Article from Next Gen

You probably recollect this Dragon Quest business late last year; in a move surprising to professional analysts everywhere, producer Yuji Horii (pictured) decided to go with the most popular piece of dedicated gaming hardware in generations for the next installment of the most important videogame franchise in Japan.

If people are bewildered, it's not due to the apparent rejection of Sony (whose hardware was home to the previous two chapters). After the mediocre performance of the PSP and the bad press regarding the PS3 launch, Sony has become a bit of a punching bag for the industry's frustrations. Fair or not, losing one more series however important hardly seems like news anymore.

In a sense, handhelds have become the new consoles and consoles have become the new arcade machines. That's not absolutely true, as handhelds still hold a unique appeal that consoles have never been able to enjoy (and vice versa). Still, it's close enough for Dragon Quest and judging by sales numbers, for the general Japanese audience. On the third hand, the point here isn't the facts of the situation, however fascinating they might be; it's that everything has its ideal context, and that every context has a unique set of qualities to address. If the DS has taken off and the PSP hasn't well, hey. Maybe, for all its merits, Sony kind of missed the point with that system. If handhelds are threatening to become more important than home consoles, it's because we've finally figured them out, kind of whereas we're still struggling to make something effective out of home systems. At least now we know what to look for.