exhausting time. Full impressions of the press conference, event, and all the games I played tomorrow. Too pooped to even find a picture of a tired dude and post it.
I think amidst all the non-award madness that’s been going on here, I forgot to tell you all that I’m flying out to New York today to check out the 3DS tomorrow.
I have no idea how much I’ll be seeing, how much I’ll get to play, or how much will be embargoed, but I promise that anything that I am allowed to tell you, I will tell you.
Anyway, Riddles tells me that he’ll finally post some awards while I’m gone. I’ll believe it when I see it.
Well, in classic Riddlethos form once again, we’ve written/done/played absolutely nothing that coincides with the theme week. I even said I was going to bite the bullet and play some Fable this week, but I didn’t! You can always count on us to never follow through on anything, ever. We’re consistent like that.
But, while I may not have anything to say about Fable, I’m here to bring you the Sunday Soapbox in spite of this. Today, boys and girls, we’re going to be discussing the recently-leaked PlayStation Phone, and how it will fit into the portable gaming market, as well as the overcrowded Smartphone market of today. As you can gather by the title of this article, my view on it is just a tad cynical.
The PlayStation Phone is a smartphone made by Sony’s struggling Sony Ericsson branch. It’s design is similar to the PSPGo, with a sliding top screen revealing a set of PlayStation-branded buttons and a D-pad. Instead of an analog nub there’s a touch-sensitive track pad. It’s rumored to be about as powerful as the PSP, and while it still hasn’t been officially confirmed, it’s practically a given – original proprietors of the leak, Endgadget, swear by it – and they’ve got quite the track record when it comes to stuff like this. Among other things, they were the first to leak information on the iPad and the Nexus One .
The leak comes at a time when there’s actually quite a bit of buzz taking place in the portable gaming sector. For one, the Nintendo 3DS has been getting quite a bit of attention lately, with its glasses-less 3D technology and impressive lineup of titles set for launch. Given the hype surrounding it, and given that it actually looks like a solid, interesting device, I’m willing to bet that the 3DS will only fuel the fire behind Nintendo’s lifelong dominance of the handheld arena. (Excluding the iPhone, that is.)
That’s not all, though. Apparently Sony is hard at work on a true successor to the PSP, and some lucky people were able to hear about it at a private meeting during the Tokyo Game Show. Known across the internets as the “PSP2,” the device is said to be quite a bit more powerful than the original PSP and the PlayStation Phone; word on the street is that it will pack 1 GB of RAM. To illustrate, that’s twice the amount of RAM in an Xbox 360 console. Further word on the street is that the device will feature an HD display, a touch screen, and dual analog sticks. Oh, and there’s no UMD drive – which, in this case, I am all for. In all, it sounds like an impressive device – a device poised to compete not only with Nintendo, but with Apple. Y’know, kinda like what the PSPGo was supposed to do.
So, to summarize: we have Nintendo, set to release an exciting new handheld gaming system featuring technology that we’ve never seen utilized in such a way. We have Sony, working hard on a powerful, UMD-less gaming system that could make the impact that the PSPGo didn’t – and then some.
We have Apple. Apple’s iPhone and iPads have more units in the hands of the public than any handheld system. What’s amazing to me is that even the iPad has taken off in such a way – which is a lesson to be learned that size, apparently doesn’t matter if you market your shit correctly. (Sony, perhaps, has picked up on this – the PSP2’s screen is said to be at least an inch larger than that of the original PSP.)
So. In the midst of all this, what possible piece can a PlayStation Phone cut for itself? A bit of a stumper, isn’t it? The handheld gaming space is well-populated right now, and if people need anything, it isn’t necessarily more options.
As a PSP owner, have you ever fondled your PSP gently in your hands and breathed, “if you could only make phone calls.”
No? Yes? If you said “yes,” then you’re probably a gamer, and a fairly devoted one at that. (Otherwise you wouldn’t be on this site.) But while Sony may be able to sell this thing to a select demographic of gamers, they’re gonna have to do more than that if they want the PlayStation Phone to make a serious impact in the portable marketplace.
And here’s part two of why the PlayStation Phone makes no sense: not only will Sony be releasing this thing into an overpopulated handheld gaming market, they’ll be dumping the PlayStation Phone smack dab into an even more overpopulated Smartphone market.
Hell, I don’t even own a SmartPhone, and I’ve spent the last six months or so going back and forth on what to (eventually) buy. People (myself included) were just starting to wrap their head around this whole Android vs. iPhone thing, and then BAM, Windows Phones. (Fuck you, Windows Phones. But god damn, do you look beautiful.)
Word has it that the PlayStation Phone will run the Gingerbread OS (that being Android 3.0) by Google. This, of course, makes one wonder how Sony can effectively brand the device as “PlayStation” if it’s, y’know… running on different software. If I don’t see the Xcross Media Bar when I boot the device up, it won’t feel like a PlayStation device to me. Or anyone, I’d presume. It’s said that the phone will feature a specialized Sony marketplace that will allow you to purchase games and other products from the PlayStation Store. That sort of brand licensing doesn’t seem like something Sony would be privy to doing. But, if the phone is indeed running the Android OS, I don’t see how else they could approach it.
Oh, and I’d be remiss not to mention: Sony Ericsson isn’t exactly the most respected or, uh, profitable branch Sony has right now. They’ve lost most of the share they had in the smartphone market, and one has to wonder why Sony would even want to put their PlayStation brand name on a Sony Ericsson phone.
So. I ask again: what market is this identity-confused phone meant for?
Soon after the leak, Sony’s VP of Marketing was quoted in an interview with CNN as saying that gamers were unsatisfied with the current software offerings in Apple’s iPhone/iPad library. “These are largely time-killers. Gamers aren’t satisfied with that.”
Okay! So… you want to offer more hardcore on-the-go experiences? Because, y’know, I’d really like to pull out my smartphone and complete a few quests in Dragon Age during my 15 at work. Point being, I don’t think there’s many hardcore gamers in the world screaming out for hardcore experiences on their smartphones.
Care to guess why?
Because hardcore gamers play hardcore games on consoles. And handheld gaming systems. That’s why.
Am I making sense? I feel like I’m making perfect sense here. As a hardcore gamer, my smartphone needs and my hardcore gaming needs are two entirely different things. If Sony makes a phone that can play God of War, I’m not going to give a rat’s ass, because I’d much rather play God of War on my PS3. Or hell, my PSP even.
Maybe I’m judging to harshly, too quickly, or both. Sony still hasn’t “officially” revealed anything. But this much is clear: whatever the PlayStation phone ends up being, whatever tech it packs, and whatever demographic Sony is aiming for, they’ve got a hell of an uphill battle from here.