Is the Future Mobile?

An Introspective Look at the Evolution of Handheld and Mobile Gaming

Ever think about how the Gameboy was created, or how a game like 4-bit pong could have evolved into a hyper-elaborate, three-dimensional first-person shooter. For the sake of nostalgia, let’s look at some of the developments on our favorite handheld devices over the years.

Microvision (1979)

Some of us are too old for this one (including me). I had to do some digging to discover that the BlockBuster Microvision was the first hand held console that used interchangeable cartridges. Unfortunately, the Microvision was short lived lasting only two years due to its many flaws. Only 12 titles ever made it to the market for the Microvision.

Nintendo GameBoy (1990) & GameBoy Color (1998) & Gameboy Advanced (2001)

The truest form of nostalgia I can think of. Although all three represent three different periods in my childhood, I grouped them together because their games were very similar. The sheer hours of gameplay my GameBoy harbored should’ve blown it up much like Samsung Phone chips did to Samsung phones. I still recall all the nights I stayed up playing Pokémon under the sheets past my curfew. This is still my personal favorite gaming console to ever release (specifically the color because Pokémon Crystal).


Nokia 5110 (1998)

Whether you had this model, a variant, or a knock-off, everyone seems to have stumbled upon this phone at one point or another in the late 90s. If you had a holster to carry it, you were THE cool kid. If you remember, you can play snake on this phone.

Nokia N-Gage (2003)

The 5110 was debatably a gaming device, but Nokia undoubtably brought the gaming device and phone in unison with the N-Gage, however some of you might know it by its original development name: The Nokia Starship. This device sold incredibly well with 58 titles including X-Men, Warhammer 40K and Fifa. It later saw a sequel in 2007.

Nintendo DS (2004) & Nintendo DS Lite (2006)

This was a big deal. Integrating wi-fi into a handheld device so you can battle against your friends was the best idea since sliced bread. The DS was a major success, because of its elaborate game selection, and it greatly inspired Nintendo devices were seeing today (but we’ll get to that).

iPhone 4 (2010)

You might be wondering what the iPhone 4 is doing on this list. But think about it, the App Store has a section dedicated to gaming apps. Whether you played angry birds or fruit ninja while waiting for a bus, or downloaded more intense multiplayer games and texted your friends to join, you were still gaming on your phone.





Nintendo 3DS (2011)

On top of the DS series arguably having the best game selection of any Nintendo console, they were about to give these games the option to be played in 3D! An idea that seemed really exciting pre-release, but in practice, it was kind of a flop. The 3D feature was a major strain on your eyes and drained a ton of battery. Many players opted to use the 2D option of games instead.

Nintendo Switch (2017)

This is arguably Nintendo’s take at the mobile device. Of course you can’t make calls on it, but in one of the commercials, the actress is shown placing the Switch in her purse as if it was a cellphone. This device is just getting better with time as well. It’s the fastest selling gaming console beating PS4 and Xbox One sales. In addition, Super Smash Bros is coming out in December and I’ll probably buy the Switch for just that game.


IPhone X (2017) & Samsung Galaxy S9 (2018)
Iphone X
Samsung Galaxy S9 & S9+

These are the two most popular phones in the world and the two most popular gaming devices in the world. Although gaming is not the primary function of these phones, much more people have this than a Nintendo handheld device. Apple’s iOS platform is the world’s most popular platform for playing games.

Five years from now

Our minds tend to gravitate towards Virtual Reality (VR) when we think about what gaming will be like in the near future. But will people really whip out a VR headset on their way to work while taking the train in a similar fashion that one would game on a Nintendo Switch or an iPhone X nowadays? Personally, I don’t think so, because of the awkwardness of a VR headset (and you don’t want to miss your stop). However, I can see high end AAA shooters making their way over to the ever-increasing-in-size smartphones (with greater battery life to support these games) and possibly to Nintendo handhelds as well. As the modern world is progressing we’re seeing more of a shift to mobile gaming than ever because people are gaming on the go. We’ve come a long way since Tetris!

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