Street Smarts — Cost-Efficient Handhelds

Posted on Dec 02 2013

Street Smarts Cost Efficient Handhelds

Video games are expensive. Can we all agree on that? Video games are expensive despite the increasing availability and decreased cost of parts. Speed, processing power, graphics, and capabilities have been expanded on and explored, resulting in handhelds that can pack a huge punch despite their small size.

However, all of that comes at a price, and the result is that the cost of video games has actually increased in some areas and remained steady in others. The cost of the Gameboy SP was roughly $100 at the time of its release, and now the Nintendo 3DS – with 3D capabilities, touch screen, wi-fi connectivity, improved graphics, and a huge wealth of games – can cost anywhere from $150 to $200. At the same time, the cost of a 20 GB PS3 was $499 at the time of its release, compared to the PS4, which was $399 on launch day.

So how would you go about bargain gaming? Settle for pre-owned games? Go for the 2DS? Or you could buy old handhelds that no one plays anymore. Each comes with its own pros and cons, but the most cost efficient handheld to currently own would either be the 2DS or PSP.


Now, there are a number of factors to consider in regards to both, and the 2DS is not the 3DS; however, in terms of bargain gaming, the 2DS is at a comfortable price of $130 and remains a gateway to all the games the 3DS has to offer, including multiplayer features and being able to interact with users on a daily basis. Furthermore, the 2DS has a huge wealth of games that spans across all genres. The one glaring exception to the 2DS is its inability to portray images in 3D. If multiplayer and a wide genre of games are important to you, then the 2DS is the way to go. However, the cost of games is something to be mindful of, as the price can climb up to $40 each.

God of War

On the other hand, the PSP is still a solid handheld, and currently being sold for roughly $100. However, it lacks strong multiplayer features due to the small number of people who currently play the PSP. However, the quality of quite a few of its games are undeniable, including Persona 3 Portable and Tactics Ogre. Even better, Sony re-released a number of their games with a red “Greatest Hits” label, resulting in dozens of games being sold at roughly $10 each. However, the PSP doesn’t have a wide assortment of games, and most games are limited to RPGs. Games in other genres do exist, however, such as Sid Meier’s Pirates and Harvest Moon: Hero of Leaf Valley. A potential additive to cost is the memory card that needs to be bought to be able to save games. All in all, the PSP is still a handheld to consider despite its age. However, the PSP does cater more to specific individuals, while the 2DS is able to reach out to a wider audience.

How do you bargain shop for games? What do you think is currently the most cost efficient handheld or system to own?

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  • pepperwright December 2, 2013 at 7:10 PM

    I don’t typically have a large budget for gaming so I tend to buy all of my games used at a local used disc shop. As for the type of handheld I tend to go with an older generation. I currently own a GBA and DS lite.
    Overall the most cost effective system in my opinion is a gaming computer. The initial cost of a good computer will be higher than most councils but it will remain current much longer with only a few adjustments. I also have had an easier time finding sales for computer games.

    • CrookedStreets December 2, 2013 at 7:26 PM

      The DS Lite is awesome because it can play both DS and Gameboy games. But I’ve noticed that a lot of old, extremely high quality Gameboy games (like some Fire Emblem and Pokemon games) have either bootlegged versions floating around or cost an arm and a leg to buy. I do agree with PC gaming though. It tends to be overlooked because there’s not as much coverage on it compared to handhelds and consoles.

      • pepperwright December 3, 2013 at 1:25 PM

        I would agree that many of the higher quality old games (especially pokemon games) are expensive and do have a number of bootlegs hanging around. That’s why when I buy used I stick to a reliable local shop, rather than going to a large chain shop like a game stop.
        My local shop knows my face and generally what I’m looking for. Plus they’re very fair when it comes to trade-in values. I always tell people who want to buy used to do it at a locally owned shop.

  • Zero Gravity December 4, 2013 at 5:28 AM

    As someone who owned a PSP (twice) I find it’s strong suit lies in it’s RPGs. I never really took it out unless I wanted to play Final Fantasy, Birth By Sleep, or transfer files between my PS3/PS2 and Computer.
    I really wish the UMD took off.

    • CrookedStreets December 4, 2013 at 1:38 PM

      Love the PSP. Huge wealth of RPGs, but you’d have to like that genre to get the most of the handheld. I’m not sure I like the UMD compared to a card though. The UMD would make a whirling sound when loading, and as a whole, I felt games on the PSP took more time to load than on other handhelds or systems (depending on the game, of course.) I’m not sure if the slow load time was specifically because of the UMD, but it’s something I noticed across the board in most games. Still, the PSP was a really great handheld in many respects.

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