I’ve played on nearly every Nintendo handheld that’s been released in America, from the Game Boy Color to the 3DS. I’ve played on the Sony PSP and dabbled with the Vita. I’ve played on the N64, the original Playstation, the PS3, the Xbox 360, the Wii, and the Wii U, and yet I have and probably always will have a strong preference for handhelds.
I don’t completely hate consoles. I don’t. I bought a PS3 a few months ago, and I spent quite some time playing Heavy Rain and inFamous. The Wii is my guilty pleasure, and I will confess to spending hours of my life obsessively playing Brawl and Super Mario Kart at two in the morning just to train and practice so I would come out victorious against all my friends and family.
To me, the main differences between consoles and handhelds are privacy, game lineup, cost, and multiplayer. There are many other factors people take into consideration, including storage, media use, convenience, speed, and graphics. However, those values aren’t shared by everyone, and as a gamer who uses video game systems primarily as video game systems and nothing more, those extras are unnecessary to me. As an example, I don’t care for multiplayer. It is the one feature I never look at in any game, yet it is probably one of the most important things that most gamers want out of any game or system.
Multiplayer has existed since the dawn of time (or at least very nearly so) in the form of game link cables, multiple controllers, and local connections. Later, the introduction of wireless internet caused a huge increase in multiplayer and social games, which is a tactic that has been heavily exploited by Zynga to bring as many people to their games as possible. When it concerns consoles or handhelds, consoles take the cake, pie, and ice-cream for multiplayer games. The plethora of headsets and the numerous games created specifically for multiplayer are clear indications of this. People were playing multiplayer games on consoles with multiple controllers long before the concept even entered the handheld world. Yet lately, handhelds are able to stand their own for casual online and local multiplayer; just don’t expect any MMORPGs to enter the handheld’s arsenal any time soon.
Now let’s discuss privacy. There’s nothing like hearing “Wow, how could you miss that shot when it was right in front of you?” when someone walking through the living room sees you miss a few shots and die tragically in a pit of fire. The privacy factor doesn’t play a huge role in everyone’s lives; however, I hold handhelds so dear to my heart precisely because no one can watch me play. It’s my enjoyment, my adventure, my RPG. As much as it can be fun to play games in which everyone can see you scream and thrash on the living room couch, it is very different playing a solo game on the big screen which you’d prefer to play in your own space on your own time.
Game lineup is a difficult thing to assess and depends entirely on what games people enjoy. Consoles dominate on multiplayer games, particularly first and third person shooters. Yet the PS3 fares extremely well with RPGs. Where else are you going to find Valkyria Chronicles or Ni No Kuni? But where are you going to find a decent game of Pokemon or Dragon Quest on a console? The release of the PSP slightly bridged the gap between video games on consoles and handhelds. Popular games such as Grand Theft Auto, Persona 3, and God of War were given titles on the handheld, often with additional content to usually positive reception. Even better, the PSP sold for a significantly lower price than the PS3, and UMD games could be bought at a fraction of the price of their originals. However, that doesn’t mean all ports were perfect; each game varied in quality ranging from graphics, replay value, additional content, and soundtracks, and weren’t as smooth and polished as they could have been.
The cost to pay for consoles or handhelds goes handhelds, hands down. The main purpose of handhelds is to play video games, although additional features such as cameras, online use, video streaming, and demo stores have recently graced the handheld world. Release prices for anything are fairly pricey, yet that goes double for consoles. As an example, Nintendo’s original DS sold for $149.99 on the day of its release, while the Wii was sold for $249.99 on launch day. However, consoles can be used for a long list of other things, such as storage and media use.
But with all of this, why do I still prefer handhelds? Consoles have multimedia use, bigger storage, a superb list of video games, overall better graphics, and more features. Why would I still go for the clearly inferior handheld? Well, many people underestimate the handheld. Handhelds are small, functional, pack a powerful punch, and they can definitely stand their own. I like being able to have something so compact that it fits in my pocket. I like being able to take it out when I’m in the car or at the airport. I like to play video games without leaving my bed, without having to turn on all these things and hook up all these other things just to play a game that other people might end up commenting on. I like being able to play hanging upside down, to the side, two inches from the ground with my head a little lopsided without having strain my neck or turn my head a certain way to look at the TV.
At the end of the day, however, it depends ultimately on the gamer and what he or she likes. Handhelds or consoles? Which do you think is better? Which do you prefer? And what do you think are the pros and cons of each? Comment below!