Handheld consoles are becoming more powerful than they ever have been before. At the same time, is that always going to be a good thing?
Yes its a good thing. Theres nothing to stop people from making retro style games, just look at all the 8 and 16 bit games indie devs make.
It is less about what developers can do and more about what they must do. Ie, on the Game Boy, you must make a control scheme that works with four buttons and a d-pad. On the 3DS, you CAN do that, but you do not have to. I'd love to see some more indie games made that could be possible on, say, the original Game Boy. Only grey/white or green/white, no more than four buttons + d-pad, screen limitations, object limits, etc. I love Shovel Knight as much as the next person (one of my favorite indie games ever), and it really does feel like a modern day NES game, but it also has a lot of things that are impossible on the NES. It can render more objects at once, it uses more buttons, it has a more diverse color scheme, etc.
One Joycon is basically a SNES controller and tons of Switch games are being developed with this kn mind, Pocket rumble for example.
And I applaud the Pocket Rumble designers for taking the initiative to make games of that style, certainly.
Powerful handhelds have their merits
I agree; I even say so in the article. But those merits are not without cost. It's entirely give and take; by having more power and capabilities, developers have fewer restrictions on what they can do.
You also said 3DS was powerful which it relatively wasn't. It was just as powerful for its time as Game Boy, Game Boy Color, Game Advance, and DS were for their respective times. 3DS had far more limitations than its contemporary rival the Vita, so it shouldn't be mentioned in the same sentence as Vita & Switch. Also saying certain Wii U games being derivative of 3DS isn't anything to hold against 3DS exclusively since it's a common Nintendo practice. For example many Wii games were derivative of DS games like NSMB1/NSMBW, Animal Crossing DS/ Animal Crossing City Folk, & Warioware Touched/Warioware Smooth Moves. Having more power also means developers have more tools to make games that they otherwise couldn't on weaker hardware.
But despite being weaker than Switch and Vita, it still has some of the problems that I find. There's a blurring of lines between handheld and console. And while I understand that power gives more tools, the tools already exist. For me, the value of a handheld is not getting a console experience on it, but rather that I can play something unique, neat, and designed specifically for that system. A good comparison would be Grand Theft Auto: Liberty City Stories and Grand Theft Auto: Chinatown Wars. With the former, the game tried to emulate the console experience, but I don't think it worked out like they would have liked. With Chinatown Wars though, it was a lot more fun to me because other GTA games - at least games released in that gen - didn't play like Chinatown Wars played. So for me, when the line between handheld and console is blurred, there's less reason to do something like Chinatown Wars because you can do a console GTA more easily now.
That's because technology has to evolve. GTA: Liberty City Stories was still a great game to play as were titles like FFVII: Crisis Core, Kingdom Hearts: Birth by Sleep, Daxter, etc. Blurring isn't a bad thing. When you compare something like Kingdom Hearts: Chain of Memories, Kingdom Hearts: 358/2 Days, & Kingdom Hearts: re:Coded to Kingdom Hearts: Birth by Sleep it's apparent that the hardware limitations of the former three them less enjoyable to play than BBS. Limitations isn't something that automatically makes games better.
Even if the 3DS is far weaker that doesn't change the fact that games like Resident Evil Revelation can look like it do.
Thing is though, I am not claiming that power makes for bad games, nor that limitations make for good games. Either could happen or not happen. Of course developers can still be creative with their games on the most powerful consoles, but not out of a desire to find a way to circumvent a limitation of the platform they are on. But I guess my question would be, how does Liberty City Stories compare to Grand Theft Auto III? Does it have value besides portability? It's ultimately the issue of whether I would have gotten Chinatown Wars if the DS could pull off a console-like GTA experience.
@ Otaku Yeah the visuals in Resident Evil: Revelations are great for the handheld. @ New It holds up as a quality game. A game should be judged on its own individual merits than being compared to something else. It's like saying since Super Mario Land isn't as great as Super Mario Bros, it holds no merit. A game has value regardless of what platform it's released on. Super Mario 64 & The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time are just as great on N64 as they are on DS & 3DS respectively just as Kingdom Hearts: Birth by Sleep & God of War: Chains of Olympus are just as great on PSP as they are on PS3. You will get any game as long it it has quality irregardless of what kind of experience it offers.
Technology, like everything else, must evolve. This mean that as time goes on handheld will become more and more powerful no matter if we like it or not. I personally support powerful handheld (as long as the battery is respectable) because I want more AAA support with great graphic and gameplay.
3 hours of battery life for graphically intensive games is about the best you could ever hope for in a handheld WITHOUT having an external battery pack that is.
Vita and 3DS are almost seven years old, much better battery tech has come along since then. A successor to those could easily achieve 6-10 hours on one charge, maybe even more depending on what they go with.
Sgt_Slaughter please point me to this better battery tech. Battery tech has made almost no advancement in many years.
It will keep console makers on their toes.. Ill never buy a phone game unless i have to but thats because console games are still that much better
Why would you ever HAVE to buy a phone game? Unless you work for a gaming site.
Because eventually everything will be digital and or available on our phones..
This article is dumb as hell. It's like asking if smart phone is a bad thing. We all should be using phone booth.
I believe you misunderstand the article. At no point does the article claiming that handheld consoles being more powerful is a bad thing, so that analogy doesn't make any sense. Though to respond to that, phone booths are a great asset when people's phone dies or is stolen. This is not "smart phones are bad," it's "there are aspects of phone booths that have merit."
Well, Nintendo itself classifies the Switch as a home console first. It just so happens to sport a portable form factor: it's essentially the laptop of the home console industry. In any case, portable technology has been advancing at a stellar rate primarily since smartphones and tablets came onto the scene. Modern-day mobile devices are very capable (as evidenced by the Switch) and that will only continue to be the case as more people adopt these devices. I don't really get why the author thinks that having more powerful portable systems limits creativity. That is something that's completely up to the developers; if they feel like taking the easy way out, then they will. Since the Switch is a hybrid, then it technically doesn't suffer from this problem because its titles are of similar quality to the other home systems in the first place, unlike the REAL handheld which is the 3DS.
As the author, to clarify, I do not feel that power limits creativity - simply that things that would otherwise encourage handheld game developers to deviate. Ie, would Link's Awakening have the inventory system that it has if it had SNES controls? Or even one extra button? You make a good point that the Switch doesn't suffer from having inferior versions of console concepts; the Switch was more framing for the issue of devoted handhelds possibly being at risk, and thus having fewer middle-budget games. I should have phrased that better.
No problem, my friend. It was still a good article, I just couldn't pick up exactly where you were trying to make your point. In any case, what I was trying to say is that the Switch shouldn't suffer from the issue that you mentioned because it's not standing in the realm of handhelds, it's instead standing in the realm of home consoles. If the Switch were a true handheld, then Nintendo wouldn't currently be pushing the 3DS so hard.
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