Tobold's Blog
Monday, June 17, 2013
Handheld consoles

I was in a shop this weekend, holding a "Nintendo 3DS with Fire Emblem Awakening Pre-Installed" in my hands, but ended up not buying it. I am pretty sure that I would enjoy playing Fire Emblem. But as I don't have the 3DS handheld console, buying the game would mean buying the console. And at €220 for the bundle that is a lot of money for a single game. There were a few other games that looked interesting as well, like some Zelda game, but nothing except Fire Emblem which was really must-have for me. And when looking at the demo 3DS on display in the shop, I couldn't help but think I was looking at a type of machine that was already outdated.

I used to take a handheld console (a PSP) with me during summer holidays. Easier to transport than a laptop, easier to play in a comfortable sofa chair. But when I'm planning what to take on this year's summer holiday, the handheld console is staying home. I'll take the iPad instead. The iPad is larger, but thinner, and the charger is much lighter, so overall it isn't any more difficult to stow into a holiday suitcase than the PSP. I have a lot more iPad games than PSP games, as the iPad games are much cheaper. The screen is much bigger, offering more elaborate games. Touch controls are often less fiddly than console controls. And for other applications than games, like reading e-mail or surfing the web, the iPad is so much superior to the PSP that there isn't really a contest.

So as much as I regret missing out on some games which are exclusive to handheld consoles, I don't think I will buy any new handheld consoles any more. Neither a Nintendo 3DS, nor a PS Vita, nor anything similar. For me tablets have made those handheld consoles somewhat obsolete. And some of the games I used to play on the PSP, like Final Fantasy Tactics, have since been released on the iPad. So maybe one day I can get Fire Emblem on the iPad.

DOTP 2014 will be released on iPad in about 9 days. It will have a sealed component in addition to its normal pre-defined decks. That should be good timing for your holiday.
The first and last handheld console that I owned was the GBA. I do have games on my iOS devices, but I rarely play them. If I have some idle time during the day, I tend to read a few pages of an eBook or watch a video podcast. I think my problem with portable gaming devices of any kind boils down to a single requirement: I need to be able to switch my mental context between the real world and the device at any time and as frequently as needed. Games require more focus than a book or a video, and autosaves aren't either automatic enough or granular enough to preserve my progress at all times.
wh quest - also a holiday must have ;)good old school warhammer setting (turn based rpg).
Fire Emblem could work just fine on a tablet. Unfortunately many other genes don't work as well with those awful touch screen approximations of analogue sticks. Until such time as there is a controller addon with full support from major devs I have no choice but to buy a hand held.
I really can't stand the on-screen virtual controls. Damn, there are so many cool games for Android iOS, and I'm unable to play them for that erason.
Also try smuggling your tablet into the toilets at work for a twenty minute skive on Animal Crossing.

Not happening! They will spot you from a mile off!
What's all this fuzz around Animal Crossing? What's the selling point of it?
wh quest - also a holiday must have ;)good old school warhammer setting (turn based rpg).

I'm playing that one, although I'm not happy with the magic system. Getting a random amount of magic points per turn (and sometimes none at all if you are surprised) which might or might not be enough to cast a spell is really annoying.
The future is certainly mobile. For one thing, most people get new generations of pad/phone devices more frequently and hardware matters. If you are getting a new pad/phone every couple of years, then the HHG is an incremental expense. Laptop sales are also being reduced by the rise of mobile.

The question is do the gaming companies keep producing new gen HHG?
Only if the Wii U really fails will Fire Emblem ever be on tablets. Nintendo has said they will never go software only. They would let the company go bankrupt before that.
If you buy a PS4 you will buy a Vita too. Believe me. The Vita becomes the 2nd screen for the PS4
I'm contemplating buying a PSVita because Why Not, as I liked the PSP. As much as I'm enjoying my Nexus 7 and my Nook HD+, the Android games --many of which are a lot more involved and fun than I expected-- are still just not as good as what you can get from a single dedicated handheld title. I's the techie geek in me that demands I own it all, I guess.

The need to autosave on a hand-held console isn't as sire as Mika is making it out to be, but I guess that's probably because he hasn't had one since the GBA. The PSP just needs you to hit the power button and it goes into sleep mode. No need to autosave since the next time you hit the power button you're exactly back where you were before. This does drain power, but not very quickly. I can play for an hour on the bus to work, be at work for 8 or 9 hours, and still play for an hour on the bus back home afterwards. The 3DS works the same way, except there you just need to close the lid and everything except the music app will pause and go to sleep.
iOS games can technically do the same by suspending the program when the device is locked or the user switches apps. But do games actually use it? No. They have the same designated save spots they always had.
Isn't that a reason to get a handheld console instead of just running an ipad then? Especially for someone who does commute on mass transit?
Mika, I think it depends what games you are playing. Currently playing Warhammer Quest on the iPad, and is suspends the game just fine when I close the cover. Many games I've played on the iPad don't even have a "save" button or checkpoint, they just autosave without me even noticing.
Woody said: "Also try smuggling your tablet into the toilets at work for a twenty minute skive on Animal Crossing.

Not happening! They will spot you from a mile off!"

What happened to the 'boss' key games used to have?
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