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Gadget flashback – Nintendo handhelds

Is that a DSi XL in your pocket, or are you just pleased to see me? We were pleased to see all of these when they first came out... 1980 – Game &

Is that a DSi XL in your pocket, or are you just pleased to see me? We were pleased to see all of these when they first came out…

1980 – Game & Watch

Give a child a Game & Watch today and it’ll keep him entertained for hours as he fiddles about looking for the elusive cartridge slot. He could save himself the bother by getting his dad to explain that back in the old days if you wanted to play something different, you went out and bought another handheld.

The first dual-screen Game & Watch was this addictive platformer. No one ever explained how that gorilla got all those barrels up to the top of the crane, though.


1989 – Game Boy

When it first appeared, the Game Boy instantly became the must-have gadget of every boy (and plenty of men, too). Its simple monochrome display was no obstacle to a fury of game development that ensured the handheld’s success through to a colour version imaginatively titled Game Boy Colour.

You knew you’d played too much Tetris when you woke up screaming from a nightmare in which huge blocks were crushing you from above. Nothing a quick attempt to beat your high score couldn’t fix, though.


2001 – Game Boy Advance

Billed as the SNES of portable gaming, Game Boy Advance had plenty of power and some neat tricks such as multi-device multiplayer action via the Game Link cable and the ability to swap games without powering down. Even so, it never attained the iconic status of its predecessors or the handheld waiting in the wings…

There was a catch to making the most of this four-player title – you needed four GBAs and enough Game Link cables to network them together. But you had all that, right? [See our Zelda gaming flashback]


2004 – DS

There had been glimpses of Nintendo’s desire to play with the possibilities of different kinds of interaction before, but the DS showed that a touchscreen was not only viable as a control pad, but in many ways an improvement over buttons on handhelds. It slimmed down as the DS Lite, added cameras for the DSi and went large for the DSi XL.

If you start out hating the poppy soundtrack to Elite Beat Agents, you’ll end up wanting to go to Jay Kay’s house and cut the brakes on his Lamborghini before he can make any more Jamiroquai songs. Sadly, you’ll be too addicted to EBA’s quirky gameplay to bother.


2011 – 3DS

The as-yet unreleased 3DS is the next chapter in Ninty’s handheld history  and uses a lenticular display to do away with the need for glasses. With a brace of rear-mounted cams, it can even snap 3D pics. There’s also a motion sensor, a gyroscope and a slide pad for ananogue control. And there will be tons of ace titles, many of them too odd to fathom. Time will prove us right…

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