After underestimating Nintendo's ability to place a finger on the pulse of gaming twice, with the DS and Wii, we were prepared to see the 3DS become a similar hit. But as the monthly sales figures remained sluggish, it seemed the company's fortunes had changed. A dramatic price drop less than six months from its US launch date signaled that even Nintendo was acknowledging the trouble -- though early adopters benefited from two separate slates of free games for their troubles. Sales have been healthier since.
Meanwhile this year saw Sony making the official announcement and Japanese launch of the PlayStation Vita. A souped-up PlayStation Portable with all the trimmings, it promises a console-like experience with a beautiful display, front and rear touch features, and of course, dual analog sticks. It hit Japan on December 17, but missed its stated target of a global 2011 launch.
Though Nintendo denies the effects of the smart phone market, both it and Sony made some attempt to combat them head-on with features designed to reward taking your system on the go. The 3DS offers SpotPass features for running into other system owners and gathers Play Coins by walking, while the Vita’s Near feature accomplishes many of the same goals. Still, both companies are putting their stock in high-priced, traditional handheld games, as more users seem to be migrating to short, bite-sized experiences. The Vita has yet to launch in the US, but if the 3DS was any indication, this was the year that dedicated handheld systems met their match.
2011 was chock full of game releases and announcements, along with the highs and lows you'd expect from any 365-day period. Since we follow the news closely here -- it's right in the name -- now seemed like a good time to reminisce about some of the biggest happenings of the past year. These are the events that thrilled, frustrated, shook up, and baffled players in 2011.