When I first brought home my brand-spankin’ new iPhone, my friend Jess came up with her own version of the now-customary “must have” list of apps and games that every techie magazine seems to have today. Among her list was some cheap vampire slaying survival demonstration in which you face a never ending onslaught of undead. That’s it. Sure you can retrieve weapon upgrades and the hoards of creatures change in color and difficulty, but that’s all it had to offer. Yet somehow, without my first knowing, it’s still a cheap thrill even after all these months. For a couch-diving price of two measly dollars, I still throw that little game on while in the waiting to pick up the younger sibling, or distracting myself from the mounds of applications I continue to fill out in complete vain.
Notice that, up to this point, I never said this game was good. Fun, yes, but certainly not good.
Fils-Aime gave the Washington Post an opinion the other day that his competitors (and even Nintendo) may not fully understand yet. As each of these portable gadgets have evolved, so too have their finite purposes. In certain situations, the best use of each may not even be video games at all. In order to stand apart from the others, Apple, Nintendo and Sony have all achieved success in a realm that isn’t quite mutually exclusive, and yet I feel none of them are putting enough due emphasis on the multi-functional abilities of each portable device. On the graph of amount of fun vs. level of functionality, the DS seems to land somewhere near distorting your friends Facebook picture and reposting it (high fun, low function), while the PSP can let me watch The 5th Element while en-route to Paris (low fun, high functionality if you don’t want to cry tears of blood from watching the Wolverine movie again).
But that isn’t to say I don’t have a use for all three. I have, and will continue, to play games on all three portables because they all provide an experience different from the rest. When I’m looking to kill five or ten minutes of my day and I have already looked through the daily updates on Fuck-My-Life and TFLN, let’s kill some vampires; If I want to explore the left field a little more, I throw on Scribblenauts or Professor Layton; If it’s a huge sword or killing hookers kind of day, GTA Ballad of Gay Tony here I come. And ultimately, when games fail to inspire me, there will always be that certain second failsafe feature to ensure I don’t jump ship and switch portables. After all, iPods were first made to play music, PSPs can surf the web, and the DS could let you send hand-drawn pictures of genitals to your friends—What more could I ask for?
See you in the next level,