Not All Games Are Made Equal

Mobile games came to be during the '70s and '80s with devices like Game & Watches, but they didn't become crucial to the industry and consumers until Nintendo released the Gameboy in 1989.  Because of this revolutionary device, people were finally able to play games anywhere, games that actually (somewhat) resembled the games on home consoles.  This success marked the beginning of a long history of game developers striving to create the best on-the-go gaming experiences.

Nowadays, mobile games have almost become the dominant form of gaming for most people.  Once smart phones became available, people everywhere had instant access to entertaining games at affordable prices.  Now nearly everyone you'll meet will have probably played some sort of portable game.  The only problem is that they most likey have only played games for their phones.  They would not be aware of the fundamental differences between portable and console games, and how portable game are not a true replacement for their console brethren.  Games can suffer from being played on the wrong device.  The reason for this is simple: it's all about the screen size.

No matter what, games need to be in a sense "Locally grown."  They must begin as an idea for a certain platform, and grow and develop with that particular platform's specifications in mind.  Aside from a few exact ports, games are meant to be played on one device.  This is were the differences between handhelds and console systems become important.

Rayman: Origins is a prime example of a game best meant to be played on one specific device.  The handheld version is essentially a direct port of the console version.  While this is nice for ability to play this game on multiple platforms, you cannot ignore the fact that the handheld version is less enjoyable due to the differences in visuals.

When I first played Rayman: Origins, I noticed how everything in the game was shrunk down in order to make it fit on the smaller screen.  This led to multiple occasions  of me not being able to see details, and at some points not even being able see the action or the character I was controlling.  The game's playability was negatively affected soley for the sake of having a portable version of the game.

If you are already saying to yourself, "But visuals aren't the only reasons a game is good," you are right.  So here's my examples of games whose playability and entertainment factors were hampered because of the systems they were released on.

Handheld games need to focus on either form or function, and can rarely showcase both.  A game developer may have an ambitious project in mind, but can run into problems if they try to force the project to work on a platform not suited for it.

My evidence for this the game Kid Icarus: Uprising for the Nintendo 3DS.  It is without question an outstanding game, but it would have been better received if it had been released on a console instead of a handheld.  Its most notable flaws stem from the amount of controls and commands in the game outnumbering the amount of inputs available on the 3DS.  It was actually suggested by Nintendo to purchase an accessory for the 3DS which adds an additional circle pad to the device, in order to make playing the game easier.  Kid Icarus is also at time painful to play.  Not just in the sense of difficulty, but due to the actual physical toll the game puts on you.  This was the reason Nintendo felt it was necessary to include a stand with the game that would hold the device for you while you played, to alleviate the discomfort.

A game being better suited for play on a home console is an important fact to consider, but so is the reverse.  Some games were just made to be played on the small screen.

Edge is one such game better meant for portables. Initially released for iOS devices, Edge is a platformer inspired by the classic era of gaming, and revolves around simple premise of controlling a block and moving it from the starting point of a level to end gole.

My first experience with this game was on my Nintendo Wii U console.  I enjoyed the game, but every time I played it. I could not help but wish I was playing it on my 3DS instead of my Wii U(I don't own a smartphone or any iOS device, so playing Edge on the Wii U was my only option).

I had issues enjoying Edge on my console because of how simple the game was.  While I'm not one of those people who only care about graphics, I still prefer to play my more visually-impressive games on TV, and enjoy my more simple, gameplay-driven games on my handhelds.  Eventually Edge did make its way to 3DS eShop, much to my delight, and I was able to enjoy it as the simplistic and endearing portable game it was meant to be.

Games are meant to be enjoyed in multiple ways, and for multiple reasons.  And while I do admit everything I have stated and every example given is not the ultimate say on the matter, I still believe there is a fundamental difference between games made for handhelds and home consoles, and that these differences need to be understood and observed whenever anyone plays or develops any piece of software.


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