Life isn’t a constant. It’s an ebb and flow of feelings, tastes and behaviors. And for me, something that has come and gone has been gaming. It’s always been on my mind, but the way it manifests itself varies. When I first started writing for Vita Player, I had just picked up a Playstation Vita. I had spent the past 2 years playing on a PSP and a 3DS. But before that, there was a 15 year gap to my Mega Drive days, with some PC gaming peppered in. And a similar thing happened recently. I had been playing some stuff on my Switch, as well as remote-playing PC games on my Vita. But nothing got me back into gaming as Donkey Kong Land 3 for the Game Boy Color.
Yep, you’ve read that right. I’ve been playing Donkey Kong Land 3 for the GBC quite a bit. And not just me: my wife loves Donkey Kong, so we’ve been alternating levels and watching each other play. It’s been great.
I’ve been trying to figure out why, out of all the systems I own, we ended up enjoying Donkey Kong Land 3 and playing it more than anything else. And then it clicked.
There’s something almost addictive to the immediacy of old handhelds. There are no loading times, no updates, no user interfaces to deal with. You put the cartridge in, you turn on the system, and you start playing.
Furthermore, games like Donkey Kong Land 3 don’t need a huge set of instructions or, like with RPGs, a ton of reading. In fact, my copy of DKL3 is in Japanese (because it’s the only version that comes in color rather than monochrome) and it hasn’t been an issue. It’s intuitive. It’s second-nature. And the game is so well designed to teach you the different mechanics of the different characters as you go along, too.
So, No More Big Games?
No, definitely not. I still love big, open worlds with sprawling stories that I can sink months into. But I’m 37 years old. I work a lot and so does my wife. We don’t always have the luxury of sitting down for a big adventure. And it was becoming an issue, preventing us from enjoying video games.
While big games will always have a place in my heart, my current reality is that they don’t always fit into my day. So, rediscovering the immediacy of an old-school, approachable platformer made for a 90’s handheld has been a godsend.
How About The Vita?
The Vita is an interesting device. It’s somewhere in between a GBC and a modern console. It’s certainly more immediate than, say, a Playstation 5 or even a Nintendo Switch. And the portability is a huge win. I don’t like being tied down to a TV.
But it’s not as immediate as a Game Boy game on real hardware. So, I’ll continue to play my Vita, just like I’ll continue to play my Switch, and my PC games (streaming to the Vita). But rediscovering the joy of immediate access to gaming, as well as sharing the experience with my wife, has been a welcome change of pace.