Graham's Blog

Handheld Gaming

Jan 7th, 2023

I don’t know if it’s the particular mood I’ve been in, the colder weather, or some combination of the 2, but something about cozying up with a handheld game console has been incredibly appealing lately. My PS5 sits under my TV, streaming the occasional movie or show, and begging me to jump into that Witcher 3 update, or continue playing Tales of Arise. Meanwhile, my Switch Lite is getting all the love.

Generally speaking, I feel like I’ve logged most of the game time over the course of my life on a handheld of some kind, from my GameBoy Pocket, all the way up to the Switch Lite. The first console I ever bought with my own money was a GameBoy Advance SP. Portable gaming is in my blood! (Ok, maybe that’s a touch dramatic…)

That’s not to say I didn’t ever play home consoles. I’ve had every Nintendo system since the SNES–yup, that includes the Wii U–and got into PlayStation around the mid-PS3 era.

The thing is, my parents were divorced by the time I was into gaming, and the home consoles lived at my dad’s house. But I spent a majority of my childhood at my mom’s, and she didn’t want those things around, and I was only allowed to have my GameBoy. To this day, I’m not sure why that was. Maybe because she found it less annoying.

Growing up, console games were a treat I got on the weekend, so most of my afternoons after school were spent playing Pokémon, Super Mario Land 2, Link’s Awakening, and others that I could take this whole blog post listing.

I had some big gaming firsts on handhelds; My first RPG? Pokémon Red. My first Final Fantasy? Final Fantasy IV Advance. My first Zelda? The aforementioned Link’s Awakening. The first game I put 100+ hours into? Pokémon Silver.

Handheld gaming even kept me sane during lockdown in 2020. Let’s not talk about how many hours I logged in Animal Crossing and Fire Emblem Three Houses I logged during that time. Yeah I played some console games–notably, I replayed and re-completed Horizon Zero Dawn–but I practically wore out my original Switch Lite that year.

Maybe there’s something nostalgic about handheld gaming that draws me in when I just want to get cozy, even if I’m playing a newer game that I’m not necessarily nostalgic for. Maybe my brain gets tired of the flashy, blockbuster-level graphics of home consoles, and just longs for something simpler.

Whatever the case, my biggest trivial fear in life is handheld gaming going away, because mobile games do not cut it at all.