Saturday, May 12, 2007

yet another valentine for my beloved pink handheld

D.D.T. pointed it out a little while back, but it bears re-repeating:
at heart, I'm a handheld gamer.

Sure, the absolute best games I've played tend to be home-console titles, but it's a rare month that the Dreamcast or Gamecube edges out my DS/GBA in terms of time invested. This perspective is not a mainstream one, but with the incredible sales of (Nintendo) handhelds, it's possible that the market is growing closer to my tastes...

Not too long ago, Tycho brought up an interesting couple points about the PS2. He noted first that the platform Simply--Will--Not--Die!! Por exemplo, God of War II is by all accounts a must-have, and it's not unlikely that there'll drop a couple-three more must-haves for the box.(1) And the damn' thing just keeps selling...more, in cases, than the actual current-generation consoles. A related claim he made was thatthe hobby--of games, dig--can't be seriously pursued without a PS2.(2) The platform is that ubiquitous, that important.

This fires me up to wonder a couple things about the PS2's handheld analog(3):

When does the last great game for the GBA come out?
Can you seriously pursue the hobby without one?

Treating these questions out of turn...probably not, no, was almost certainly Drill Dozer.(4) Or maybe that nifty, frustrating Scurge: Hive. Or those Summon Night games. And don't even get me started on the criminally under-appreciated bit generations games. Orbital and dotstream alone were two of the finest pure play experiences I had in 2006. I mean, a perfectly-honed racer with a strong Tron light-cycles feel? A highly conceptual platformer disguised as a puzzle game? Gorgeous techno-beepy soundtracks?(5) These were great games.

It's not clear to me that anything else great for the GBA is actually in the pipeline. --D.D.T. and I eagerly await this Metal Slug port-thingy, and who knows, maybe Sting's got another Riviera or Yggdra Union in 'em. But it certainly feels as though we're in retro(-spectational) mode with this platform.

Luckily, over the last month, the doughty Racketboy has started us off with a really kick-ass pair of retro-GBA posts.

First off he offers his standard sketch of a robust collection, built on the cheap. I end up with five of his thirteen core picks, and four of his thirteen picks from the more-expensive garden. (This indicates that he's got pretty excellent tastes.)(6) Hell, his post is worth a bunch of dollars for informing me that there's a Sega game called Pinball of the Dead. I LOVE handheld pinball games--anyway, I LOVE Metroid Prime Pinball--I love that era of Sega, and I fucking love zombies. Why did I not know about this goddamned game? Nets, bring unto me this item!!

Second, Racketboy has cranked out a hidden gems post for the ol' handheld that does. He odes and paeans on the intensely awesome Astro Boy, Drill Dozer, Iridion II, and Sigma Star Saga, and even on the problematic but attractive Yggdra Union. (All games I have significant time invested in.) And a bunch of others--Racing Gears, Car Battler Joe both sound compelling, maybe even a decent Sonic game. Just some terrific work by Racketboy these past couple months, on the GBA, and on the Dreamcast, is all I'm trying to point out. That, and that the GBA is the greatest console I've ever owned.


Anticipating another post, Atlus' Odin Sphere sounds delightful. Nichey, but delightful. And gorgeous.

Now, this crack counts as the first thing Tycho's ever written that I utterly disagreed with. I claim to understand what he's saying, and I comprehend that my Sony allergy indeed does lock me off from vast swathes of games. And yet I claim I pursue this hobby "seriously".

The GBA-plus-SP has sold about 120 million units since 21mar2001, whereas the PS2 has sold 115 mil since 4mar2k. So each has market penetration generally defined as "full-on", and each has been monumentally successful despite some technical shortcomings (etc.) in the marketplace. Apart from their sheer sales figures, they each dominated their generation.

I'm leaving out of consideration for the nonce the frequently wonderful ancient ports, particularly the 16-bit RPGs that so dominate my time on the platform: Tales of Phantasia, 5 of the first 6 Final Fantasy titles, the Final Fantasy Tactics revision.

Fuck. I have to pick up Boundish, the Pong-plus title, from that series...and at least one of the two puzzle games. Digidrive looks like it might feel like Chu Chu Rocket, and believe me when I tell you that nothing feels better than Chu Chu Rocket.

For the record:
I own:
Metroid Fusion (brilliant)
Tony Hawk's Underground (lame, gift, would sell it if it weren't worthless)
Gunstar Super Heroes (hard, waiting to get inspired to play it)
Fire Emblem: The Sacred Stones (as D.D.T. pointed out, the game that really hooked me into games again)
Drill Dozer (wonderful, underappreciated, another one D.D.T. picked up after I wouldn't shut up about it)
Advance Wars (of course--a Goodwill find for eight bucks!)
Astro Boy (perfect action on a cart)
Final Fantasy IV (54 saved hours, and it got me to buy six other Final Fantasy games...though I can't tell you I enjoyed it)
Castlevania Twofer (will somebody tell me why these games are popular? pretty, but BO-RING!)
An' from his list, I'm gonna pick up:
Virtua Tennis (perfect Dreamcast game, can't suck on the GBA)
Chu Chu Rocket (see above)
Metroid Zero Mission (because I must own everything that says "Metroid" on it

3 Comments + Unabashed Criticism:

Blogger d.d. tinzeroes said...

A visit to Fred Meyer today confirms the continuing presense of the PS2. W/o going into details, I'd like to add that I think Sony handled the transition from the PS1 to the PS2 about as perfectly as you could.

ESPECIALLY the discount 19.99 Greatest Hits PS1 games in that platform's final years (a process their repeating w/ the PS2). I was a latecomer to the PS1 so those 19.99 games really went a long way to getting Gaming back under my skin...

9:09 PM  
Blogger Can't Dance said...

Hey, I've added you to my FFIII friend roster and just thought I'd pimp my own code (2492-0806-6111). Feel free to add me...or not, but it would be nice!

6:48 AM  
Blogger Fat Contradiction said...

Yer added! I'll try to send a mogmail in a couple hours; for some reason my FFIII won't play nice w/ my house's wireless network. MP:Hunters works, tho'. Odd.


12:43 PM  

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