Handheld Gaming @ E3 2014

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.

What am I fighting for

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?
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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.
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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.

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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.

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5 thoughts on “Handheld Gaming @ E3 2014

  1. Tyler,

    Great post!

    The Vita has become my go to gaming device since last fall. It really saddened me how little attention Sony gave to it at the E3 conference. “We have Tales of Hearts R, something else, and something else. Ok, now onto another thing that’s vaguely Vita-ish”. The whole platform seems relegated to being a slave device to the PS4 rather than its own thing.

    It HAS become a good platform for niche Japanese titles and a wonderful place to enjoy beloved indie titles. In fact, PC is my other main platform of choice, but I’ve been waiting for Rogue Legacy to come to Vita as portable gaming is so perfect for grindy games. I don’t even want to play JRPGs on a console these days. Instant resume is glorious.

    But Sony just doesn’t even play up this angle. It’s like they don’t WANT to sell Vitas in the West.. The five minutes they spent having Brian Michael Bendis come out and talk about a TV show, one that is so early in production they could only show one crappy piece of concept art, could have been spent showcasing some upcoming Vita titles like Freedom Wars as you mentioned. It’s possible that since there aren’t any gameplay trailers in english that might have been a concern, but they could have really tried to go for the Monster Hunter crowd and sell it. They just don’t sell it.

    Maybe they figure it’s a lost cause. But my brother, who hasn’t owned a handheld since the original gameboy, bought a Vita and freaking loves it.

    I enjoy your blog!

    -Jonathan

  2. Pingback: stickitinyourpocket | #NoVitaNoBuy

  3. I was a bit disappointed of the lack of attention paid to the 3ds. We’ve kind of got a sneaky good lineup for the last few months of 2014 (with one or two cool looking games a month) but you wouldn’t know it from Nintendo’s E3 presence.

    I think that a bit of a peak into 2015 would have assuaged a lot of disappointment. We know about monster hunter and steam and that’s it. They have to have more planned and I bet they do. Maybe we’ll get a direct in the next few months…

    The majority of focus was on Wii u for obvious reasons. It’s strange how a 45 minute video can shift my fears from Wii u to 3ds so easily.

    • Ahaha, good point! 2013 was a beast, but it definitely feels like Nintendo is slowing down a bit. Which is always scary (see: the last couple years of the Wii), but especially so now because of the clear lack of third party support. It’s there, but not like it was on the DS.

      • it’s definitely been a 3 or 4 publisher show on the 3DS for a bit now: Nintendo, Atlus, Level 5 and (occasionally) SquareEnix. thankfully i like the game they all put out most of the time.

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