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Posted Friday, July 27, 2007, at 12:16 PM

I must apologize ahead of time for the long blog. Feel free to read it in bite size segments if that suits you.

I'm gonna throw out a few words at you:




What do these words really mean to hardware developers? What do they mean to us as consumers?

I promised to discuss a few portions of E3 with you but where's the connection? My Answer? The PSP.

The PSP (Playstation Portable) Handheld system was re-introduced at E3. What we ultimately get is a slimmer, newer, prettier version of the same system.

Now, I'm not going to persecute the PSP itself. Certainly, it has its downfalls, but it has a great deal of lighter points as well. What I wish to call into question is the idea that every "console" whether it be a larger Playstation 3 or a Nintendo DS has to have 18 iterations.

The re...imagining of core systems has become a staple for these companies. However, not every edition of these systems is necessary and frankly becomes just another way to collect a buck. On the same note, some are greatly appreciated and even needed for the system to function properly.

Before I go into my opinion on these companies' methods for reinventing, I'd like to mention the different types of construction that is done on them.

I. Reinvention (see copying ideas)

Occassionally, you have an absolute trainwreck with console designing. These are the systems that aren't in the news and really aren't talked about. This is to the advantage of game companies everywhere. The more you keep these things hush hush, the more they can forget about them. Nintendo's Virtual Boy might be one of these. I remember when I was a kid(ha!), the virtual boy sounded like my childhood dream. I get to log into the virtual world and become... a super hero? Sounds..surreal.

Unfortunately the games offered little more than blinking lights reflected on an eye patch you wore around your head. I looked cool AND I was having a great time.

In a few years, someone might come around and decide they could use..holographics or mini-projection technology to produce something similar where it feels like our experience could be genuinely enhanced by it, that's re-imagining.

Remember the true goal for gaming everywhere is immersion. You want to *feel* like you're a part of that world. To that extent, immersion is vital to every form of entertainment.

II. Redesign (like Frankenstein)

This category is important for many reasons. Possible redesigns can be corrective, aesthetic or functional. Think of it as surgery.

Corrective is something much like what Microsoft is doing for the Xbox360. Microsoft has extended their warranty for all systems and have started to implement repairs upon the boxes being sent in. Obviously nothing looks different but the 'guts' of the system have changed, this way they could correct a fundamental design flaw.

On a side note. Microsoft is taking a much better stance on faulty systems than Sony did. I rejoice.

Aesthetic happens all the time. "It's all around us. You see it when you turn on your television. You feel it when you pay your taxes." For example: faceplates for any system. Custom, or modded designs. Several different colored versions of any system. Nintendo 64 had a "Pikachu" version. Xbox 360 is coming out with a "Master Chief" version (from Halo, one of the most popular Xbox games to date.) I believe Dreamcast had a "Hello Kitty!" version.

Aesthetic is the type of redesign which tries to attract more audiences by making them feel eclectic or more original.

Functional is more often seen with different variations of controllers, or different devices. Multiple versions of the same thing to enhance the user's...intuitive control over it. The PSP Slim Gym(tm)has moved a good deal of the buttons around in an effort to enhance performance. I believe the DS Lite, which couldn't be gotten for months, had a stronger back lit light and an overall slimmer design. I'm positive I'm missing a couple things but for this discussion they're fairly trivial.

Obviously, a great deal of redesigns are a hybrid of all three. However it's important to familiarize yourself with each console. I imagine some of you have children. You'll have to prepare yourself (or maybe you already have) for the ranting and raving of the new rage. I've felt it. I've begun to burn with searing passion as my friends held the new iteration of System 857 while I burned them to the core with my envy. I wanted it.

It's really unfair to kids. Sure, some of the efforts are so lazy on the companies' parts that kids see through quite a few schemes but it's hard for a kid to look at something and ask themselves if it's worth their time. Notice how I used non-gender specific pronouns? Girls are gaming more these days.

The Console situation is one of the reasons why parents need to be more informed. Games are another reason but I'm sure we'll touch on that in another post.

III. Recollect (not memories, my friend!)

As I mentioned before, a great deal of designs really have no purpose. They just...sit there and pry off of the little children and non-sensible adults who feel they have to have the hardcorez version or collect multiple versions of something. I know it sounds crazy, but these fanatic collectors are out there.

The real point of this article is to enlighten some of you. Which systems are really worth your time? Should you hold off in buying them? Chances are that there will be a new version within a year or two. Hardware versions get updated several times a year.

I was the 4th person in line at our local Wal-Mart to get a PS2. Within 5 months it had died on me. It was tragic. The eulogy was bitter and I'm thankful to have shoulders to cry on. I was frustrated and angry but I had to buy a new one. This is really what started my transition from the mentality of "wanting it right now" and the tendency to wait and see how things unfold. Sony didn't take responsibility and instead released corrective versions. That was a lesson learned. Don't buy first generation consoles. Ever.

With the redesigns of every hand held system, the same is becoming more and more true. What happened to those poor intrepid souls who bought the original DS? Thrown to the curb, the systems are sadly picto-chatting by themselves as their horrible, more feminine brother DS Lite steals their Ferrari.

So ask yourself, is this one worth it?

Showing comments in chronological order
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I have an original DS which I prefer over the DS Lite because of the size. The bigger case is a plus for me. I still play my old SNES before the new remodel came out for it. Remodels can be cool but originals can be just as good.

-- Posted by brokenblade on Fri, Jul 27, 2007, at 2:08 PM

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