My Videogame Life Pt. 3 (The Conclusion!)

-The Present & The Future-

So after reading the first 2 parts of this whole thing, we’re finally up to the present day of gaming, but let’s backtrack just a touch. I haven’t really covered handheld consoles, so let’s do that real quick…

I was never a handheld gamer until around the time of the Gameboy Advance. I had played an original Gameboy along the way, but the Advance was what really sold me on how awesome handhelds could be. Essentially, the GBA was a mini-SNES. Need I say more? How could you not love the fact that Nintendo was allowing ports of old 16-bit titles along with brand new IPs on a relatively cheap console? We were able to get Final Fantasy IV, V and VI (all with their correct Japanese numbering), new Metroid(s), Castlevania and a slew of other games which effectively ushered in “retro” gaming. The GBA allowed new gamers the opportunity to experience something that they may have missed out on (or not been alive for) the first time around. The GBA sported 2 different models: The original and a smaller, flip-top version with a MUCH brighter screen. There was also a ridiculously awesome attachment for the Gamecube called the Gameboy Advance Player that allowed GBA games to be played on a television through the GC itself.

Nintendo continued through to the Nintendo DS which introduced, in retrospect, a kind of useless second screen. It was a touch screen, so that was kind of cool, but other than being able to display stuff like maps and miscellaneous things like that, it was just a, “hey, that’s neat,” kind of thing. The important thing about the DS was the games for it. Phenomenal titles all around. Since the DS was significantly more powerful than the GBA, the system was capable of 3D graphics which lent themselves well to Square’s complete 3D remake of Final Fantasy IV. The only problem I had with the system was the amount of versions that were released over its lifespan. There were a total of 4 versions of the DS released over 6 years. The second version, the DSLite, was a smaller, lighter version of the handheld with brighter screens. The third, the DSi, was similar to the Lite, but dropped the GBA backwards compatibility in favor of features like a camera and several small applications. The fourth and final version, the DSi XL, was exactly the same as its previous version, only twice as large. I can understand maybe 2 versions of a system (upgrades and such), but 4?! Surely Nintendo could have cut out the middle 2 versions. What was the point in releasing the DSi and then a year and a half later releasing the DSi XL? Why not just wait for the larger, better one? But the DS, over its 6 years of existence, made a killing, so what do I know? I owned the original DS and the DSi, while Nic owned 3 of the 4 models.

It was at this time that Sony tried their hand at the handheld market, a market that Nintendo had completely dominated since the days of the original Gameboy. The result was the PlayStation Portable (PSP), a sleek black handheld that’s looks and interface definitely embodied Sony’s current gen system, the PlayStation 3. Was the PSP a good system? Did it topple Nintendo’s king-like reign in the handheld market? Kinda and no. Yes, the PSP was a good system, being nearly as powerful as the PS2, but no, it didn’t really effect Nintendo’s business at all and they still remain on the throne to this day. The whole UMD thing was kinda silly, as well.

So that brings us to the current generation. Right now, there are 3 consoles and 2 handhelds on the market: The Nintendo Wii and 3DS, Microsoft’s Xbox360 and Sony’s PlayStation 3 and Vita. I own them all except for the 3DS, so I’ll give my thoughts on ‘em.

The Wii and 3DS –Quite honestly, this is my least favorite of the consoles I own. And I don’t just mean from this generation. I have a total of 6 games for the system. Thing is, those 6 games are all that have interested me from what the system has to offer. I have my own thoughts on Nintendo’s business decisions as of late, but I won’t go into them in very much detail so as not to sound like a hater. I will state this here so that it will be on the record for all time: I do not hate Nintendo. I think Nintendo, over the most recent years, has made some extremely poor choices that could have been easily remedied, but I’m not their business manager, so I can’t complain too heavily. The Wii is, in my personal opinion, the worst business decision they have made thus far.

Let me explain: Releasing a system to cater to non-gamers is not the way to sell a console. Not when you’re up against more recent heavy hitters such as Microsoft and Sony. Well, let me rephrase that –It’s not the way to sell software for your console. Nintendo currently holds the top spot as far as systems sold in this console generation. This is a good statistic, but if you look at their software sales, they aren’t nearly as high as Sony or Microsoft’s. One needs to look no further than a top-selling game like Call Of Duty. Which console do you think had more software sales for, say, Modern Warfare 3, a game that was available on all 3 major consoles? It wasn’t Nintendo, I can tell you that.
Xbox360 –Microsoft did absolutely no wrong this console generation… Except for that whole “red-ring-o-death” thing. Seriously, why not fix that? It took until about a year or so ago when Microsoft released a remodeled version of the console to finally fix a problem that completely breaks the thing. As far as software goes, this was the place to get your fill when it came to new and exciting titles. While most games were released for the big 2, the Xbox version usually outperformed the technically more powerful PS3.

PS3 and Vita –
For me, the PS3 is smack dab in the middle of the console war. While it’s more powerful than its competition, it is, by in large, not a videogame console. It’s a “do-all.” A “home entertainment system,” if you will. The PS3 plays nearly any kind of disc known to man except for HD-DVD (an unfortunately dead format. I think it was better than Blu-Ray). All the way from Compact Disc to Blu-Ray, the thing would play it all, including being backwards compatible with the previous 2 Sony systems. I heard at one point several years ago that the system was extremely hard to program for, which made developers a little apprehensive about making games exclusively for it. The system did have a few things going for it, though: Like the Wii, it had free online as opposed to Microsoft’s payment plans (although you get what you pay for. If you don’t pay, you run the risk of that big Sony hacking fiasco last year). It had some decent exclusives (God of War, Heavy Rain, Metal Gear Solid 4), and most importantly to me: It kept the exact same controller since the Dual Shock was released back in 1997.

The controller has obviously always been important in videogames. Each new console has released with a new controller that usually ends up adding something to the next generation’s design. Every single console owes its controller’s design to the original NES because they’ve all grown from there. The SNES added 4 face buttons and shoulder buttons on the top, the N64 added an analogue stick, all of which have been incorporated into all console’s controllers over the years. Sony just happened to find a design that works perfectly for all games and stuck with it. Not to sound like I’m trying to beat a dead horse here, but the Wii’s controls are something I just don’t see ever becoming the norm. At least not for a looooooooooong while. I like to relax while I play games, not wave a stick around like an idiot.

The Vita, on the other hand, needs to step it up quite a bit. I own one, but I own it for one simple reason: Mortal Kombat. Currently, it is the only handheld that has MK and for someone that likes to keep his MK chops up, the Vita version is where it’s at. The Vita needs stronger titles and hopefully it will get them once bigger titles like the portable Assassin’s Creed III spin-off are made available.
So what about the future? 2013’s E3 should be the big reveal for both Microsoft’s “Xbox720” and Sony’s PlayStation 4. Nintendo’s Wii successor, the Wii-U, was revealed at last year’s E3, effectively winning the conference. The 3DS is out there doing pretty decently, although it had a fairly rocky start from what I understand. Very little is known about the Wii-U and even less is known about the other two consoles. Nintendo has a lot to make up for with 3 rd party support on their new system, but with games like Ninja Gaiden, Batman: Arkham City and Assassin’s Creed III, it looks as though they’re making a step in the right direction. Microsoft only needs to keep doing what they’ve been doing and Sony needs to actually create a game console rather than a home entertainment system. 2013 should be an interesting year to say the least.

I hope this 3 part article has been at least somewhat interesting to you. I know that it became more of a “history of videogames” than about my personal experiences, but maybe it was interesting nonetheless. Through the new website, I hope to be able to update you guys on the progress that the videogame world continues to make with both reviews and opinions which might shape where you want to go when it comes to your games.


THE END *Doubleback by ZZ-Top should probably play right about now*
Posted on June 26, 2012 .