I have been playing my old Game Boy Advance (SP of course) quite the bit this month, catching up on the original Golden Sun titles, because I have to wait until Christmas to open Dark Dawn.
<insert disapproval rant here>
Since I still have my Gamecube, and the GBA Player, I’ve been having a lot of fun playing it on my bigger TV. The kids love seeing what I am doing, and I love that they aren’t practically laying on me just to look at it.
I have been thinking a lot about this outdated middle ground, an odd in-between place amongst consoles and handhelds. In the past, games were often regarded as a “social toy”, as depicted in many early advertisements. Children and parents alike, huddled around the television, poking buttons on a little box; it was the essence of family values; togetherness.
I often spent time with my friends in this very manner, as I am sure most of us did. Classic moments we all knew together, and we were all learning at the same time. I had so many playground conversations about the secrets we had all found, “Where was the secret warp?”, “What was the solution to that Lolo puzzle?”, I knew everything. Whether I was helping beat a boss, or playing Techmo Bowl with my brother, or just watching each other play, it didn’t matter, we were all just hangin’ out!
It wasn’t too long before we started seeing portable consoles, and people were instantly hooked! Sonic, Mario, Tetris, Columns, Mortal Kombat; all of your favorites, all in your pocket! People were fascinated with the complexity of it all, but one thing was missing. When you play on television, everyone around you can see the action too. When you play on a Gameboy, you are the only one who sees. It completely removes the social aspect from the system.
Throughout the generations of portable consoles to come, there were many attempts to bring that principle back in. Multiplayer games (that required multiple copies of the game, multiple systems, and usually a special cable); bigger, brighter screens (which kills your batteries); plugging your portable into your home console to unlock goodies; some games even try to make players hand the system around when it is each persons turn. Many of these things failed, a choice few were perfected, and the rest forgotten.
One of these concepts truly stood out to me when I was younger, and that was Portable to TV, or vice versa. Whenever I played my Gameboy, I always wished other people could enjoy it with me. I had experienced so many NES adventures with my family, I wanted to share this with them too. Link’s Awakening, Metroid 2, Mario Land 2: 6 Golden Coins, Kirby’s Dreamland 2, THE ENTIRE FINAL FANTASY LEGEND SERIES!!!!!! They were all so wonderful, but it wasn’t until 1994 that I would be able to share them.
When I heard that Nintendo had released a cartridge adapter for the SNES, allowing me to play my favorite Gameboy titles on my much bigger television, and even add colors… the Super Gameboy … Yeah, I was just a little excited about it! The concept was beautiful; I could easily sit back and relax with my family, while playing Sword of Hope. I couldn’t be happier; it was all I had hoped for! Super Nintendo had the Super Gameboy. Gameboy Advance had the GBA Player.
Sega went the opposite direction and created the Nomad, allowing players to take their Genesis titles wherever they went. Even the PSP now has video out. We saw attempts to make home consoles portable as well; LCD screens that attached to the rear of the system, and battery packs or car chargers, meant that you could take your PlayStation camping! (thus totally defeating the purpose)
I use the Gameboy Player all the time, I really wish that developers would push more for go-between devices like it. The Super Gameboy allowed programmers to use the SNES hardware to produce better graphics and audio than the game would have if played on an actual Gameboy. It’s sad that if my Gamecube dies, that the Player dies with it. Recently, Nintendo removed the GBA slot from the NDS, and even then, it could only be used for GBA titles. I suppose I could use my SNES and the Super Gameboy, but that wouldn’t let me play me Gameboy Color titles…
But I digress, I have set the pretence enough.
I keep thinking about all of this, and I wonder. I wonder and I creatively dream. When I play my DS, I keep pondering how they could make this work. How, how could they put the DS on the TV? I sat here thinking of this great device I know I will never see, and yet, I feel I should share my dream with you.
The DS is easily divided into its two screens purposes: the top screen is display only, so it seems obvious that the television replaces the top screen functions. But what of the touchscreen, and the buttons, the hardware? All I can see is a tablet sized device, wirelessly broadcasting the top-screen video and audio to a receiver plugged into the TV. The D-Pad could be replaced with a multi-directional nub-stick, and all the buttons (including shoulder tabs) on the frame.
As long as I am dreaming, why not throw in a GB/GBC/GBA backwards compatibility slot, and screen selection, so I can play on the device screen, or beam it to the television! Throw in the DSiWare made specifically for this tablet edition, and the ability to browse the web, maybe enhance many of the existing DSi features for media playback. Why not throw in some Wii game compatability? Make some Wii games use the DS as an extra screen, so long as the Wifi exists this should already be a feature. A Wii game could come with a cartridge for the DS, and both software’s work together, and you could purchase extra carts for multiplayer. They sort of did this with the Gameboy Advance, but it required cables, and a ton of hassle. With the wireless features, this could be simple to set up, and very practical. The party applications for this are endless, each player with a tablet screen, and a single shared larger screen. Digital board games! Maybe a Mousetrap that actually WORKS! ^_^
This article really shows me how easily this could become a reality, and if you think that looks sloppy, check out this link HERE, console body mods really take off once a system is outdated!
How many features could they apply to this concept? Personally, I think it would enhance my DS experience, how about you? How many of you would buy something like this, I know I would.
<Nintendo, make me one!>