Opinion – Sleep Mode Is Portable Gaming’s Greatest Feature

by Mike Futter on Jan 13, 2014 at 01:55 PM

On Saturday, I completed my first game of 2014. While it took me the better part of a week, I never turned off the console. I never exited the game or returned to the main menu. From start to finish, The Legend of Zelda: A Link Between Worlds was running on my 3DS XL.

Sleep mode continues to be my favorite feature of portable gaming. Sure, I love street passes on the 3DS and remote play on my Vita, but those pale in comparison to being able to suspend my game and resume seconds, minutes, or hours later. In fact, the only times I turn off my 3DS and Vita entirely is when I'm flying on an aircraft that hasn't yet received gate-to-gate electronic device clearance.

The familiar snap of my 3DS closing or click of the Vita’s lock button sounds whenever the phone rings, I decide to respond to a tweet, and when I go to bed for the night. Each time, I know that whatever game I’m playing is right there waiting for me with no delay, making it the perfect choice even when I have just a few minutes.

Many make the case that mobile devices are supplanting portables because of convenience. While I certainly have my phone closer at hand more often, when I’m in the midst of an experience like A Link Between Worlds or Tearaway, my handheld comes with me wherever I go. 

When I’m waiting in line at the bank, taking out my 3DS is just as easy as pulling out my phone. When I’m sitting on the couch during a television commercial, unlocking my Vita takes only a moment before I’m back to whichever title I’m currently engrossed in. When I’m sitting in a traffic jam… just kidding.

Thanks to sleep mode, portable gaming is perfect for situations when I don't know how long I'll be able to play, even when I'm at home. As someone with less time to play games than I'd like, I value the ability to get in and out of a game quickly. I can't always carve out an uninterrupted block of time for long gaming sessions, but the 3DS and the Vita ensure that I can get my game time in, even if only a couple of minutes at a time.

Portable gaming won't replace living room consoles for me; I like my big screen television too much. However, as long as sleep mode exists and the quality titles keep coming, there will always be room in my life for on-the-go, dedicated gaming devices.