Monday, April 13, 2009

Big Red Potion Episode # 9: Afterword

My recent guest spot on Big Red Potion in which Sinan Kubba, Joe Delia, myself, and Xantiriad, of Ninja Fat Pigeons fame, discuss each and every aspects of handheld gaming. It was by far the longest BRP yet (clocking in at just shy of two hours), but we had a wealth of content to explore, and I think we covered a lot of interesting ground. Give it a listen.

Though I must say that even at 2 hours, there were still things I wanted to say, but never got around to. Like whether playing a handheld game at home entirely defeats the purpose. I know lots of people who prefer Zelda: Phantom Hourglass to Twilight Princess or the Wind Waker, even if they're just playing it at home anyway. I hinted at this briefly, but there's something about that the intimate, tactile feel of the touch screen that makes these sorts of games so much more accessible. Particularly in Phantom Hourglass with its note taking function. Thus, handheld games can offer an experience (beyond mere convenience) that you cannot get on a home console.

Yet, at the same time, a console experience can give you something you cannot get on a handheld (besides graphics). I touched upon that briefly citing survival horror and Silent Hill as an example, but I wanted to expand upon my belief that a portable PS2 might not work as well as we'd think as so many of my favorite PS2 games require them to be played in long doses. I don't think I could play something like Metal Gear Solid 3 or Okami in 15 minute increments on a commute. I mean technically I could, but I'd feel as if I were stopping just as soon as I'd get into the swing of things. Those two games in particular give you plenty of save points (not to mention the sleep function that is standard on handhelds these days), but I feel like they just take a lot out of me mentally to get in and out of that space.

Another thing I thought about after recording was my response to why big sites never pick a handheld game as Game of the Year- I believe there's a stigma attached to handheld games that they're just something to do as backup when you're not around a console. It seems to be a common belief that no one in their right mind would want to play these games when they could be playing a console game. That people only play portable games because they're portable. If they were so good, why aren't they on a console? I don't agree with this line of thinking, but that seems to be the mainstream media's take on the issue, and let's face it; we think about what we hear about. I loved Bangai-O Spirits, played it a ton for a week, then beat all the levels and never thought back on it. Why? Because no one else was talking about it. And that's something we need to change.

Furthermore, I hypothesized that the handheld market will be the future of the indie game market. I sure hope so. More people own DSs than any console out there, so you'd think releasing something like Braid or World of Goo on a DS or iphone would make more money, but perhaps not, as people wouldn't have written about it so much. Then again, no one expected so much to be written about Portal or Braid prior to their release, so maybe one of these days a handheld will have their sleeper-hit bringing them into the "hardcore" public eye. The World Ends With You and Patapon were a nice step in that direction certainly.

One a side note: Anyone else feel like Pixeljunk Eden would be perfect for a handheld? I may have seemed down on Sony on the podcast, but they have some brilliant software like that that would make for a great port for the PSP. There's my piece of constructive criticism for them, anyhow.
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