With the relatively slow opening sales of the 3DS, it felt like both Nintendo and Sony were pushing their handheld devices like never before. While most of Nintendo’s 3DS titles were more or less known quantities (you don’t have to be a genius to expect Mario Kart and your traditional Mario platform games would be present), they had one particularly potent ace up their sleeve in the form of Luigi’s Mansion 2. Meanwhile, Sony took the time to show off portable versions of popular console titles; the touchscreen commands in Uncharted looked like they worked well, and rubbing the back touchscreen to raise the landscape in ModNation Racers was an easy concept to grasp.
Of course, the biggest news that came out of the handheld sector was the $249-$299 pricing model for the PlayStation Vita. It’s obvious that Sony will be taking an initial monetary loss, but just might be what they need to finally compete head-to-head with Nintendo’s position as the dominant gaming handheld. But in reality, both Nintendo and Sony are fighting against a new foe. The smartphone has taken off around the world, and even though the games can’t quite match a similar fidelity found in a proper handheld device like the 3DS or Vita, they’re outselling these traditional devices by a wide margin. People are more willing to play a simpler, arcade-style game on their phones if it means they don’t have to carry an extra device around.
On one hand, it looks like Sony is fighting back on the traditional handheld front with a powerhouse device that matches the home console experience. On the other hand, you have PlayStation Suite, Sony’s new initiative to get their titles onto Android smartphones. With Nintendo struggling in the market they once dominated with an iron grip, the Suite seems like a smart direction to take; it wouldn’t be too surprising if this is the last generation of handheld devices that are primarily made for playing games.
Doom and gloom aside, Uncharted on the Vita practically blew my mind. I’ve never seen something like it on such a small device! I’m not sure if I would want to purchase one, but maybe that will change once I actually get my mitts on a Vita at some GameStop kiosk. After all, nothing beats a proper hands-on experience.
(Reposted from my personal blog at gildedgamepad.wordpress.com)