I often feel like I'm the only person in the world not caught up in the iOS hype hurricane. I think Apple's devices are fantastic pieces of kit, but as gaming systems they don't come anywhere near meeting the kind of expectations I hold. The games media wants me to think differently — it wants me to believe that micro experiences such as Angry Birds and Cut The Rope are the future of handheld gaming, and in some regards I understand. I enjoy a five minute blast on Cut The Rope as much as everyone else, but when it comes to an hour long train journey, the game just doesn't hold my attention. I'm yet to find anything on the iOS platform that does. There's a possibility I haven't been looking hard enough, but I think the problem lies deeper than that.
It's impossible to talk about Sony or Nintendo's latest handhelds without drawing reference to the iOS. The first sentence of this article and I've already fallen into the trap. That's because the handheld gaming landscape has genuinely changed, and I'll be the first to appreciate that. Bite-sized content clearly is part of the future handheld gaming make-up, but I don't think it consumes the traditional model. One of my favourite games to play on the go is Final Fantasy VII, Square's gigantic RPG epic that originally launched on the PlayStation. Gaming doesn't get much more hardcore than Final Fantasy VII, and although it wasn't originally intended as a portable game, it goes some lengths to elaborate my point: I want console experiences on my portable.
Sony's latest venture into the handheld market, codenamed NGP (or Next Generation Portable), looks destined to give me the type of content I want: console-like experiences on the move. There's concern that people don't really want console games on a handheld, but it all depends on the way in which content is handled. Metal Gear Solid: Peace Walker is a prime example of a console game feeling cut down and digestible on a portable. All it takes is a little awareness. With the NGP's improved control mechanics, playing console games on the move will no longer feel quite so awkward. The dual analogue sticks will provide comfortable solutions for game types that required work-arounds on the PSP. In short, console experiences will feel more comfortable on the NGP.
That's not to say Sony shouldn't ignore the bite-sized gaming experiences that have made the iOS line of devices such a success in the gaming space. The PlayStation Portable already embraced the idea of micro-games with the PlayStation minis. PlayStation Suite looks to extend on that, with Sony promising new titles for both the Android smart phone platforms and the NGP. I wouldn't be surprised if we didn't see cheap versions of LocoRoco and Patapon made available on the service.
The NGP sounds like it was custom designed for my needs. Like everyone else I want to enjoy short, mini-games in between tasks, but I also enjoy console experiences, and if I can get them on the move and in bed then I'm totally on board. It's disappointing Sony didn't show off some more of the NGP's content, but I assume announcements will follow at GDC and E3. For now, I'm absolutely on board with the NGP and I'm hotly anticipating trailers and footage of some of the announced games. Did somebody say Wipeout? Sold.