Remakes and ports on handhelds

Akshat Jiwan Sharma, Fri Mar 29 2013

I am probably in minority but I rather like playing ports of old games on handhelds.If it is a complete remake even better.In fact I prefer playing old games on handhelds to playing it on a home console. Even though I enjoy a fresh title as much as any other guy, I will be pretty happy if I get a remake of a game I played years ago.

My fascination for ports on handelds started when I first played Super mario on my friends’ GBA.I absolutely loved it. All the excitement of playing the game as a child came rushing back to me. I followed it with other remakes.Metroid , Legend of zelda,Mega man and many more.I discovered my favorite final fantasy game in a port(final fantasy 5 in case you are interested). I learned later that final fantasy 5 was never localized in the west. It was through GBA that many gamers like myself first got to play it.

Later on I payed many original titles on the system.But it were the familiar games, the ones that I had already played and loved that introduced me to the handheld gaming. DS’s full support for backward compatibility was a dream come true. I had spent years amassing my favorite GBA games and the fact that I could play it on DS was a sweet bonus.

With the PSP the trend continued.The system was powerful enough that it could handle the games from both of sony’s previous generation of home consoles. The list of remakes was just crazy

  • Valkyrie profile
  • Tales series
  • Monster hunter games
  • The warriors
  • Castlevania (which is in my opinion one of the best remakes ever)
  • Ghosts and ghouls and many more.

I never played many of these games before.One of my most prized discoveries in the PSP port library was monster hunter.

Not everyone appreciates remakes though. PSP throughout it’s life was often criticized for the amount of ports it had. But for someone like me this was nostalgia heaven. I fell in love with these games all over again. Many of the remakes were actually more comfortable to play on the handheld. Take Disgaea, a game which involves countless hours of grinding (which is very enjoyable, though repetitive) to complete. Playing it in the palm of your hands in small sessions was very engaging. Every small increase in the stat of your character gave an incredible sense of accomplishment. Ditto for Final Fantasy Tactics.

One of the things that I like about handhelds is the convenience they offer. It is hard go back once you have had a taste of them. I am not talking about taking the game you love with you on a bus ride. I rarely play video games outside. I am talking about playing it on my bed, or on my sofa or on my terrace during winters.The sleep feature (that both DS and PSP had) was incredible.Who needed frequent save points now?

As good as the last generation of handhelds were, they were limited by their design. There were no analog sticks on Nintendo’s consoles while PSP had just one. Playstation Vita and the 3DS have outstretched the boundaries of what is possible on handheld devices. Now with two analog sticks and a loads of other features these devices are more than capable of handling resource hungry games.The quality remakes that have appeared in the yet short life of these consoles is amazing.

A question that I often hear is, if the games are so good why not play them on their intended device in the first place?

  • I find that most of the remakes are actually better than the original games.Tactics Ogre: Let us cling together is a prime example.Even if there are no apparent changes to the game design, addition of extras, like trophy support increase the enjoyment of game even more.
  • They are always cheaper.Metal gear solid HD collection is two games for the price of one.Even if it is not a collection it is cheaper since there is usually added content or some other enhancements (disgaea 3 is a good example).
  • It can be a very good testing ground for the developers.It is cheap to remake a game.The developers can get some hands on experience of the console before they invest full time into it.Square Enix remade a lot of games for the PSP before they made their first original game for the system.
  • I don’t know if it is true for any of you but I feel guilty after sitting for long hours in front of TV.With handheld devices I play for a quick 15 -30 min put it to sleep and resume afterwards where I left off.In short sessions I play the game for much longer without affecting my work.
  • Remakes can introduce new franchises to a whole new generation of gamers.Much like the GBA and the PSP did for me.

Remakes are dismissed as a sign of laziness on the part of developers.But they have given me so many hours of enjoyment that I just love them.If it were not for remakes I am certain that I would have have missed out on some of my favorite games.I would never have played final fantasy 5 and probably would remain deprived of the awesomeness of gilgamesh or monster hunter.


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