Five Influential Handheld Video Game Systems
All too often, home gaming consoles get their praises sung by the video game faithful, but what about handheld systems? Who sings their praises? They deserve them, too, but today many people simply play handheld games on their smartphones. Before this, however, there were only handheld video games systems. The idea of gaming while on the go is not a new concept. Far from it. In this article we’re going to take a look at the unsung heroes of handheld gaming. So without further ado here are five handheld systems that may be gone, but are not forgotten.
- Nintendo 3DS
The Nintendo 3DS is a unique handheld system. Nintendo has always tried to innovate, and the 3DS is no exception. What sets the Nintendo 3DS apart from other handhelds is it’s ability to display stereoscopic 3D effects without the need for glasses or other accessories.
The system like it’s predecessor (Nintendo DS) in that it has two screens: one up top and a touch screen on bottom for your gaming pleasure. The system also allows you to connect to Nintendo’s eShop where you can download games through wifi connections. This gives the Nintendo 3DS a huge library of games in addition to offering gamers a unique experience.
- Sega Game Gear
The Game Gear came out in the United States in 1991, and was meant to compete with Nintendo’s Game Boy. The Game Gear was a technologically superior handheld. It was built based on the technology of the Sega Master System, and by using an adapter could even play Master System games.
What earns the Game Gear its spot on this list is the fact that it was a full color 8-bit handheld that was also backlit. This was the same as the home consoles at the time. Gamers could enjoy the mobility of a portable console, while offering gamers a home console experience.
- The Game Boy Color
After the success of the original Game Boy, Nintendo, at the behest of developers created a true successor in the Game Boy Color. The Game Boy Color was a true step up from the original Game Boy. Both hardware and graphics wise it was a successor in every sense of the word.
The thing however that allows the Game Boy Color to stand out as a handheld video game system is perhaps a feature that people often credit Sony’s Playstation 2 with: backwards compatibility. That’s right, long before the Playstation 2 introduced the feature, the Game Boy Color was allowing gamers to play original Game Boy titles on the new system. At the time this was a ground breaking feature, one that would carry over to many of the Game Boy’s that would follow.
- Sony’s Playstation Portable
The Playstation Portable was Sony’s answer to Nintendo’s dominance of the handheld video gaming market. Often times referred to as the PSP, the Playstation Portable launched in the United States in 2005. The Playstation Portable had a rather large screen for a portable system coming in at 4.3 inches.
The feature that to this day sets the Playstation Portable apart is not the screen size, or any of its long list of features. No, the feature that made it so unique is the fact that it is the only handheld video games console to this day that has used an optical disc format. This format was dubbed Universal Media Disc (UMD), and it worked well not just for games. In fact a number of movies were also released on the format that were viewable on the Playstation Portable. To this day, not another handheld system has used an optical disc as its primary format.
- The Atari Lynx
Atari has been a staple in the gaming industry. Much like Nintendo and Sega, the mention of Atari stirs up a feeling of nostalgia inside of our gamer hearts. It should come as a surprise to no one that Atari had their own handheld video game system. The Atari Lynx was an impressive piece of hardware for back in the day, so impressive that it tops this list. The Lynx was a handheld that involved a lot of firsts. It was the first handheld to have a color display that was backlit, even though Sega may have done it better with the Game Gear. Nevertheless, Atari did it first.
The Lynx was also built to accommodate all gamers. Left handed? Not a problem as the Lynx was able to be turned upside down to accommodate players whom were left-handed. This switch-able configuration was unheard of at the time, and was without a doubt a truly unique feature.
Still not impressed? Tough crowd. Then how about this? The Lynx was capable of networking with up to 17 other Atari Lynx systems. So counting the base Lynx that’s a total of 18 players playing a game together on a portable. This was made possible with the Comlynx system developed by Atari for use with the handheld.
All of these features that the Lynx employed was done so in 1989, making the Atari Lynx conceptually years ahead of its time. This also proves that while Sega and Nintendo may have done it, in some cases better, Atari did it first.
There you have it. Five of the most influential, and often times under rated handheld video games consoles of all time. Without these portables, the gaming landscape would look drastically different, perhaps even unrecognizable.
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