Since the early 80’s, people all over the world have been carrying handheld games consoles such as Nintendo’s Game & Watch series everywhere they go. With so many games released it started to become a chore, you know carrying a ruck-sack around full of separate Game & Watch’s just to keep yourself happy. It seemed that the industry was ready for a evolution.
In 1988 Nintendo brought the UK to a standstill by releasing the infamous Game Boy, a fairly large but ingenious handheld console. Now everyone could carry around just one system (with a few games cartridges which were relatively small). The Game Boy burst onto the market as the forerunner of the industry – and is also the biggest selling handheld console of all time. With a large range of games such as the very successful Legend of Zelda and the infamous Pokemon and, of course, being launched with the legendary Tetris, it’s not hard to see how the system became so successful.
There were lesser competitors such as the Atari Lynx and Sega Game Gear. The Atari Lynx was released in 1990, although a superior system to the 8-bit 2-colour Game Boy, the 8-bit Atari Lynx had limited battery life and hardly any support from third-party companies to release their games on the system. The Sega Game Gear suffered the same fate, although it was closer to the Mega Drive in graphics, gameplay and games.
Even today, you could walk down the street and ask anyone if they have heard of the game Tetris, Nintendo fanboy or not they would say “yes”. Even in this day and age you can still meet people who have never heard the names Resident Evil or Mortal Kombat (that’s people who never read the paper or watch TV, people who walk around oblivious to the world around them). A problem in the 80’s and 90’s was that game playing was classified as nerdy. But now it’s a lot more fashionable to be a nerd such as Pharrell Williams from the band N*E*R*D/the production group The Neptunes. People like him have brought the title nerd into more fashionable circles.
Today the games companies have realised that advertising is the way to sell products. Especially now that people have a lot more money to spend on luxuries. So you see a lot more people carrying handhelds such as the Game Boy Advance and NintendoDS, and not to forget Nokia’s N-gage; most people carry mobile phones today, with the capability to play games, but the N-gage is actually supposed to be a handheld console, with a vast range of games with a similar price tag to the other systems.
But why in 2005 is there such a call for handheld consoles? I know that the technology of today is much more advanced, but does the fact that you now have a big and flashy screen make the games better to play? I don’t think so; we’ve had games such as Super Mario Land on the 8-bit 2D games console, which even of today’s standards is a great game, and games such as the fabled Tetris which hardly pushed the system
It’s cool to own a NintendoDS or PSP today with lots of celebrities backing the systems that are their favourites it makes the mainstream public want to own their own. And with the vast array of games on the Game Boy Advance there are games for everyone’s taste.