This week is an open letter to Pocket Gamer magazine followed by a brief historical timeline of Handheld Gaming.
Dear Pocket Gamer,
I picked up a copy of your magazine and very much enjoyed it however, as I reached the end of the magazine I noticed that something was missing. Though your magazine is called Pocket Gamer your coverage does not even make a nod to Classic Handheld Gaming. I checked out your website and found that indeed there are no articles about the subject. This I feel does a grave disservice to your readers. Handheld gaming has been around for almost 30 years and deserves recognition of it’s rich history.
I could forgive you for ignoring the Microvision and most handheld gaming from the 80s however one cannot ignore the importance and relevancy of the original Gameboy. The Gameboy created handheld gaming and by publishing Tetris helped define much of handheld gaming’s landscape even today. Without Tetris’ massive success it is quite easy to conjecture a world where Nintendo failed and went the way of Atari. Without Gameboy the puzzle genre might be a very different place. Without other companies trying to force Nintendo off it’s pedestal, Nintendo might have never innovated. Without Nintendo there would be no PSP.
Classic portables effect on what is happening now aside, classic portable gaming is fascinating. Whether it involves the hack work of Ben Heck or the many retrofits of the original Gameboy there is a rich interest in classic handheld gaming both as an aesthetic and as an experience. From the cultural impact of Pokemon to the tragic tale of Stefan Eriksson there are so many interesting stories about old school games.
Beyond historical consideration old school portable games are fun. I fondly remember playing Tetris on a borrowed Gameboy and years later being wowed playing Zelda on the Gameboy Color. Fighting games on the Neo-Geo Pocket Color are amazing for their perfect simplicity. Any game ever released on the Watura Supervision is befuddlingly bad. Old school game systems are funny and quirky and unique.
Please Pocket Gamer, consider giving some coverage to the game systems of yesteryear.
Milton Bradley releases the first cartridge-based handheld video game system MicroVision. Nothing much happens in portable gaming for the next 10 years.
Nintendo releases the Game Boy system. It's boxy has a lousy screen and is ugly as hell but everyone loves it.
Tetris is arguably the most important handheld game ever. It is released for the Gameboy which sells like crazy.
Atari Lynx is the first color handheld video game system but it does not have Tetris and eats batteries. System will hang around for years wishing it found Tetris first.
Sega releases the Game Gear in
Turbo Express is released which plays TG 16 carts.
Watura Supervision is released along with games like Recycle Design and, Untouchable which perfectly describe the game system.
25 million Gameboys have been sold.
Mega Duck & Cougar Boy game systems are released in
Zelda first appears on a handheld.
94 is a slow year in handheld gaming due to "Grunge". Only game released is "Stop That Roach!" on the Gameboy.
Nintendo releases Virtual Boy. It's totally 3D! Gamers develop a collective migraine.
Game Axe is released which is a pirate handheld Famicom player. Thanks to NES on a chip technology spawns many imitators.
Sega Nomad released. Genesis heads now have excuse to lug their Genesis cartridge collection around with them. System only fits in duffle bags.
Neo Geo Pocket is released in awesome black and white!
Tiger Electronics releases game.com. Someone better have gotten fired!
Sega stops supporting Game Gear format.
Nintendo releases Game Boy Color.
Sony PocketStation is a mem card and a portable game!
Pokemon invade the Gameboy and millions of parents have no idea what the hell their children are talking about.
Games are still being released for the Lynx. Lynx users are like "In your face Nintendo!"
SNK totally copies Nintendo and releases Neo-Geo Pocket Color. Metal slug now fits in your pocket as well as some awesome fighting games.
Wonderswan is released. A couple nerds want it to come out in the
Majesco re-releases the Game Gear. It is called Game Gear Core System.
Neo Geo Pocket releases another Metal slug game then gives up when GBA appears on the horizon.
Nintendo releases the Game Boy Advance handheld system.
Advance Wars, Castlevania: Circle of the Moon, F-Zero, and others are released for GBA. GBA is looking good.
GP32 is released, only a few nerds care. Homebrewers rock.
Wonderswan Crystal is even more beautiful than it’s predecessor. It has a great library of RPGs but all are in japanesse.
GBA gets Zelda and Metroid, bathes in the blood of defeated game systems.
Nokia releases the N-Gage It’s a phone and a game system. Casual gamers don't care. Hardcore gamers care even less.
Puzzle Bobble VS is releases for N-Gage. This game should be impossible to do a bad version of but somehow manages to get an average score of 22%.
Tapwave releases the Zodiac, it's a PDA made for games.
Game Theory Admiral is released which plays famicom games. Nintendo does not seem to care.
Nintendo counters with GBA SP and all the other systems fail.
N-Gage QD is released and still sucks, just not as badly, not nearly as bad as the Gizmondo which would have almost been ok if it was a cell phone and is released next year.
Leisure Suit Larry: Pocket Party is cancled. This is possibly the final nail in the failing N-Gage's coffin. The world breathes a sigh of relief as a game called "Pocket Party" will not be played in public.
Wonderswan stops getting games. Still none in English.
Nintendo releases the Nintendo DS, and Pokemon Mini. This duel strike knocks all other mo-fos out.
Sony releases PSP and handhelds are finally legitimized.
Gizmondo is released, Sticky Balls makes gamers snicker, Colors is canceled and Erickson crashes his Enzo. The End!
EZ Mini is released.
Also released is the GP2X which makes the GP32 nerds screamgasm with delight.
Nintendo can't stop itself and releases a lite version of the GBA SP, and Gameboy micro.
The Nintendo DS Lite ups the sex appeal of Nintendo. Handheld games have officially exploded. Girls, casual gamers, your parents, and jocks officially play video games and carry them around in their pockets.
OneStation brings probably illegal games to savy importers at low prices.
PlayStation Portable Slim & Lite. The battle rages on.