Curmudgeon Gamer
Curmudgeoning all games equally.
21 June 2006
Handheld games: excused for being short?
Buried at the end of GameSpot's review of Tomb Raider; Legend for the PSP is this tangential commentary on game length on consoles and handhelds:
Even if you haven't played the game [Tomb Raider: Legend] before, you can beat it in six hours, which is short for a console game (although it seems slightly more excusable on a handheld). (emphasis added)
How is being a handheld game in any way an excuse for being a shorter game?

Granted, most of my favorite handheld games are games that don't have a traditional narrative beginning and end like Tomb Raider: Legend. As I've said before, Hot Shots Golf: Open Tee is a brilliant game that I've come back to over and over again. Currently, I'm still steeped in pre-1980s pinball tables with Pinball Hall of Fame: The Gottlieb Collection. Then there was my whole love affair with Ridge Racer. And I've certainly spent plenty of time with Lumines, even if it's not the digital crack that some might have you believe. Aside from those, I definitely enjoyed Grand Theft Auto: Liberty City Stories a great deal (despite some flaws), and it does have a more traditional story mode. As a criminal sandbox, however, it doesn't lose all of its attraction just because the story ends.

The logical leap I don't get in the GameSpot review is that the length of the game itself is somehow mitigated by being on a handheld. How does my $40 feel any less blown because I played it on a PSP? Anyone?
--Matt Matthews at 23:50
Comment [ 6 ]

Comments on this post:

Let me just be the first to say ..


After my experiences with the camera in the ps2 version of legend, I think you'll miss that second analog stick more than you think.

The ps2 version is almost guaranteed to be cheaper, prettier and nicer to play.

Upon reading the review, they reaffirm my basic belief too.

Liberty city stories was built for the psp, tr: legend is yet another cut rate port of a ps2 game, where the ps2 game is once again far superior.

At least in the case of x-men legends 2 they added _significant_ amounts of new content to make the handheld version worth owning.

BTW: I recently picked up Zelda : Wind Waker, with Ocarina of Time, which is the first time I've played a zelda game since the original.

Parts of ocarina of time (the water temple for instance), remind me of tomb raider lots. Except I think that zelda is a far superior game to any tomb raiders i've yet played.

Have you played ocarina of time ?

By Anonymous adrian, at 22 June, 2006 11:01  

adrian: The camera and control precision concern me too. We'll see.

I have the Ocarnia of Time disc that came with my Wind Waker, but I've never cracked the cellophane. Someday, someday...

Did you play TR1 the whole way through? Just wondering which ones you've played.

By Blogger jvm, at 22 June, 2006 11:06  

Yeah, I don't get the length comment in the review either. It's not that handheld games should be shorter, it's that they should be enjoyable in smaller chunks, in a more sporadic fashion, because many people (myself included) play handheld games only while traveling or otherwise needing a "quick gaming fix".

Sleep mode works well for helping here, but it still means handheld games can't be as "epic" as some regular console titles are. Example: I'd hate to play my game-of-the-moment (Steambot Chronicles) on a handheld, mainly because it's got a lot of side quests and other things to juggle in your mind, that wouldn't translate well to my usual style of sporadic handheld gaming.

But this has nothing to do with the overall length of the game.

By Blogger Dan-o, at 22 June, 2006 18:02  

I would actually agree with the article. I am in college right now, and spend about 3 hours a day on the bus (1.5 each way). I spend my time pretty equally between watching recorded tv on my psp, and playing games on my ds/psp. So at the end of an average day, I will have played about 1.5 hours of games on psp/ds, and about 3 hours at home on a console.

After say two weeks of this, I will have played the portable game 21 hours (but 28 times), and the home console 30 hours but only 14 times.

The more often I boot up the game, regardless of how long I spend with it, the sooner I will get tired of it, or at least want to switch with something else.

My explanation has been somewhat cumbersome, but the point I am trying to make is this: because of the quick bursts of play in handheld gaming, if the title isn't extremely engrossing (castlevania ds, animal crossing or lumines, in my opinion), then it will actually seem like it is longer, because it is harder to stay immersed in the game when playing several over several small chunks as opposed to longer sessions.

By Anonymous Mike D, at 22 June, 2006 22:44  

I played TR 1 , 2 and legend. all the way through.

I played the first half of either 3, or chronicles (if they aren't the same thing)

And I recommend you crack the cellophane on that game =). It lives up to the hype.

By Anonymous adrian, at 23 June, 2006 08:56  

"At least in the case of x-men legends 2 they added _significant_ amounts of new content"

From what has been said by others, Sony requires developers add new content if they even want to release a PSP port.

That is why X-Men Legends 2 adds so much to the PSP version versus the multiple console versions, because they had to add it in order to get a PSP version approved.

That is why Viewtiful Joe Red Hot Rumble (a GC game) had several characters added for its PSP port.

By Anonymous Baines, at 28 June, 2006 04:34  

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