What was your experience with handhelds? Did you have a gameboy, game gear, PSP? Where do you think we’re going with handhelds? With the failure of the PS Vita it seems like handhelds are dead and devs are focusing more on mobile games.

I picked up my Vita less than 2 years ago. I love the thing but can’t seem to find physical games in any stores, servers are being shut down for a lot of games, no new games coming out worth talking about.

Where do you see the handheld industry?

I had an old school brick gameboy, game gear, game boy advance, and now a PS Vita. I like hand held gaming but it seems like they’re going away.

Curious about your thoughts.

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I love handheld gaming, and I think it’s a terrible shame that so much is going to mobile platforms. I said the same about portable audio, too. When everything gets lumped onto one device you end up with something that can make a passable effort of most things, but excels at none of them. And of course, given the state of the various app stores, everything gets laden with microtransactions and adverts and terrible “social” functions.

Not to mention the travesty that is touch-screen only gaming. My word. Give me physical buttons any day. The reason I have always preferred the 3DS to the old DS is that on 3DS most games limited touchscreen interaction to things it’s actually good at. And controlling even moderately paced action via a touchscreen is no fun at all.

If portables are truly on the way out (and it seems like they have been for a while, except for Nintendo keeping the dream alive) then it’s a massive shame. I’ve put more hours into my 2DS XL since it was released about 11 months ago than I have put into my various Wiis and Wii U ever, simply because it’s more accessible. I can play it on the train, on the loo, while waiting for the kids to finish whatever activity they’re at, while waiting for dinner to cook … whenever I want, it’s there.

The Wii is reserved pretty much entirely for Mario Kart. I’ve only managed to clock 16 hours in BotW so far. I bet if I had it on a Switch of my own (not a shared one that the kids demanded stay at home) I’d have finished it several times over by now.

In fact, the reason I play games more than any other hobby is because it’s the only one I can dip into for five minutes here and there, and it’s all thanks to handhelds.

I grew up on gameboy color. I really like my 3ds, especially for playing rpgs and stuff, cause you can just curl up on the couch and play, and not have to squint at your tv to read a lot of text. It offers a more private single player experience which I feel is more immersive than a huge tv?

The mobile market is really taking off, and it makes sense that phones would eventually take over this niche. I know right now you can get attachments that turn it into a game controller, but they’re not very mainstream. If like, apple or samsung or somebody came out with a game controller that snapped onto your phone and let you play on your phone like it was a big switch/psp, I think it would take off even further. There’d be more options and less handicaps in place for mobile gamers (like how in fortnite, mobile players who are at a disadvantage from not having controllers, the game adjusts for that).

I think this is what I find. A PC where the monitor is right there is immersive. A handheld where the whole world exists in a 3" window right in front of you is immersive. A 40+ inch TV across the room is … not immersive. Or private. I like my gaming to be me and the game and nothing else. No, I don’t have many friends, why do you ask? :wink:

I had a Sony Z3 phone with a connector on the side that let you clip it to the top of a PS4 controller and use the remote play thing like the Vita did. It was hilariously clunky and fell off all the time. But the thing is, and this is what upsets me that the 3DS is not getting a decent replacement, if I’m going to have a phone that provides the screen and a separate controller that clips on or under or around or whatever … I’d rather have an all-in-one that folds in half and fits neatly in my pocket.


It’s strange because mobile gaming is so primitive compared to handhelds. Graphics can be very nice on mobile but nothing compared to handhelds. Although, having started this topic, it did remind me to tinker with my 6 year old tablet. I did a factory reset and downloaded a few apps. I don’t think it will be too useful for mobile gaming. Might be able to put on something with low frame rates but we’ll see. Mobile gaming is one of a couple things that got me back into video games. I went about five years without video games, just wasn’t thinking about them. I think I was reading a lot of books and drinking a lot of beer.

I was playing Kiwanuka on my tablet and the controls with touch screen was awful. It was a type of game where you had to be precise where you sent the group. One messed up touch (the tablet, not me) sent everyone falling off the side. That was lame.

Oh yeah, for sure. I was playing Borderlands 2 over a long weekend and when I looked up I felt I was somewhere else all together. It really locks you in and lets you immerse into whatever game world you’re in. I actually built my own handheld, a Pigrrl using a Raspberry Pi 3b. It was the worst project ever! There was so much static over the speaker from the position of the battery that I gave up, disconnected the speaker and play without sound. I did log some hours in Chrono Trigger with the thing but building it was terrible.

You have gamer friends on Grouvee! Gaming for me is a private thing too. I like to play some two player games on my retro machine on occasion but mostly it’s just me, the screen, and some time.

Now that’s some serious mobile gaming! Hard core Angry Birds gamer perhaps?

I guess this never happened

here we go, this is what I was looking for. The N-Gage!

If Zack Morris wanted to game these days:

Alright, I’m having too much fun with this.

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Ah, the N-gage. What an oddity. And really emblematic of the issue; bad console, bad phone.

I think the issue I have with touchscreen controls are they the are two types. Imprecise tapping and swiping, which does not allow for accuracy or speed, or on screen emulations of physical controls, which are just dire.

On screen controls forget the most important part of physical controls; tactile feedback. Haptic feedback might let you know that something has happened, but what? Have your fingers drifted from the center and you’re actually pressing up instead of left, or block instead of fire? Being able to feel the D pad or buttons under your thumb gives positioning that’s just not possible on entirely 2D control schemes.

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Yep, two reasons why mobile gaming can suck. Unless you’re into clicker type games, which can be very addictive, gaming on a phone or tablet requiring accurate and fast controls just isn’t going to end well for you.

When I built my Pigrrl I opted for clicking type pads instead of squishy ones. It’s much better when the system registers a button pressed and you actually can hear the click, in my opinion.

Game and Watch handhelds were my start, along with other generic handhelds that were similar. Then the original GameBoy. I loved that thing. If I remember correctly I got it for Christmas in of ‘89. Super Mario Land 2 and Battletoads for GameBoy are sill two of my favourite games to this day.


I had the original huge gray brick game boy. I loved it too. I played mostly Tetris, some Mario Land 2, and Castlevania Adventure. I would play it so much the batteries would start leaking, which wouldn’t be a huge problem if I had the cover for it. I still have the thing:

I had mine but a friend of my brother’s borrowed it and lost it. His compensation to me was a Virtual Boy.

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Sounds like you came out ahead!

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Yes and no. Yes I gained a Virtual Boy. And it’s not like I don’t have other handhelds that play GameBoy games. But I do miss that console.

On the subject of consoles that play GameBoy games, I think my favourite is my GameBoy Advance SP. I love that thing, and it’s still going strong.

I’ve never had an SP, but the two things that bothered me were:

  1. rechargeable rather than AA, which may not be an issue now but was back then - could always sling a 4 pack of AAs in my school bag!
  2. weird proprietary headphone socket. What was that about? Especially weird that it blocked the charging port when in use.

I mean I’m nitpicking because, frankly, I was jealous of every single person who had one.

I did see one of these babies for a rather tempting price the other day, though …


I never had an SP but I did have the regular GBA. I liked it but the terrible lighting, or rather, lack of backlighting drove me nuts.

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My first console was a Gameboy Pocket, great little machine. Love my PSP and 3DS. But my wife gave me a Switch earlier this year (I hadn’t picked one up yet because I was trying to be responsible and work through my backlog on the PSP and 3DS first :wink: and I have to say, the Switch is a fantastic new handheld. And it seems pretty clear that most of the excitement around it is because it is a handheld. Being able to drop it in the dock and play on the TV is cool too but I use it way more as just a handheld with a nice size screen and 720p resolution.

The early success of Switch I think is a clear sign that people want handheld gaming. The business economics of mobile have pushed it in a very different direction from console gaming so I think the Switch at least has a clear differentiated market for the foreseeable future. Not sure how or if Sony and Microsoft will respond but Nintendo at least will push handheld forward. It’s pretty much always been their market anyway :slight_smile:


I’m not sure either…sounds like you’re right on the money. The first handheld was the game boy then it just evolved from there.

Microsoft has no presence in handhelds. Sony dropped the ball with the Vita. I love mine but like I said before, they let it die.

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This was actually a selling point for me. I loved that this meant smaller package.

Agreed. Weirdly I never bothered to use it, or headphones with it.

Why have you not already purchased it?

I really need to finally get one. With every passing month it grows clearer that all the games I want for my Vita are being released for the Switch.

True. Which is sad because, other than possibly the Switch, I think it’s the best Handheld ever made.

This was precisely why I bought an SP as soon as it was available. I was tired of attaching a light to my original Advance.