The lights are on
It’s not hard to get excited by Project Shield’s feature set, but I have to wonder who the system will be marketed towards.
If you’re not familiar with Nvidia’s Project Shield, it’s an Android-driven mobile device that comes attached to a controller. Nvidia hopes it will help boost Android’s gaming potential and reach new markets, or at least help offer a platform for game makers to deliver better products.
On paper the device sounds great. The controller is comfortable and looks a lot like an Xbox 360 controller, except that it also features a 5-inch, 720p touchscreen, which folds down over the controller itself. The system runs stock Android, so that – and the fact that it houses a Tegra 4 processor, a step above Ouya's Tegra 3 core – means it will be able to run just about any Android game out there. The controller is definitely more comfortable than the Game Stick – another Android device I recently got hands on with. During my time with the system, I played Max Payne, The Conduit, and International Boxing Champions, and all three games ran smoothly and looked great.
The system also allows you to stream games from another device, such as your PC, as long as both systems are on the same WiFi network, so you can finally play PC games in your bed, which might be one of the most exciting features of the whole system.
All told, Project Shield could be an interesting alternative to systems like the 3DS and PS Vita. Its wide variety of cheap and increasingly creative Android games means you’ll never run out of things to do. On the other hand, if you already have an Android phone, is it really worth buying another Android device that doesn’t make calls just for the attached controller? (Especially considering how cheap many mobile controllers are these days.)
That’s the biggest problem with the Project Shield: I’m not sure it’s necessary. If priced right it might be a cool portable Android gaming option, but it probably targets a fairly select group of gamers. Those are questions that we’ll just have to wait to answer, because to date, Nvidia hasn’t announce any further details about the system’s release.
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