Thursday, January 27, 2011

Handheld Ho-hum (PSP2)

I feel like I should have an opinion about the just-announced PSP2 but hate commenting about handhelds because I'm not their target audience. The truth is I spend most of my time where I want to be and little time in transition where a handheld is important, so the vast amount of time I spend gaming (in itself an impressive amount of time) is in the comfort of my own home, where nearly any handheld experience that wins my attention must do so versus a stack of "living room" games, and almost always has me wishing at some point that it was made as one, where I didn't have to squint my eyes and crane my neck to enjoy it. The PSP2 lineup, with its Uncharted's and Resistances, seem to fall into this category.

If I think of game experiences I actually prefer on a handheld, they are things I wouldn't want or can't have on my TV, (a) like brief games (Angry Birds), (b) "low-res" games (Scribblenauts, Phoenix Wright), or (c) games that take advantage of their unique input due to their small size (the first Zelda game for the DS).

Oddly, the games I've noticed for 3DS also fit few of these categories, making me shrug at that system, too. The most interesting things have been the app that makes virtual reality out of what it sees via the camera and lets you shoot at it (a,c), and the 3D camera.

I know I will be tempted by the new handhelds, but both -- especially the PSP2 -- look to deliver experiences I once again compare unfavorably against my living room games. This is the kind of thing, however, that I prefer to be wrong about. Since my data collection is incomplete, I still hold out hope of spotting news that lets me feel like I'm part of the handheld club.


  1. Not much of a portable gamer myself, but I'm glad to see OLED used more. Hopefully we will have decent priced computer monitors soon. Death to LCD!!!

  2. Personally, I love portable games because I have so little time, and the ability to play games in small snippets is really my only option. The jump-in, jump-out style of play is great for small arcade-like games, but much less compelling with continuous games where immersion is an important part of the experience. Strangely, I like developing the latter more, but I expect the industry to become more portable and lean more and more toward the former in the future (at least for the next few years). I can't help but wonder if a hybrid design is possible---something that can give the on-the-go audience a more deep and compelling experience.

  3. I'm looking forward to playing the NGP. I want to see how good on an idea it is.

  4. I also prefer handheld games in snippets which is partly why I found the NGP lineup so curious. I never really think of Uncharted as a snippet experience. But honestly, the great fire and forget games that take advantage of the novel interface on your smart phone have to be the biggest threat in this arena. About the only real-estate that leaves in my "i don't want this in my living room" mindshare is retro-gaming.