Let me paint a picture for you: you are going on a summer holiday and your family (in their wisdom) have chosen County Galway on the west coast of Ireland as your destination. You are going to a quaint little cottage, facing the Atlantic, with the dramatic Twelve Bens mountains behind you. To get there it is two hours by car to the ferry, then another four hours on the ferry and then another leisurely five hours to cross the width of Ireland. And when you arrive it is pissing rain due to the Atlantic on one side and the mountains on the other. And all you have to game with you is your DS. And your charger has just broken. This, no word of a lie, happened to me. And I am here now to stop something like this every happening again. Here are my holiday gaming survival tips.
1) Even if they say they’ve got wifi, don’t believe them!
It is always a lie. What cottage in rural Ireland or in Bordeaux does have reliable internet? I have only ever seen one and even that would periodically shut itself down every twelve hours for some inexplicable reason. Multiplayer is most probably out the window, and the wifi in the bar in town is probably not a good substitute either. It is for checking facebook and email. Not raiding in WoW.
2) Pack light. By which I mean, not a console.
A PS1 or PS2 is probably okay but this is related to point one. They do not need wifi and they are relatively small. 360 and PS3 onwards is not great. I do not know if you have ever carried the power brick of a 360 in a backpack but it is like you are carrying stones in a chain gang. Not a great idea. Stick to laptops, tablets and handhelds.
3) A good engine is your friend.
Since the primary device you are going to be using is a laptop choose games with sturdy engines. Do not play games running off Unreal. Your cute little Macbook probably can not handle it. Source and the Telltale engines both scale well to run on low end hardware so you can happily shoot Combine or solve mysteries in The Wolf Among Us. The framerate might be variable and you may have to turn off ultra particle effects funtime, but most likely you will get a decent experience.
4) And on the back of the laptop point, bring a mouse.
PC games require mice. You can stutter along using the trackpad but it is like using an elastic band for the chain on your bike. It will work sure – but you are going to have a crap ride! If you can afford it, buy a gaming mouse (the older Logitech ones like the G400 are cheap and excellent) but if not get a cheap wired one. Do not get one of the tiny ones with the wind up cables either. They might seem practical but they are a pain and if the mechanism jams you are screwed.
5) Tablets are a modern miracle of travel gaming.
You heard it here first folks! Whilst idiots will whinge about it not being ‘proper’ gaming they can go stuff themselves for all I care. Tablet games are cheap, they can look brilliant and be a lot of fun. Even though the medium traditionally focuses on very simple gameplay you can find some very fun narratives such as Device 6. They have even got the Telltale games running on them now. And if you want proof that tablet gaming is ‘proper’ gaming: Hearthstone, XCOM: Enemy Unknown, FTL and Papers, Please.
6) Handhelds are a tricky one.
As tablets have become more popular, modern day handhelds have become less so. Nintendo seem to be bashing out a new 3DS every year in the hope that people will eventually start buying them and Sony appear to have given up entirely on the Vita-that-shall-not-be-named. It is a shame really because the two systems do have some great titles: the Vita’s got the God of War compilation and Tearaway and the 3DS has Smash Bro’s and the new Pokemon games (I am neck deep in Alpha Sapphire at the moment and can recommend.) However they are difficult to recommend on the basis of the price of the system and the games. You will spend roughly the same amount on a tablet and twenty games as you would on a 3DS XL and one game. Pick carefully.
7) And for the love of all that’s holy remember this one.
Pack your chargers. Because if you do not you end up with a bunch of beautifully engineered doorstops and paperweights. I am speaking from experience.