A slew of reviews for the PS Vita popped up in my Google Reader (Gizmodo, Kotaku, and Engadget), so I thought I’d throw my two cents on portable gaming onto the pile.

First and foremost, I don’t intend on purchasing a Vita. As much as I loved my PSP and my DS Lite, they’ve become superfluous in my everyday life — replaced by two things: an iPhone and an iPad.

It’s an interesting turn of events since I still consider myself a ‘gamer’ (in the sense that I like to keep up with the newest video games, technologies, and the general culture). But as life demands more of my attention, I find less and less time for actual gaming. However, when I do find that elusive nugget of spare time, I want to play something substantial and not just flick birds into walls. While not yet amazing, the iOS gaming library is starting produce more gems and less birds.

For the record, while lauded, I don’t really consider Infinity Blade to be a gem other than the fact that it’s shiny. In my opinion, a good game needs a strong narrative to propel the game — a sense of purpose for the player. Two examples of iOS gems are Sword and Sworcery and Machinarium (ignoring the fact that Machinarium crashed a lot for me).

While the software will improve over time, the other facet to portable gaming is the design mantra of the hardware itself. The mantra that Nintendo and Sony are espousing is to create a device that plays games well, but can also connect to the internet or take pictures, etc etc. My problem with this logic is that it never does everything else very well. Sure I could use my PSP to play music or video; but using it as a media player was clunky, I couldn’t scrobble to Last.fm, and, due to limited memory card capacity, I couldn’t hold my entire library. The worst offender for both PSP and DS was the web browser: incredibly slow to the point of uselessness. I’d much rather have an iPhone and iPad that does almost everything well — but can also game.

Maybe one day smartphone gaming will be seen as more than just a way to waste time while standing in the supermarket line. In the meantime, I’ll keep supporting developers who create more than just the next Angry Birds.

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