Waypoint Weeklies: Handhelds We Love

Absolutely loved Final Fantasy Legend II and Gargoyle’s Quest on the original GameBoy. That was a special console. The GBA SP was my official between classes break in college, so that has some good memories too.

I saved up for months to get a Sega Game Gear. It had a good Sonic. It had a very bad Mortal Kombat. It had Rygar, and I loved Rygar in theory, but not a whole lot in practice. Probably the best thing about the Game Gear is I get to say I played one.

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Used the shit out of my gameboy pocket and color. They would have been the perfect handheld if they had backlights. I didn’t get another handheld until the gba SP, so I was really late onto the gba library. Didn’t really play that many gba games tbh. I just got a 2ds xl last year and have been really enjoying exploring the ds library (got it originally for the ace attorney games after playing the hd trilogy on switch)

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If I were going on overall quality of games, I would say the 3DS but the handheld that is my most loved would have to be the Game Boy Color. I got it bundled with Pokemon Red at a Costco from my mom as an early birthday present. The power went out while we were there, and we had to wait in line for a long while for it to come back up so they could get the registers working again. Thinking nothing of it, we got in the car and started home, only to hear on the radio that a tornado had touched down like 15 blocks from where we were, which was unprecedented. To this day it’s the only tornado to touch down in my hometown in my lifetime!

Anyways, when I was a kid, I wasn’t allowed to play video games! Luckily, my boomer parents didn’t really understand much about games (other than that they rotted kids brains), and the Game Boy didn’t really fit their schema. When I got the console, I played Pokemon Red over and over again under the covers with a flashlight I swiped from my dad’s glove compartment. My access to games was very limited, but I was hooked! I played Super Mario Brothers when I got that for Christmas the same year, which seemed quaint compared to what I heard about Mario 64 at school, but was enthralling none the less. Link’s Awakening was another game I loved. But maybe most formative gaming experience on the GBC was all the tie in platformers for Disney movies that my parents bought me. Those games were HARD, and like in the bad way. The jump was terrible, and the developers crammed as many pixels as they could to make the characters recognizable, leaving barely enough screen space to see the platform ahead of you, let alone the one after that. I toiled with these games for hours and hours. What was I supposed to do? Just not play games? These were the only ones I could get! So my initial frustrations wore down, and eventually I could beat my head against the wall until I made it through the levels with brute force. Even nowI can put up with a lot of bad mechanics if I find something about the game compelling. I wonder if endless hours with bad Game Boy platformers contributed to that!

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I’m a huge fan of the DSi, it remains to this day my favourite way to play DS games. It’s super slim, the buttons are nice and clicky, and the screen is really nice. My only gripe is the lack of Game Boy cartridge slot. I get that it would change the form factor a bit, but damn, that’s the only thing missing for me. Doesn’t help that I never got a GBA SP, so my best options to play Game Boy games were my base GBA or my launch DS.

I’m curious to hear what other people think about Valkyrie Profile. I recently tried it on PSP and it has some interesting stuff going on, but I felt like it didn’t quite hold together and the combat wasn’t as engaging as I hoped.