As you might notice from my recent posts, handheld gaming has taken an increasingly large portion of my coverage. All the good stuff just seems to be coming out this month in particular, and between running Tactics Ogre : Let Us Cling Together with Prota just after finishing Final Fantasy Tactics : The War of the Lions and the race to finish Pokemon White and Okamiden continuing, I haven’t really touched any of the big consoles this month.
That said, I’d like to discuss the next wave of handheld systems : the 3DS and the “NGP” along with my concerns for each.
On Nintendo’s side, I can’t complain about the amount of quality games coming out. We’re getting great stuff, a couple of disappointments, but overall enough to keep me coming back for other games. If only the same treatment went toward the actual quality of the console, it would be perfect. Currently I own the original gray model, two DS Lites that have torn out L and R triggers from trying to figure out why they would stop working and a 3DS that not only has busted triggers, but shuts itself off randomly wasting hours I’ve spent on games not taking into account that I typically use my DS as my alarm clock so I can make it to class on time…
Unable to speak for the DSiXL (Don’t have one) Nintendo has been sacrificing good button design and durable construction for a sleeker look and shoddy attempts to appeal to groups that don’t play many games in the first place. The transition to Lite wasn’t too bad except for the top triggers dying all the time. In an experiment I did years ago, I tore off one of my triggers to examine how the mechanism worked — in short it’s a tiny spike on the underside of the trigger pressing on a tiny button that barely reaches the same size, so I’m not surprised that half of my attempts hitting the triggers would not count over time. It’s a miserable design flaw that they were stupid enough to carry over to the DSi.
My experience with the DSi has been insulting to say the least. Sure we get better lighting, enhanced color detail and a pair of cameras that provide a few minutes of fun while you alter photos, but not enough games support the cameras because of the ridiculous lighting requirement. Really, I just wanted to play some Wario Ware, not a piece of shit that literally breaks down before starting because it can’t detect my hand or face.
The faulty trigger design remains as well as my power issue, the bottom corners actually cut into my hand because of the outer lip that refuses to be even with the actual control panel, and GBA support was removed, for what? For a hip enhancement to a handheld whose original model works near perfect to this day and is 10 times more reliable? The 3DS better not continue this shit and return to a system design that doesn’t hurt the hands.
On Sony’s end, the problem isn’t in the button design unless you count the annoying analog stick. Regular buttons are placed perfectly and feel natural on the hands and a TV-Output option exists for gamers who like to look at the big screen while playing these games (myself). It’s a shame that it’s mostly a system for niche RPG games nowadays, cause it’s capable of much more, and for the record, the UMD is not a horrible format especially on the 3000 models. I need my Ys fix? My classic FF fix? The PSP approach to both looks and plays better than the DS counterparts (half-assed 3d models don’t beat sharp looking 2d visuals I’m afraid).
How does Sony combat the DS lineup? By focusing on the system specs! Save that shit for the development room or tech website where people jizz all over that stuff. I want to know what games are planned, whether or not TV-Out is an option, how they plan on packaging their games because I’m sure as fuck not spending 50 bucks on a game I can only download and how I’ll be investing in a quality gaming platform and not some do-it-all multimedia device.
I’m already sold on the 3DS because of the list of games, including at launch. I don’t know what the naysayers I keep seeing on forums have to bitch about the launch lineup as a matter of fact : A new Pilotwings, a new Super Monkey Ball and an experimental submarine game that could either be really boring or surprisingly awesome? (Steel Diver) I can understand if money’s an issue, but other folks need to pull their head out of their asses. It’s a well spread launch with great games on the horizon. In the meantime I’ll still wait for Sony to elaborate on their new handheld plans while gradually caring less, they’re off to a good start already.