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Thursday, July 28, 2011

Q1 2011 gaming report – Nintendo DS, 3DS and PSP

A look back at DS, 3DS and PSP for the months of April, May and June 2011

A true crossroads in the handheld space; Q2 2011 is seeing a big shift as the usually solid lineup presented on DS shifts to 3DS while the PSP is rocked by one sweet E3 announcement leading to even slower (?) game development on the platform. Yes, handheld gaming is in flux as two systems begin their swan song and the third is just getting ramped up. How did handheld gamers fare in these three months, let’s take a look.

Nintendo DS – Sound the death bell, the DS will fade folks as developers look to take advantage of the 3DS. The death will be seen in quality titles, not volume, but this has been the case for a long time on the DS as the great entries are few and far between. 
  • Yu-Gi-Oh! 5D's World Championship 2011: Over the Nexus – The formula remains the same and having an annual tournament dependant on this title helps. Yu-Gi-Oh! may not get the fanfare of Pokémon but dang it’s fun and addictive and not going anywhere. 
  • Emily The Strange – Comic fans will know this strange broad and her puzzle adventure looks and plays great, very true to the source material. Under the radar, no doubt, but original and fun.
Nintendo 3DS – First quarter just saw the release of the 3DS so this is the first round of true launch titles and it’s really not a bad offering as many show off what the system can do while offering good if not great gameplay experiences. Price of the system is still an issue but finally getting the store and browser up and running help. 
  • Resident Evil: The Mercenaries 3D – An expansion of a mini-game experience that fans will love but casual gamers, not so much. For true RE fans. 
  • Dead or Alive: Dimensions – As Street Fighter delivered the goods so does Dead or Alive with an excellent fighting game entry on the 3DS. 
  • Dual Pen Sports – Not every game works great but ones, like archery, are addictive experiences that will bring gamers back to the simplicity games on Wii created. It’s a great use of both screens, 3D features and multiple stylus. 
  • The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time 3D – A remake that warrants buying the 3DS all by itself. Don’t know about Ocarina of Time? Shame, shame on you!
PlayStation Portable (PSP) – New system on the way but same lack of support. Love the PSP but it just never gets the love this little powerhouse should have. Graphically updated ports of PS and PS2 titles would have been a great gameplay .. oh well. 
  • BlazBlue: Continuum Shift II – Awesome fighting game with tons of unique, perfect-for-anime characters. Portable gaming is all about fighting games folks (and RPG’s). 
  • Patapon 3 – Best franchise on PSP continues to beat to its own drum 
  • Final Fantasy IV: The Complete Collection – Another re-release, remake, but one that works yet again and brings together all the various IV pieces, good times.
Overall, 3DS gets an A thanks to Zelda moving up the grading curve while PSP and DS get C and D respectively. Just not enough on the DS to warrant a passing grade while PSP just does what it does with remakes and sequels. Second quarter of 2011 was a difficult one for handhelds but with 3DS on board and new PSP on the way things will get better … right?

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