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Top 10 best simulators we want to see on handhelds

Realistic demands
Product: Nintendo 3DS | Publisher: Nintendo | Format: 3DS, PS Vita
Nintendo 3DS Multiformat, thumbnail 1
With the release of Farming Simulator 2012 3DS in late March, the barn doors have been metaphorically swung open for games in the traditionally PC-based simulator genre to be cultivated on handhelds.

But, which activities and careers should developers focus on in designing simulation games for Nintendo's and Sony's portable devices?

At Pocket Gamer, we've got ten top suggestions...

Flight simulator

Pilotwings Resort is good, don't get me wrong, but there's nothing on portable consoles that comes close to representing the wonders of flight in a realistic fashion. Basically, we want a Microsoft Flight Simulator equivalent on the Vita.

Our demands are simple: touchscreen controls for the cockpit's dash, lifelike visuals, and online play so that we join a sky full of wannabe pilots as we begin our eight-hour flight from London to New York.

Soldier simulator

We envisage this as a first-person game, though with little combat. Daily patrols across expanses of barren desert with squad mates, tension building as you keep your eyes out for one-hit kill roadside mines.

Seeing the aftermath of conflict, having no way to intervene or provide aid: the humdrum life of a regular soldier might not sound like fun, but then war isn't fun, so wouldn't it be great if games could show that?

Sandwich lady simulator

With a full cart of overpriced crisps, individually sold cans of multi-pack fizzy drinks, and dodgy-looking egg mayonnaise baguettes, you have to wander the grey offices of corporations providing unhealthy lunches to the staff.

Featuring sandwich-making mini-games, driving sequences as you head to the cash and carry, and dialogue trees in which you try to avoid saying, "don't worry, pay me tomorrow", Sandwich Lady Sim is a surefire recipe for success.

Ski region simulator

To make this happen, all Giants Software would need to do is port its PC version across to the 3DS or Vita.

The original is surprisingly entertaining: part-management of a ski resort and its slopes, part-objective fulfilment, part-faffing about on mountains with snowmobiles. A more activity-filled title than most within its genre, this would be perfect for sim newbies.

Simulation-making simulator

Have you ever wanted to know what it's like to be an Eastern European developer making ultra-niche simulation games for an audience that complains about the smallest detail? Well, here comes Simulation-Maker Simulator.

Sit in a chair! Type out code on a keyboard! Experience the soul-crushing effects of deadline crunch! If you're sick of casual games like Game Dev Story, then Simulation-Maker Simulator might be just for you.

Simulation-making simulator-making simulator

The same as above but with another layer of Brechtian wall smashing thrown in for a more knowing title.

The concept of being a man controlling a man who controls a man making a game in which you control men going about their daily business sounds intriguing, no?

Ocean diver simulator

Imagine exploring a hidden underwater paradise on the 3DS: shoals pass by your head as you ensure your oxygen intake balances are correct.

Leaving you to your own devices with a vast area to explore and discover - figuring out the skills required for diving along the way - this could be a very freeing, very relaxing game for handheld enthusiasts.

Private investigator simulator

Like L.A. Noire but with far more work involved and a jot more mundanity, this particular sim would involve your solving minor civil disputes that law enforcers can't (and wouldn't) touch.

You'd undertake surveillance missions with Pokemon Snap-style photography, rifle through documents to locate key words like 'secretary' and 'hotel', search bins for evidence, and engage in all the other despicable activites PIs are renowned for.

Train simulator

These games do serious business on PC, no doubt due to the staggering amounts of money that can be spent on DLC. Since the portable gaming industry hasn't enjoyed that much success with add-on content, perhaps this sub-genre could be the one to re-ignite interest in expansion packs on the DS and Vita.

The games themselves are a pleasant way to spend a rainy Sunday afternoon. Getting from Bristol Parkway to Paddington - enjoying the scenery en route - is something we'd like to do on a handheld.

Inner-city bus driver simulator

Minimum requirement for this simulation game: a super-realistic handling model that lets you perform 'every' trick in the bus driver's book.

I mean, who doesn't want to pull off the "we're never going to get through there" pass between parked cars? Or the riotously funny "let's frighten some pedestrians with a 'pwoosh' sound"? And what about the classic "I'm gonna drive past the stop full of people waiting because I want to get home" manoeuvre?

Coming this summer. Creepy facial hair and lack of humour not included.

Reviewer photo
Peter Willington 26 April 2012
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