Saturday, June 1, 2013
What Makes a Portable Game Portable?
With Animal Crossing: New Leaf on the near horizon and twenty-five of my dollars ensuring that I will have a 3DS XL bundle at the GameStop I frequent on the 9th, I have found myself rather oddly excited to jump back into the world of Animal Crossing, as well as get to know the 3DS properly. Getting to know a 3DS properly, if you listen to a lot of detractors for the Vita, will allow me to get properly introduced to -actual- portable games, and not just 'watered-down console scraps'. That part is interesting to me for many reasons, all of which should probably be obvious, but without getting too snarky, it did get me thinking. Why is there a notion that the 3DS' offerings are so much more 'portable-focused' than the Vita's?
Let's take the example'd Animal Crossing: New Leaf since it is literally the game I'm getting a 3DS XL for since Rune Factory 4 still has a tentative release date. I legitimately have to question the portability of a game that originated on a console, and has seen only two more releases til now - another one that was just on a console, and a portable one that was literally just like the console one, but missing a few things. Surely, if Uncharted: Golden Abyss = Uncharted on consoles and thus isn't a portable title, Animal Crossing checks the exact same boxes, yes? Unless, I suppose, there was something in the gameplay that would differentiate it as such.
Animal Crossing is a full-out simulation game, complete with town management (not even counting the new Mayor stuff, just tidying up and collecting things), networking between residents and time-specific events - not only things that only happen at certain times a day, but random events where people want to show up at your place at a specific time, or give you something to give to someone else before a timer counts down. Moreso because of that last point, I'd say that it doesn't really qualify there either, as that is not a 'pick-up-and-play-put-down-whenever' aspect, as I assume we're judging by here. Not only is that something that'll make you continue to play the game far beyond when you actually mean to, thus not allowing you to put it down whenever, it works off of the system clock, not the game clock (because there is no game clock, it's -just- the system clock) meaning that you can't even just shut it to put it to sleep. It'll still run, it'll still trigger that event and if you miss it, that's it.
My point is not that the Vita's titles are not guilty of being console series, but rather that, well, the biggest 3DS titles are as well. Mario Kart 7, Castlevania: Lords of Shadow - Mirror of Fate (Castlevania games on the DS have been big deals in the past, though they were Igavania affairs), Fire Emblem: Awakening, Kingdom Hearts 3D: Dream Drop Distance, The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time 3D, Luigi's Mansion: Dark Moon, Metal Gear Solid: Snake Eater 3D, New Super Mario Bros. 2, Resident Evil: Revelations, Shin Megami Tensei IV and Super Mario 3D Land are all likely some of the biggest titles on the system, yet every single one comes from a console series or franchise. The only one that I more or less -know- works as a portable title is Fire Emblem: Awakening, with the others being possible, but I don't really know. OoT3D is a friggin' N64 game. So I'm really missing where the 'true portability' comes in that makes these -not- 'watered-down console ports'. I mean, I guess in the case of OoT3D, it's an -enhanced- port, but you know what I'm getting at.
Then you have a game like Soul Sacrifice which was built specifically around the theory of portability. Small maps with very direct encounters that are meant to last anywhere from a minute to ten/fifteen minutes if you get really unlucky. Obviously the longer things inhibit your ability to call it portable, as well as the multiplayer aspect, but with those, if you're planning on playing it online, you're -likely- not doing it from a place where you need to be able to immediately put it down and leave. Everything screams "this is a title for a portable console" and it's on the Vita. Perhaps it's because it's a recent release that it doesn't count? I don't know, it's all a bit silly and it's silly that I've gone on this long about it.
Really, the point is that both systems have portable games that are actually portable, and games that kind of aren't but are on a portable system anyway. Both of them generally have a manner to -make- them more portable anyway, with the 3DS' sleep and the Vita's out to LiveArea. So all I'm getting at is that if you hear someone telling you one system has more 'actual portable games' or 'no lame console ports', punch them in the back of the head. Or do something less violent, I guess.
god, that kind of went nowhere