Forgotten Lore: A Portable Elder Scrolls

Forgotten Lore: A Portable Elder Scrolls

With The Elder Scrolls currently at the center of everyone’s attention, I want to take a step back and reflect upon a time when gamers were oh so close to being able to take their Elder Scrolls on the road.

Believe it or not, The Elder Scrolls series has existed in the portable realm for quite some time now under the guise of The Elder Scrolls Travels with two  titles, Stormhold (2003) and Dawnstar (2004), developed elusively for java-enabled cell phones and one title, Shadowkey, developed  for the Nokia N-Gage. These games were never able to match the scope of their PC and console counterparts, but nevertheless, they were portable adventures in the Elder Scrolls realm. But as portable technology advanced it only seemed like a matter of time before a true Elder Scrolls game would make its way onto the road.

Then, way back in the forgotten ages of 2006 when Oblivion was literally raking in the awards there popped into existence a little known title called the Elder Scrolls Travels: Oblivion slated for release on the PSP. It seemed like the logical system choice as the graphical prowess of Sony’s portable device far surpased anything on the market and the Elder Scrolls would be a welcome addition to the system’s lacking lineup. Not to mention Sony could capitalize on the current success of Oblivion.

I was working at GameStop when I saw this title pop into the system as being open for reservations. Naturally it didn’t have a  release date, but once a title hit the GameStop reserve list it was a pretty safe bet that release wasn’t more than a year away. (Mind you, this was 5 years ago and I know things have changed there since!)

I quickly reserved myself a copy of the title and began scouring the net for absolutely anything I could manage to find; which was next to nothing. And it would remain that way indefinitely. The system never updated with a solid release date and before long, it drifted out of memory. I would occasionally check in every couple of months and take a peek in hopes that something had changed, but for nearly a year it remained unchanged. TBA.

Then, in 2009, nearly two years after my stint at the all consuming used game mega giant, I heard the news that The Elder Scrolls Travels: Oblivion had been canceled. No press release. No official report. No explanation. The title simply vanished into thin air, never to be heard from again.

Now, nearly 6 years after the release of Oblivion, I am enjoying my time in Skyrim, but I can’t help but shake the thought there once existed a chance for me to explore the worlds of The Elder Scrolls while on the go. Why had it been cancelled? Was it any good? Will it ever return?

I have always been a supporter of the PSP as it’s been the one system capable of providing a genuinely console-esque experience on the go. So naturally one would think that the series would thrive on the PSP as other had. Graphically, the system could have handled the series, albeit in a relatively toned down fashion, but nevertheless, it wouldn’t have looked terrible. Unfortunately, anyone who has attempted to play any sort of first person style game on the PSP will be quick to tell you that the lack of a second joystick makes controlling the game nearly impossible. Therefore, assuming all was fine and well on the development and story end of things, the controls may very well have been the deciding factor in whether or not to continue the title. Regardless of how good it was, would anyone really want to play a game, especially one as incredible as The Elder Scrolls, if it controls like crap?

Let’s pretend for a moment that the controls weren’t an issue. The sheer size of a proper Elder Scrolls game may have proven to be too much for the little system. The original Xbox struggled to properly stream the world of Morrowind, which was minuscule in comparison to Oblivion, so it’s probable that even trying to pack a toned down, dungeon-based version of the game proved to be too much.

For as incredible as The Elder Scrolls Travels: Oblivion may or may not have been, it was cancelled. But does that really mean that there is no hope for a future Travels title?

Sony is gearing up to launch to PlayStation Vita this holiday season, which many have regarded as the portable PS3. Now, I can’t help but wonder if Sony has learned their lesson about how important AAA titles are during the early stages of a console’s life (i.e. PSP & PS3). To me, the Vita seems like the logical choice for a true Elder Scrolls title, especially seeing as how the system is flaunting unprecedented portable visuals – even if they aren’t on par with the PS3 as once promised. Also, the inclusion of the second joystick eliminates the argument that proper controls couldn’t be achieved. Finally, the UMD-less system with its expandable memory could very well accomodate the massive file size an Elder Scrolls title would surely bring to the table.

Needless to say, Sony would be foolish to at least not entertain the idea.

Let’s just hope that if  The Elder Scrolls does find its way into our pockets that it isn’t a watered down version that alienates the true gameplay of the series. Perhaps an HD rehashing of Morrowind, or a full on port of Oblivion? Better yet, Skyrim with that newfangled Transfarring feature the Vita is set to intoduce.

Imagine… playing Skyrim at home and suddenly your dearly beloved wants to drag you along on a day of shopping at the mall across town. Rather than feign sickness or express your hatred of all things shopping center related, you simply agree and transport your current save to your Vita and continue your adventure while sitting outside every changing room in town.

A man can dream, can’t he?


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