I’m often bemoaning handheld gaming systems on Twitter and the like, and it may seem like this is due to my having problems with the hardware or the very idea of portable gaming. But this is not the case. I’ve been thinking over were my opinions come from on this matter and think I may have uncovered the main reason for my issues.
However before I get to that I would like to preface this with my history of handheld gaming, mainly to show that I have invested some time and effort into the whole idea and am not just dismissing it out of hand, ahah!
My first device was an Atari Lynx, the ‘handheld’ brick that brought colour gaming on the move. Taking something like 8 AA batteries if memory serves and yet still only lasting for a few hours of play it’s uses were quite limited and I found I wasn’t using it anywhere near as often as I had dreamed I would before obtaining it. Friends who had stuck by their GameBoys seemed to be getting the better deal in all, and even the GameGear owners at least had a better stocked catalogue of titles. But I was unwilling to move to one of these ‘kids’ devices made by those cutesy looking console makers. I was an Atari ST owner, and wanted nothing to do with these lesser systems makers.
Roll on a number of years and I was ready to try again with the GameBoy Advance, my aversion to these console makers now passed thanks mainly to not being such a dick. After all as well as being very active with PC gaming I had taken to also maintaining a Nintendo console in the house since the N64. But again I was to be disappointed with the Advance, having jumped on before the SP the unbacklit GBA became a pain to use in almost any lighting conditions and I only ever picked up around 8 cartridges for it. But next came the solution. The DS Lite, having bypassed the original hardware, here was a backlit dual screened beauty which not only would open up a new world of gaming but allow me to finally get my fill from my Advance games thanks to the back compat port. I was finally to jump on the portable bandwagon and get to enjoy another world of gaming. Except I wasn’t. These sleek looking white consoles had one major drawback for me, they where unplayable. Anything more than 15 minutes and my hands would cramp up. Maybe they were designed for kids hands, though plenty of other people seemed to be able to get on with them, but whatever I tried there was no respite for my fingers. And so yet again I fell away from this whole portable gaming thing, poorer by the cost of two DS Lite systems and around 25 games.
And so here we are, in 2012 with newer systems around. Nintendoes 3DS is going strong, finally, and the PS Vita is just about here. But I will ignore them both, and belittle them. But now I realise it’s not because the systems are bad or the games lacking. It’s that I am denied these games. Games I could well enjoy. Perhaps my perfect game is out there on a portable system somewhere but I will never know as I find myself unable to play them.
Thankfully I do have one form of Portable gaming open to me. That which exists via our smartphones, devices I will always carry on me for far more than just gaming, but which can provide simple diversions during the day 5 or 10 minutes at a time. Less time than it takes for my hands to cramp, and with interfaces that are more comfortable anyway, well if you ignore the games with onscreen d-pads. Which I do. Perhaps this is the way portable gaming should be.