Handheld systems have been around for many decades. These systems offered games for people to enjoy wherever they went. However, over the past few years these systems seem to have fallen off the radar. Which begs the question: do these systems still matter?
Meaning of a Handheld
The general idea of these pocket sized systems is for people to play their games on the go. This idea back in the late ’80s and ’90s was unreal. With this idea came gaming companies who’d capitalize on this by making handheld systems of their own. From that point on, these systems has been a part of the gaming world. We’ve witnessed systems like the Nintendo DS, Game Boy, PlayStation Portable, and many more. These systems have provided great games that many people played as kids and still enjoy them now. As good as they were, there were some drawbacks to these systems.
These systems had to sacrifice a few components to make this experience possible. One of the issues with handhelds was the graphics. Each system was built differently and not every game released on these systems had bad graphics. However, compared to home consoles, they’re not as good. One example I always think of is when Nintendo remade Super Mario 64 for the Nintendo DS. The game looks fine, but it could’ve been visually beautiful if it was made for a home console.
We’re currently in an age of gaming where graphics are set at a higher standard. Consoles like the PS4 and Xbox One produce amazing graphics. The hardware these consoles have are strong and can make any game run and look smooth. Handhelds can’t produce graphics as well because the same hardware these home consoles use are too powerful to be made for handhelds. How a game looks is almost as important as how well it plays. This is a mindset most developers and players think when it comes to games. It’s a mindset like this that handheld systems don’t mix well with because of its limitations.
Handheld Systems Now
Nintendo has dominated the handheld market for years. They produced more handheld systems than any other company. Yet even they are letting go of the handheld market to a degree. They did release the Nintendo Switch Lite last summer and it’s doing well. However, this system is just a smaller version of the Switch and it’s not as powerful. The Switch Lite doesn’t offer much value compared to the Switch home console.
On top of that, both systems provide the same games, and the Switch home console is portable as well. This makes it harder for the Switch Lite to be valuable because it doesn’t have any exclusives or unique features compared to the Switch. Companies that did capitalize on making handheld systems don’t make them anymore. The closest competition Nintendo has had in the handheld market was Sony, and even they don’t produce new handheld systems anymore.
I think handheld systems are a dying system. The gaming industry is so concerned about graphics and performance. Handheld systems can perform these details, but not as well as home consoles. Outside of Nintendo, rarely any other gaming company provides handheld systems anymore. Even with the introduction of the Switch Lite, it’s simply a downgrade of the Nintendo Switch, a downgrade I think few people would be willing to get. Maybe in the future, handheld systems will become as powerful as home consoles. I enjoyed these handheld systems, but I think they’re a system of the past.