Waning handheld gaming

Some time ago I wrote this little text about how I wasn’t playing any games on my smartphone. I got some responses about that from people, with a lot of them still edging closer to the fanboy divide of iOS vs. Android. However, there was one remark that was more or less a direct hit: “but do you still play any handheld games then?”

The answer, of course, is “no”. After being blown away by Tetris for PlayStation Minis just over a year ago, it’s rather worrying to discover that was also the last handheld game I played. To any serious extent then. I picked up Mega Man Zero Collection for the Nintendo DS at the start of summer, but it was more out of courtesy and love for the series than to actually play it.

Both my Nintendo DS and PSP go unused. The last handheld game I did play was one of the many, many Metroid: Zero Mission runs I’ve made in my life, so that doesn’t really count.

But the worrying part is not so much that I’m not using my handhelds, it’s more that there are new ones on the horizon. The Nintendo 3DS is already a must-buy because it harbors the first Kid Icarus title in more moons than I care to count and Sony is sneakily moving its PSP platform towards the Android-space while setting up a new one with the PSP2.

Am I going to play these extensively? It’s hard to say and that’s not something I’d expect myself to think. The Nintendo DS has survived for a bizarrely long time, which might explain why I am done with the platform. The PSP is clinically dead. But the Nintendo 3DS was underwhelming when I had my first go on the device back in July. Apart from the 3D graphics gimmick that was old hat within mere minutes, there wasn’t a big game changing aspect that made me think this was more than a Nintendo DS. Nor was it going to provide me with ‘new games’.

Yeah, OK, there’s Kid Icarus again. But pulling nostalgia-strings has always been Nintendo’s strategy when introducing new handheld platforms. Whatever the PSP2 will do, I have no idea. Talk about graphics ‘nearing PS3 level quality‘ seems vapid and useless. Smartphones have discovered that while on the go, people would rather have short, simple and casual games. Neither the Nintendo 3DS nor the PSP2 (from what little info there is about that latter device) seem to go down that route.

The Nintendo 3DS (and PSP2 if it provides a new Monster Hunter) will probably be a success, but I’m becoming increasingly sceptic about acknowledging that it’s the way forward for the handheld space. Which, considering my previous article, means I’m probably binning handheld gaming altogether.