Handheld Gaming Guide

Remember the earliest GameBoy days?  You know, when you went cross-eyed from staring at a tiny green and black screen, stomping on Goombas or twirling Tetris blocks?  While those of us who grew up on Nintendo's 1989 innovation may feel a strong sense of nostalgia for the simple graphics, simple games, and simple choice (there was only one handheld system on the market), the new systems have added a multitude of new dimensions to the handheld gaming world.  Those of you who have only been introduced to newer versions of handheld gaming systems, it seems that the big companies will continue to put out dazzling systems for you to enjoy.  Read the following more about different systems before you choose your new travel buddy.

Nintendo's Next Step: DS vs. DS Lite

Nintendo released the DS  in 2004 and replaced it with the smaller, superiorDS Lite  in 2006. The systems have the same hardware and play the same games, but the DS Lite includes adjustable screen brightness, a larger stylus, better button design and a lighter weight. As time passes, the DS Lite is increasingly being referred to simply as the DS, because it's more prominent in the marketplace.

Design

We’ll start with the Nintendo DS  (the DS stands for dual screen). This unique design is implemented by a notebook format featuring two vertically stacked screens; the lower of the two is a touch screen. The system features the standard directional pad, A, B, X and Y buttons along with two shoulder buttons. The layout should feel familiar for those who have toyed around with Nintendo’s earlier console, the Super Nintendo . Make a note that the DS is being phased out in favor of the streamlined DS Lite . The revised hardware features the same functionality as the original but is much lighter and smaller in its dimensions.

The more traditional Nintendo GameBoy franchise is still very much alive in kicking with its latest iteration, the GameBoy Advance , which is now in its third design phase with the GameBoy Micro . The Micro is easily the smallest handheld ever created as its dimensions are a tiny four inches wide and two inches tall, or roughly the same size as an NES controller. The standard controller configuration of two action buttons and a directional pad still apply. There’s also the GameBoy Advance SP , which was the first of Nintendo’s handhelds to apply a foldable clamshell design. The SP (short for "special") is the second design of the original GameBoy Advance -- commonly referred to as the GBA.

Sony has entered the handheld war with its stylish PSP , which stands for Playstation Portable. The system sports a gorgeous TFT LCD screen with a 16:9 aspect ratio, in other words you’ll be able to watch movies in widescreen format. The controller configuration is similar to the original Playstation controller (sans analogue sticks which came later in the console’s life cycle) in that it uses the standard circle, X, square and triangle action buttons along with a directional pad and two shoulder buttons.

Cost

This is likely the heaviest factor to be weighed by most consumers and in this regard Nintendo has the edge. The Game Boy Advance SP and the Game Boy Micro currently sell for £70, the Nintendo DS costs £85 and the DS Lite costs roughly £95. On the opposite side of the spectrum, the Sony PSP is £150. The gap is closing, but for the budget-minded consumer Nintendo’s systems are still the way to go.

Related Buying Guides

Nintendo DS Lite

Sony's PSP