Is classic handheld gaming history?

Whether GameBoy, PlayStation Portable or Nintendo 3DS – mobile game consoles used to be the talk of the town – meanwhile they have all been discontinued. So is classic handheld gaming a thing of the past? There are different opinions on this in the atechbook editorial team. How do you see it?

One topic, two opinions. While for atechbook editor Andreas classic handheld gaming is unfortunately dead, editor Rita sees it differently. You can find the arguments either in the video or for reading and voting here in the article:

Rita: “Mobile game consoles are far from dead!”

Have smartphones replaced mobile game consoles? For me, the answer to this question is a clear no! After all, Nintendo itself has the counterexample in its lineup with the Switch. The Switch and the new Switch OLED are clearly marketed as hybrid consoles. That means they are both – a console for the TV and for the hand. And I also have a counter-argument for doubters who say that using the Switch on a TV does not make it a purely mobile gaming console. And that is the Switch Lite. The smaller version of the Switch is clearly a handheld. It cannot be used on the TV, nor can the Joy-Cons be removed.

Compared to previous mobile game consoles, the Switch Lite isn’t quite as compact, but it doesn’t have to be. Like current smartphones, the demand for larger screens has increased over time for game consoles. The New Nintendo 3D XL comes to mind. At the same time, however, smartphones are not an alternative for the classic console despite their large screens and good technical equipment with partly very good graphics units.

Nintendo Switch vs. Switch Lite – which one is right for me?

Andi: “Handheld gaming no longer exists!”

For me, the era of handheld gaming has come to an end with the discontinuation of the Nindendo 3DS series. Because for me, handheld gaming is something completely different from mobile gaming. It’s not just gaming on the go for me. Handhelds and especially their games had their own flair. They were made for the mobile gaming experience. You could jump in and turn it off at any time. Still, you could follow the stories just fine. Handheld gaming brought us milestones like Pokémon or Advanced Wars and made Tetris a big global success in the first place.

The Nintendo Switch cannot do that for me as a hybrid console. The games are not designed for on the go. They are stationary games that you can take with you. But I don’t need super graphics on the handheld, I want suitable game concepts.

We both agree: smartphone gaming is not an alternative

First of all, there are not yet classic console games for iOS and Android. Most mobile games are mostly designed for an entertaining pastime and cannot compete with the huge game worlds and good graphics of the titles for conventional game consoles. The best example here is the versions of Super Mario, Animal Crossing and Pokémon, which have nothing in common with the big games from Nintendo.

Secondly, smartphones are not well equipped for gaming in my opinion. Sure, there are real gaming smartphones with good graphics and cooling systems nowadays. Accessories like gamepads are also offered, which should make the gaming experience more like that of a classic gaming console. Nevertheless, smartphones are first and foremost phones with Internet access. The lack of space alone makes it difficult to combine all smartphone components plus the adaptations for gaming in one device. And so it ends up being a compromise.

Many smartphones are heavily stressed during gaming and run hot accordingly quickly. They need special software that prevents notifications or calls from popping up during a game. All of this is less than ideal. Furthermore, the controls are not really intuitive even with a gamepad.