Saturday, July 25, 2009

Handheld Love

The majority of my gaming time these days is dedicated to the consoles. It doesn't matter if it's the current generation or an older one such as the Nintendo 64, if I am playing a game then it will usually be on a TV with a controller in hand. In the past I've dabbled with PC gaming but as I don't have a decent PC of my own, I seldom get the chance to think about the range of games available for the platform. That's disappointing but something I have grown to accept over the years. When I was younger, I also used a few handhelds for my gaming with the Pokemon franchise in particular receiving a lot of play time. This declined as I grew up, eventually leading to a serious neglect of my first Nintendo DS.

When I purchased it I got five games: Mario Kart DS, Animal Crossing: Wild World, Nintendogs, Metroid Prime: Hunters and Tetris DS. I played all of them often with Animal Crossing being a daily ritual for almost eight months.

Then, suddenly, I just stopped. I had no interest in playing the DS and ignored any new releases in favour of being able to afford the games I wanted on the consoles. As I had nothing new to play, I also lost interest in handheld gaming as a whole.

A couple of years later, Grand Theft Auto: Chinatown Wars appeared in one of Nintendo's E3 conferences. Being a massive GTA fan, I just knew I had to check it out, especially as I couldn't imagine what a Grand Theft Auto title would look like on a handheld platform. Once the game was released I gave in to temptation and purchased a second DS (the other one broke courtesy of my little sister) and a copy of the game.

At first, my disinterest in handheld gaming dictated my approach to the new game. Instead of giving it the time of day, I'd play it briefly before feeling compelled to stop and fire up the PS3 or Xbox 360 instead. Without even realising it, my attitude towards handheld gaming became negative and I, for whatever reason, viewed spending time on the consoles as a superior option. The more I played Chinatown Wars however, the more this began to change. It managed to suck me in and as a result, it reinvigorated my love of handheld gaming. This happened a couple of months ago and you can see what I think of the game here.

Lately another handheld game has been on my mind, one completely different to the action found in Liberty City and one that I absolutely adore. That game? Professor Layton And The Curious Village. I purchased it on a recommendation from a friend and I've been unable to put it down ever since I began playing. It's a great pick up and play title (puzzles) yet it can also hold my interest over longer periods of time (the story). The characters are interesting, the puzzles challenging and I also love the music and gorgeous visuals. So far I can't fault the game and I fully recommend it to anyone who owns a DS and wants a unique experience. I'll have a more in-depth post on Professor Layton in the near future, but for now I just wanted to take the time to say that my desire to play handheld games has returned and I'm loving every minute of it.

On a side note, once Professor Layton is finished I will be playing Zelda: Phantom Hourglass. Beyond that I don't have any other games to play so if you have a recommendation then please, by all means, let me know via the comments. It's about time I flesh out my library.


Joseph Rositano said...

You remind me of my GameBoy Advance. I loved that system, but I never really purchased too many games for it. At the time, I was just a kid surviving on $10 a week plus a little extra whenever it would come my way. So, with GBA games costing $70 full price, I would usually favour buying something from the PS2 or GCN library. In the end, I think I only ended up buying six or seven games for it, and I owned it since launch.

For a brief period I was the same with my Nintendo DS. I had a few games for it, but there wasn't too much I was interested after its initial launch. It was in 2007 when I really started purchasing games for it. All these fantastic titles were being released one after the other, and having a more stable income at the time, I just couldn't help but have a taste of everything the handheld had to offer. That continued well into 2008.

I think a lot of it had to do with the fact there wasn't many games being released on the Wii or PS2 that caught my eye, and at the time I didn't have any other console. Of course, and I know I keep referring to it, when I bought my 360 I've sort of shifted my focus towards that system now. The Xbox 360 has given me these massive open-ended worlds to explore, and it has been a step up to what I’m used to on other systems. That said, I am certainly looking forward to several DS games in the future. At the top of my head I can think of Mario and Luigi 3, Zelda: Spirit Tracks and the Pok√©mon Gold/Silver remakes. Also, recently I found new love for the handheld through Rhythm Heaven. Man I love that game. “Peck you beck, PECK PECK PECK!” :P

I’ve also been meaning to check out Professor Layton for a while, as well as Cooking Guide and Tetris DS. I think its time to go on another shopping spree soon!

Steven O'Dell said...

Joseph: I love how you remind me of my list of games that I still need to buy, whether it was intention or not. Nice work there. ;)

I share a similar experience with the GBA. I only owned about 8 games for it so you could argue that it was neglected as well, though then again maybe not as the games I do own for it were played significantly. In fact, as great as Mario Kart DS is, I think I prefer Mario Kart: Super Circuit more. How's that for weird?

I'll lend you Tetris DS by the way, if you want it. If you do then you can lend me Rhythm Heaven in return.