Well the lad just graduated from kindergarten so he deserved something for that. Though I have to admit, I don’t remember my graduating from Kindergarten as anything momentous, though if I had gotten a Nintendo DS Lite maybe I would have. Unfortuantely the technology just wasn’t there yet.
Fast forward 26 years (ouch) and you have this marvelous gadget which I just had to have…. for my son. I’ll let him have a few words edgewise.
Bobby: It has a pen… but you can just use the buttons. Mom told me she played an old style game like this when she was little (Super Mario Brothers) and this is the new style. It’s really fun. I want to get more games. Driving ones.
So there you have it. An in depth review. He’s brilliant for six. So here’s what I think.
As I learned from pre-ordering and buying the Sony PSP (which has since added full support for Flash 6, though no Flash Lite), great graphics does not equal great game play. I was initially impressed at with the PSP, only to find myself not interested in the games I bought in no time flat. Since I’m older now and have less time and patience for these things since I’m catering to my family, a game has to be really gripping to use those precious moments up with it. Not only that, as a former video engineer who’s job was to scrutinize picture quality down to every pixel, I found the display to be lacking as far as refresh rates, never mind the dead pixels I found, brand new, right out of the box on the initial 3 units I bought and returned. While never an old school Nintendo fanboy (I was a little too old, enamoured by the Intellivision/Vectrex/Colecovision era) I have to admit, the DS Lite is so intelligently designed and the user experience is so pleasant that I am simply awestruck with the little thing. Even my son, while beyond his years in these things (yes, he’s even architechted and designed some basic flash apps with me), was able to pull it out of the box and go with no help. If that doesn’t point to intelligent design in terms of both usability and accessability, I don’t know what does.
I was a big fan of Sony for a while and I trusted their products. Alas, my 4 year-old Sony Wega TV has a distinct and annoying high pitched whine now from time to time and I have thrown away two Sony DVD players in five years which have both abruptly and simply died. Though with far less usage, my Apex DVD player I bought in 1998 still works. Hmmm.
So now I am rooting for the underdog, especially with the PS3 and the Wii coming out almost simultaneously. I would urge to any gamer, to revisit the basic fundamentals of what you really love about video games. Sony came in late to the console market, and dominated. But I think Sony’s success has happened in the general terms of their monolithic presence in the consumer electronics industry, not unlike IBM in computers. If they can’t outspend you, bully you, and or steal your principal engineers, they just buy you. That worked ten years ago. The landscape has changed and items such as experience and presence are more important now than the old caveats; features and functionality. While all four features are connected, some are more essential in terms of what define “a genuinely good game”. In the meantime, I’ll be pleading with my son “When is it my turn?”