Recently, Sony made Remote Play available to gamers who use iOS devices. What this does is allow, as the name would suggest, people to remotely play games via a mobile device. In the past, this has been available on the PS Vita and Sony’s Experia phones, but this is the first time it’s reached an audience so large all at once. While Android users are currently not able to enjoy the software, iOS users might now discover the same thing I have: Remote play and mobile devices in general are perfect ways to enjoy an RPG.
It wasn’t until this Remote Play release that it actually struck me, but most of my RPG consumption has been done on portable systems. This is even more true when we speak of traditional JRPG games, which often incorporate turn-based combat. They’re remarkably easy to put up and put down, which is suitable for mobile devices. In fact, it’s a large part of how exclusively mobile games are designed. Perhaps this is why Octopath Traveler, which is available on the Nintendo’s pseudo-handhold, the Nintendo Switch, is one of the first large RPGs I’ve managed to beat in a while.
It’s a good thing that it’s such a good fit, too, because latency inherent in wireless connections can negatively effect other games. Shooters often rely on twitch-based reflexes and, while the connection with the PS4's Remote Play is impressive, latency can kill the fun of the games. In fact, the impression that latency can be present, even if it’s hardly noticeable, can give the sense that you are somehow experiencing something of lesser quality. I can only imagine how poorly this translates to fighting games, which are as much about precision and timing as they are about strategy. Most RPGs don’t suffer from this problem, though.
Even action RPGs can be well and truly enjoyed over a wireless connection, because the deciding factor in a lot of battles lies in both the approach and the build of your character. There’s something about an RPG that rewards preparedness. That same preparedness can simultaneously overcome a small amount of latency.
Square Enix, a company that publishes some of the most iconic RPGs in history, seems to know this. Its most recognizable franchise, Final Fantasy, has an extremely noticeable presence on cellphones and handhelds. A majority of that franchise’s library is available in some portable form. A gamer can easily play the first 10 games on a handheld without Remote Play, and then switch over to Remote Play for Final Fantasy XII and, maybe, XV. I’ve also played Final Fantasy XIV on my Vita and, depending on what you’re hoping to accomplish, it’s a very relaxing, easy way to pass the time.
Now, the Vita, DS, and 3DS have an advantage over cellphones, because they were designed with gaming in mind. Their controls feel good and are leaps and bounds better than a digital controller overlay that shares a screen with the game you’re trying to play. While this isn’t so much of a problem with older titles, it can be frustrating with newer ones on iOS. Currently, PS4 controllers are not compatible with Remote Play, but hope is not lost. Fortunately, there are work arounds that exist for other wireless controllers and they do a lot to bring the experience a little bit closer to traditional gaming.
With game streaming and PS4 Remote Play being potential forces for this and the next generation of consoles, the resurgence of the JRPGs popularity could be on the horizon. I’m not sure the technology is there, yet, to make gaming on mobile devices quite as enjoyable as it is on consoles for most genres, but I am relatively sure that there will be gamers eager to tap into the benefits of remote play if the option is readily available. I am sure they will discover that the games that work best will be JRPGs.