This has been a very good E3 for portable gamers. While Nintendo and Sony are doing their best to direct your attention elsewhere, the quality of this year’s remaining releases blows my head off…to the moon.
I am an excitable person though. I suppose any announcement other than “We are withdrawing from the handheld market” makes for a great one. But I do think there remains something special about E3’s showings that displays just how important handheld gaming remains to us.
Us is the most important part of that statement. In watching Sony’s conference, I was disappointed by the baby chick-sized bone thrown to us. I’m still confused as to if it really was for Vita owners, as the majority of their Vita talk was dedicated to PlayStation TV. How a device that plays some of the Vita’s library is being positioned as the portable’s next big thing surprises me (just as it did as its reveal). It’s not called a Vita, play Vita games (but not all), requires a PS3 controller and it’s own memory, and this thing is being released to the public?
Thankfully, while Sony seems content with their mild efforts, others are picking up the slack. Senran Kagura Shinovi Versus and Akiba’s Trip are two highlights of mine, both hailing from XSeed, a publisher that peaks into my dream journal when I’m not around. Persona 4: Dancing All Night is a terrific reminder that genres that don’t have a place in the console market can thrive on handhelds. Final Fantasy Type-0 had me dancing on the ceiling for the brief period it was a thing (PS4 will have to do). I haven’t seen anything myself, but seeing as how they were announced just this April, I hope to see some impressions of Freedom Wars and Oreshika: Tainted Bloodlines. These last two hail from Sony, yes, but I still believe they could be doing more to convince me that they give a damn about their handheld.
In moving over to Nintendo, their Digital Event did little to promote the 3DS. Pokémon was there, but of course Pokémon was there. I’m not blind to the fact that a portion was devoted to Super Smash Bros., nor that this isn’t a big deal, but even in accepting that Nintendo still managed to show more of the Wii U version. However, at least I can better understand why Nintendo did this. The Wii U, like the Vita, isn’t doing so hot, so they (unlike Sony) chose to highlight it. Alone that’s not much of a compelling argument, but coupled with the bonanza of great reveals after the Digital Event, I’m more than happy with Nintendo’s efforts.
Fantasy Life, developed by Level-5 and (the studio once known as) Brownie Brown, was a shock, as I had it filed under “Forget About It” alongside other Level-5 works. I can now convince myself that Nintendo just wanted to get its own life simulations (Animal Crossing and Tomodachi Life) out of the way first. Professor Layton VS Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney is confirmed for August 29 of THIS YEAR, which floors me as 2014 seemingly no longer exists to many publishers. It’s great knowing that Nintendo continues to fatten their release schedule with the works of others, as opposed to watching these publishers stand by and do nothing.
Turning the world upside down is the appearance of TWO PSP games, Brandish: The Dark Revenant, and End of Serenity. Published by XSeed and Natsume respectively, these two games come hot on the heels of Sony’s discontinuation of the PSP in Japan. It may be dead, but not forgotten. Brandish grabs me in particular, as it hails from Falcom, developers of the Ys games. Buying digitally is still weird to me, but I can deal.
While the bountiful E3s of the DS generation are behind us, the quality is still around. I may not be drowning in must buy software, there’s more than enough to keep me happy, and enough variety to make each release feel special.