Admittedly this was sort of touched on in a recent issue of Game Informer, but I mean to expand on it quite a bit more here. Truthfully if you take a good look at the libraries of the consoles and their portable counterparts these days, if you are looking for something besides the hugely budgeted, barely recognized as an rpg anymore efforts from the likes of Bioware and Square Enix, increasingly you are finding it in the portable market. There are smaller cultish titles, titles rich in and proud of their JRPG roots, beautifully remade classics, and occasionally the newest entry of a long-running series.
And maybe this is the way it should be. Games seem to ballooning in budget, which leaves little to no room on consoles for niche titles. If you want to do an rpg on there, it almost automatically suffers from it's niche market to begin with. Hell Mass Effect 3 was officially delayed to make it appeal to a wider audience. Now I love the ME games, but what started out as a futuristic rpg with slight shooter trimmings has become pretty much the inverse of that, becoming less and less what drew in rpg fans in the first place. It's happened with Dragon Age as well. The original was a harsh old school rpg while the sequel was much more casual. Now I enjoyed both these titles, but if everybody follows in their footsteps we are left with what we've got now which is a huge gap in worthwhile rpgs for the home audiences. Turn to portables and that is nowhere near the case, as between retail and downloadable releases you seem to on average having a couple every month. Admittedly I may get an PSP Vita just so I can play all the PSP rpgs I'm currently missing out on. And you are seeing series that previously were only on console migrate to the portables such as Dragon Quest and Paper Mario.
Now some of this makes sense fiscally, these titles are cheaper to develop on portables and much less of a risk. But despite the original idea of portables only being good for bite-sized gaming, this just seems like an increasingly good and natural fit for this genre, as it's just overall a great landscape to be more experimental and being something where it's easier to fnd your niche audience. I believe portables are pretty much the future of rpgs (at least rpgs as we've traditionally defined them) and that future is actually looking increasingly bright.
Well that's it for the main crux of today's post, but of course a new post for the week means a new bit of Zelda goodness: JOHN HUGHES THE LEGEND OF ZELDA
And of course your FREE GAME OF THE WEEK (and I should be back Friday with a new post): Level Up