2010 has been a great year in gaming- this is probably something you must have become sick of reading by now, especially here on GamingBolt. But it’s true. This year truly has seen some truly memorable releases. But the question is, has the handheld market seen as much success as the console market? Did the DS and the PSP receive as many good and memorable games as the “big guys?” Let’s have a look:
Q1 of 2010 was simply wonderful for the DS. Though it did not get a lot of the big names to itself, it did get a lot of quality releases. But that’s not to say it got no big releases at all. The year went off with a bang with Pokemon HeartGold and SoulSilver, remakes of the legendary Role Playing classics Gold and Silver, arriving late in the first quarter of the year. HG/SS were just plain awesome, and they recreated the Johto magic perfectly, almost better than the original Gold and Silver. There was also Shin Megami Tensei: Strange Journey which was a very enjoyable Role Playing Game as well.. Other than these two awesome Pokemon games and the one SMT title, the DS saw some other great releases, such as Bejeweled Twist, Sonic & Sega All Stars Racing, WarioWare D.I.Y, Dark Void Zero, Alice in Wonderland and a lot more. I’m sure some of you might be looking at those names there and thinking “really now?” But yes- really. These games were awesome, and deserve to be tried by all those who own a DS and are looking for good games this year.
The PSP didn’t have such a great start. Sony’s handheld system saw only two notable releases in the first quarter of the year- Lunar: Silver Star Harmony and Silent Hill: Shattered Memories. Though even these games were great. Silent Hill provided us with an awesome survival, thrilling experience on the PSP, while Lunar, with its addictive Role Playing mechanics, hooked us to itself till its very end. There were also less notable games like 2010 FIFA World Cup South Africa and Age of Zombies, but they were less notable for a reason.
Bottomline- Q1 2010 went quite well for the handheld market.
Q2 was much better for the PSP- and much worse for the DS. Nintendo’s super successful handheld system did not get many big releases, and the releases that it did get were not very memorable. Picross 3D, Lego Harry Potter Years 1-4, Monster Racers, Blue Dragon: Awakened Shadow and Tetris Party Delux were some good games, but they were nothing exceptional, and definitely not up to the standard of the usual DS releases. Though they were enjoyable, they were less so than the games in the first quarter of the year.
The PSP, though, saw some great releases, the best and the most awesome of which was Metal Gear Solid: Peace Walker. Though Peace Walker did not sell half of half as well as it should have, it was a brilliant games. With 100 plus hours of gameplay, a gripping story, great characters and the best gameplay in the series ever (not to mention the awesome boss fights), Peace Walker can very well be called the best MGS game ever, better even than the console heavyweight Guns of the Patriots. Other than this wonderful MGS title, there were other great releases as well. There was Lego Harry Potter Years 1-4 again. Then there was Hot Shot Tennis: Get A Grip which, despite its name, was a very enjoyable tennis game. And then there was Hexyz Force, a deep and enjoyable Role Playing Game by Atlus.
Thanks to Metal Gear Solid, Q2 was awesome as well.
The third quarter of 2010 went wonderfully for both the systems, but more so for the PSP. But let’s talk about the DS first. The DS saw a few great releases, but two of them stood out from almost all releases in those three months- Professor Layton and the Unwound Future and Dragon Quest IX: Sentinels of the Starry Skies. Professor Layton and the Unwound Future was the exactly what we needed- a game that leases a new breath of life into the system. Layton games have always been awesome, but none have been more so as Unwound Future. It had an excellent story, awesome puzzles and great cutscenes to boot. Dragon Quest IX, on the other hand, was pure, unadulterated RPG fun, with no unnecessary complexities thrown in to detract from the experience. That’s not to say the game wasn’t deep- no, DQIX is one of the deepest, the most addictive, fun and involving RPGs on the DS. Other than these, the DS saw other notable releases such as Batman: The Brave and the Bold- The Video Game and Etrian Odyssey III: The Drowned City.
The PSP probably had the best three months of its lifetime in the third quarter of 2010. Shin Megami Tensei: Persona 3 Portable Valkyria Chronicles II, Kingdom Hearts: Birth By Sleep, Ys Seven and Phantasy Star Portable 2 were all great RPGs, the first three being the best of all. Persona 3 perfectly recreated the console classic on a handheld, without loosing the essence, the addictiveness and the fun. Valkyria Chronicles II, other than its technical flaws and minor bugs, was almost better than the console debut of the series, providing with tonnes of hours full of fun and enjoyment and Kingdom Hearts: Birth By Sleep, the game we have been waiting for so long was a perfect comeback for the KH series, and possible even the best game to have come out of the Square banner in the past few years. Other notable releases were Ace Combat: Joint Assault and Gravity Crash Portable.
Q3 was just as awesome as it possibly could have been.
The last three months of the handheld market in 2010 were great as well, and almost equally good for both the systems, though the DS edged out the PSP, simply because of the sheer number of games that were released on it. But let us talk about the PSP first here, for one. The PSP, while did not have a whole lot of great releases in the final quarter of the year, it did have one awesome trump card- God of War: Ghost of Sparta. Ghost of Sparta is the best PSP game ever, according to us, and a super action adventure game overall. This is not an an awesome game for a handheld that has next to nil good games. This is just an awesome game in its own rights, one that even best of the best console games cannot hope to match up against. And while the PSP did get a couple of other good releases, like Ys: The Oath In Felghana and Worms: Battle Islands, they (obviously) pales in comparison to the awesome Ghost of Sparta.
And then there’s the DS. The DS’s most notable release in Q4 2010 was Shantae’s Risky Revenge, an addictive 2D platformer which amounted to tonnes of hours of fun filled gameplay. Black Ops and Rock Band 3 were also great on the handheld system, while other anticipated releases like Final Fantasy: The 4 Heroes of Light, Mario vs Donkey Kong- Mini Land Mayhem and Sonic Colours didn’t disappoint either. Nine Hours, Nine Persons, Nine Doors was a surprisingly goos game as well, one that managed to impress us despite it having a fairly strange name.
The year, obviously, ended with a bang.
So just how good was 2010 for the handhelds? For the PSP, it was definitely better than the past few years. With awesome release such as Birth By Sleep, Peace Walker, Ghost of Sparta, Valkyria Chronicles II, Persona 3 Portable and a ton others, there was no lack of good games on the system this year- and that is saying something, keeping in mind the PSP’s track record. The DS, however, did not have a year as good as it has had in the past. While it got a lot of great games, like Mario vs Donkey Kong, Professor Layton, Dragon Quest, Pokemon and many, many others, it just didn’t live up to its old self. 2010 was great overall, for the handheld market, though it could’ve been a bit better for the DS.