Sometimes when I look at portable video games like the PlayStation Vita and the Nintendo DS series, I can’t help but reminisce about the original handheld systems back in the ‘90’s.
My first handheld game console was the Nintendo Game Boy, which was a Christmas present from my parents in 1994. This on-the-go device was about 3-4 times the size of the original IPhone, could only play games and it used 4 AA batteries. To date itself even more, the Game Boy was only in black and white and could not display color. These specs may not sound great now but it was still amazing for its time.
Everyone was used to playing on a TV so the ability to take that anywhere excited people of all ages. Of course, developers had to take this technology to the next step.
A few years later, the world was introduced to Pokemon.
One of the longest running cartoons, most established gaming franchises and product cash cow, Pokemon started out on an 8 bit console. This game spoke directly to children because it focused on a young boy training special animals to win competitions to one day be called The Master Trainer. This was right up everyone’s alley.
With the great success of this game, Nintendo continued to create bigger and better handhelds. Owners were given the ability to play with other Game Boy users by way of a link-up cable. At the dawn of the new millennium, Game Boy was upgraded to color.
Now Nintendo wasn’t the only one making portable games, Sega had the less popular Game Gear on the market at the same time.
Unfortunately, due to the short battery life, lack of original titles and weak support from Sega, the console never surpassed the Game Boy.
I wanted to write about some of the history of handheld games because it fascinates me how far we have come. I played the Game Boy when I was 9 and barely a decade later people are playing advanced games on a cell phone. Batteries were not rechargeable and there was no Internet connectivity.
I remember when you could go into a pawn shop and find rare games for cheap because no one knew the value except for dedicated players. At school, everyone had at least three games they carried in their pocket so they could swap with friends.
Plus no one had to worry about scratching the individual games because they were cartridges. You had to clean them often but they lasted a long time.
So the next time you are playing a game on a mobile device, remember where it all came from. You just might get a good laugh out of it.
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