My Handheld Hiatus - Craigaleg Blog - www.GameInformer.com
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My Handheld Hiatus

A car ride, long wait time at the doctor's office, or lazy afternoon when the television was preoccupied used to mean time with the latest handheld console. I was a kid with a Gameboy readily at hand. Pokemon battles ensued on the bus ride home from school, Link's Awakening would be played for the fourth time in a row as I traveled to visit relatives, and Castlevania made long Sundays more bearable. I was a mobile machine, picking up every major release that accompanied the Nintendo DS.

Then one day...it stopped.

Friends grew up, straying from handhelds to consoles, and even then barely touching them. Car rides evolved from the role of passenger to driver, and relaxing time with music overtook the necessity to complete a dungeon. Even long waits at the doctor became routine visits to the latest app for a quick time wasting puzzle breaker. As quickly as my infatuations with gaming on the go hit, they seemed to subsequently fade and eventually I gave my Nintendo DS away to a relative.

Beyonce could not even sway me...

I would be lying if I did not admit that part of the reason I dropped gaming on the go was the social stigma of pulling out a Nintendo handheld in public now that I am technically an "adult". This was worsened by an interview last year with Playstation CEO Jack Tretton who quoted:

"Our view of the 'Game Boy experience' is that it's a great babysitting tool, something young kids do on airplanes, but no self-respecting twenty-something is going to be sitting on an airplane with one of those."

While I do not agree with the notion and the quote is an obvious attack from Sony on Nintendo's handheld, it further emphasizes that the "social norm" is that handhelds are for kids. That argument was put to rest when I witnessed the multitude of adults freely playing at the Zelda symphony and read numerous accounts of people in my age range that still openly play at the theatre or airport. But while tapping my screen furiously with a stylus or tilting a device every which way, I could not help but feel a little self-conscious.

I was weened off the handheld necessity by the emergence of the App store. Simple, cheap, enjoyable titles to occupy the small window of time that needed to be wasted. Some of these have even expanded to become full fledged hack and slash or RPG titles using the simple touch functionality. It was a vast market that constantly added new entries on a daily basis. The biggest benefit of it all was having one machine, and the extra pocket space was a nice commodity.

Another round of Angry Birds or epic adventure?...hmm..

Recently I have come to the realization that despite the apps providing some entertainment...they are just a shadow of the experiences I used to have with a dedicated gaming device. Full-blown adventures with Link in numerous dungeons that culminated with a thrilling boss fight, responsive controls that never misread or failed to work properly, and legitimate stories evolving past the typical save the princess expectancy. Hand me an app and I am entertained for a few minutes, but hand me a PS Vita and I could sit and play for hours.

With E3 2012 showcasing some intriguing additions to the existing library, I found my interest in returning to handheld gaming reinvigorated. After trying out the Vita at a recent display and looking at the slew of Nintendo 3DS titles already on the market, I wanted to get back into what made gaming on the go enjoyable.

The biggest issue holding me back at this point is cost. The Nintendo DS ran $250 at launch and that was pushing it for me back then. Now with a Nintendo 3DS at $200 and a PS Vita at $250, it begins the "or I could buy" phase of purchasing. Shelling out that much money when there are so many other items on my backlog makes me a little hesitant.

I still feel a bit undecided. Here I sit, staring at an order screen from Amazon every now and then, pondering if I would regret such a purchase. Would the cycle repeat of setting aside a Nintendo 3DS in favor of a less demanding task?  Would cost outweigh interest? Is the Vita naturally tastier than the 3DS? I at least sit in the satisfaction that the consoles I have still see plenty of use, and I am sure they taste just fine. I just wonder how things would work if I introduced a little handheld flavor in the mix...

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