- Handheld video game
A handheld video game is a
video gamedesigned for a handheld device. In the past, this primarily meant handheld game consoles such as Nintendo's Game Boyline. In more recent history, mobile games have become popular in calculators, personal digital assistants (PDA), mobile phones, mp3 players, and other similar portable gadgets.
In the past decade, handheld video games currently have become a major sector of the video game market. In 2004 sales of portable software titles exceeded $1 billion in the
United Statesfor the first time, an 11% increase from the previous year. [cite web | title=U.S. 2004 Video Game Annual Report| url=http://www.npdfunworld.com/funServlet?nextpage=pr_body.html&content_id=2076 | accessdate=2005-09-26]
For dedicated handheld games that do not have interchangeable cartridges, disks, etc., or are not reprogrammable, see
handheld electronic games. For games on mobile phones, see mobile games.
Handheld video games grew out of
handheld electronic games that were popular from the 1970s through the mid 1990s. The key factors in contributing to the advance of handheld video games were the increase in processing power, technological advances in liquid crystal displays (LCDs), and the reduction of power requirements. Handheld video games grew immensely in popularity, thanks to the Game Boyreleased in 1989. " Tetris" was considered the "killer app" for the console, and popularized the action puzzle genre.
Due to the portable nature of the platform, the game genres that are popular on
video game consoles are not necessarily the same genres that are popular on handhelds. This is partly due to a constant game of technological catchup for handhelds; they are usually about 1-2 generations behind in terms of graphic capabilities than their AC-powered brethren. In addition, there is a demand to keep the device small, so there are much fewer controls on handhelds than on other systems; this results in games that cannot be as complex. Typically due to the limited time that most users have when on the go, the average gametime duration is much shorter. Hence games that are quick to play, such as sidescrolling platformers and action puzzle games are very popular. It is important to note that there is solid-state storage for handheld titles, whether it be in the form of a memory card, or EEPROM. On the whole, even with the capability to save games, consumers prefer less time-consuming titles. More complex game types, such as adventure or first person shooters, are less popular.
Tetris" ( NintendoGame Boy 1989, Cellphone, Nintendo DS)
* "Columns" (
Sega Game Gear)
Lumines" ( PlayStation Portable2005)
Meteos" ( Nintendo DS)
Super Mario Advance" Series ( Game Boy Advance)
Due to the low technical demands of the turn based, menu driven RPG, they have often found homes on handheld systems, often based on a
console RPG. Those games that have met with the most success have been collection-centered or anime-based RPGs such as:
Pokémon" ( Nintendo Game Boy, Game Boy Advance, Nintendo DS)
Megaman Battle Network"
Dragon Ball Z"
The "Pokémon" series has met with so much success that Nintendo has released special editions of the Game Boy Advance and Game Boy. These bundles had the game systems in exclusive colors (such as
Pikachuyellow) and were bundled with the popular game of the time. Nintendo has reported that over 15 million dollars in sales have been generated by the Pokémon franchise.
Due to the simplistic nature of the video and
arcade games of the 1980s, many classic titles have been re-released in handheld form. For example, the Nintendo e-Readerfor the Game Boy Advanceallowed a small library of classic NES titles to be played on the handheld. e-Reader titles included Excitebikeand Ice Climber.
Classic games have also been released for cellphones, such as the
Intellivisiongame library and arcade classics including " Galaga", " Afterburner" and " Pac-Man". The Apple iPodfeatures two games from the late 1970 and early 1980s: " Breakout" and "Parachute".
Since the release of the
GP32; homebrew and emulated gaming for games previously only playable on living room consoles have magically transformed standard console games from the past into handheld ones. Later, the GBA Movie Playerwas released to allow NES games to be played on the GBA via PocketNESemulator. Subsequent to that, the GP2Xhas been released. Since many emulators and interpreters for classic computer games have been written for GP2X, classic games have gone handheld; even old DOS games have gone handheld on the GP2X on GP2X's version of DOSBox. The PSP however, only supports homebrew and emulation to a minor extent. And that its market share in the homebrew community has been slashed after the release of GP2X.
While not particularly popular on
handheld game consoles, card games such as " Texas Hold 'Em", " Blackjack", and " Solitaire" are extremely popular on cellphones and PDAs.
Final Fantasy Tactics Advance(a Tactical RPG) and the Advance Warsseries are examples of strategy games that has shown popularity for the genre on handhelds. Other games such as Luminous Arc, Heroes of Mana, and popularized strategy games for handhelds even further on the Nintendo DSthanks to its touch screen interface.
Features unique to handheld gaming
Linking to other handhelds
Most handheld systems are capable of linking to others of the same type via a cable that connects two or more handhelds, usually to a maximum of 4. This feature allows both multiplayer gaming and other uses such as item or data transfer between cartridges. The
Atari Lynxsupported connectivity for up to 17 units at once.
N-Gageintroduced wireless connectivity via Bluetooth, allowing multiplayer games between handhelds with no cable. This was also a feature in the Nintendo DSand PSP, using the Wi-Fistandard.
Linking to console games
Transfer Pakallows transfer of data from compatible Game Boy cartridges to their Nintendo 64counterparts: e.g. allowing Pokémon from the Game Boy game to be used in " Pokémon Stadium" for the N64. Similarly, the Game Boy Advance can be linked to the Nintendo GameCubewith the Nintendo GameCube Game Boy Advance cable, which allows the GBA to be used as an extra controller with a second screen. The Nintendo DScan wirelessly link with the Wiiconsole. Likewise, the PSP can connect wirelessly to the PlayStation 3.
On non-dedicated gaming platforms, such as Cellphones, it is important for the game running to not be the highest priority of the hardware/software system. On these devices, the operating system will interrupt the gaming session with something like an incoming call, a scheduling alert, a low-battery warning, etc.
As with traditional video game systems, there are dedicated and console systems. Dedicated handheld video games have a specific set of software are almost always bundled with the hardware unit. However, the release of the
GP2Xhas blurred the difference between "dedicated" and "handheld" since high-capacity user-rewritable solid state memory cards (e.g. SD card) can store ROM images to emulate on emulators ported to the GP2X and that TV-out can be done with the GP2X.
In terms of handheld game consoles, there are two subcategories of systems; ones that are a re-engineered portable version of a set-top console that are compatible with existing cartridges, or new systems and platforms that are exclusively designed and use portable media types.
Sega Nomad, the PSOne, and the Turbo Expressare good examples of re-engineered portable systems, however the PSOne is only semi-portable (i.e. cannot fit in your pocket). The Game Boy Advance, the Sega Game Gear, and Neo Geo Pocketare examples of entirely created platforms, although it should be noted that the Game Boy Advancewas built largely upon the Super Nintendo system architecture and that the Sega Game Gearis a retooled version of the Sega Master System.Fact|date=February 2008
With the increasing convergence of electronic peripherals made possible by rapid technology advancements, handheld video games are now available on a wide variety of platforms, not just exclusive gaming ones. PDAs, although not a gaming platform, had many games, ports or exclusively designed, for the devices. All modern cellphones include and run gaming software, usually Java or
BREWbased. Graphing calculatorgaming is popular among college and high school students. The popular Apple iPodmp3 player includes several bundled games, allows users to download new games from the iTunes Store, and clever enthusiasts have been modifying the software to allow for further gaming utilization. Some mp3 players that do not play games out of the box could be made to do so by installing Rockboxor other alternative firmware. Even some watches, such as the Timex Datalinkare capable of playing games. The website [http://web.archive.org/web/20070320131602/http://www.itplaysdoom.com/ It Plays Doom] (now no longer online; link goes to an archived page) was dedicated to listing all the portable devices currently capable of playing the popular first person shooter; this ever-growing list includes PDAs, digital cameras, and cellphones.
Comparison of handheld gaming consoles
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