Tag Archives: DS

Seriously, How Unimportant Is Sound in Handheld Games?

I’ve been playing my shiny new 3DS (well, it’s new to me) long enough to determine that, at its heart, it’s really just a better DS. It’s not trying to reinvent the wheel; Nintendo just stuck with what worked, and gave it better graphics, a simply terrific analog stick, and some 3D-ness. One thing in particular I had hoped they would improve, however, is the audio. The speakers are much better, for sure (have a listen on Nintendo Video or Netflix and compare it to any DS game if you don’t believe me), but I still have exactly zero qualms about playing nearly any game with the sound off. When I think back to some of the incredibly catchy melodies from the original NES – over 25 years ago – this lack of advancement in the sound department is simply unacceptable.

This is one area in which Sony has always excelled – the PSP and the Vita have some pretty great speakers, and the games on those systems recognized that fact, so much so that investing in a decent pair of headphones to play games is actually recommended. (I’d expect nothing less from the creators of the Walkman.) The higher-capacity UMD format helped too, I think, as did the ability to play PSOne Classics on the systems. The CD format and the original PlayStation is when game technology finally made it possible to do sound design, spoken dialogue, and full orchestral soundtracks by real full orchestras justice, and the disc format has helped every console since do more with their games’ sound and music. But the 3DS and DS aren’t disc-based. Continue reading

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