From Microvision to Steam Deck: A Hand Held History!

From Microvision to Steam Deck: A Hand Held History!

Handheld gaming consoles have come a long way since their inception in the 1970s. These portable gaming devices have provided gamers with the ability to play their favourite games on-the-go, making gaming more accessible and convenient than ever before. From the early days of the Microvision to the latest and greatest Steam Deck, each console has its own unique history and impact on the gaming industry.

The Microvision, released in 1979, was the first handheld gaming console. It was created by Milton Bradley, and although it had a small library of games, it set the stage for the future of handheld gaming. The device had a monochrome display and interchangeable cartridges, which allowed for a variety of games to be played on a single device.

In 1989, Nintendo released their iconic Game Boy, which is still recognised as one of the most successful handheld consoles in history. It was the first console to include a directional pad for gameplay, and it was also the first to feature a long-lasting battery life. The Game Boy's library of games grew quickly, and it became a cultural phenomenon, with games like Tetris and Super Mario Land becoming household names.

The Atari Lynx was released in 1989 as well, and it was the first handheld console to feature a colour display. The device also had a unique ergonomic design, with the screen being placed in the centre of the device, allowing for both left and right-handed play. However, due to high manufacturing costs and competition from the Game Boy, the Atari Lynx was not as successful as hoped.

Sega entered the handheld console market in 1991 with their Game Gear. It featured a backlit colour display, and its library of games was similar to that of the Sega Genesis, making it a popular choice for Sega fans. However, its short battery life and high cost compared to the Game Boy ultimately led to its downfall.

In 1991, NEC released the TurboExpress, a handheld version of their TurboGrafx-16 console. It was the first handheld console to include a TV tuner, allowing for gameplay on the go. However, its high price tag and limited library of games made it less popular than other consoles on the market.

The Sega Nomad, released in 1995, was essentially a portable version of the Sega Genesis. It was capable of playing Genesis cartridges, and it featured a full-color display. However, its high cost and short battery life made it less popular than other handheld consoles at the time.

The Neo Geo Pocket, released in 1998 by SNK, was a handheld console designed for arcade-style gameplay. It had a unique clicky joystick and a small library of games, but its limited success was due to competition from the Game Boy and lack of third-party support.

In 2001, Nintendo released the Game Boy Advance, which featured a larger, backlit colour screen and improved graphics over its predecessor. Its library of games was vast and diverse, including classics like Super Mario World and The Legend of Zelda. The Game Boy Advance was a huge success, with over 81 million units sold worldwide.

In 2003, Nokia attempted to enter the handheld console market with their N-Gage device. It was a hybrid of a phone and a gaming device, with the ability to make calls and play games. However, its awkward design and limited library of games made it a commercial failure.

Nintendo released their dual-screen Nintendo DS in 2004, which quickly became one of the most popular handheld consoles of all time. Its touch screen allowed for unique gameplay experiences, and its library of games included classics like Animal Crossing and Brain Age. The Nintendo DS sold over 154 million units worldwide.

Sony entered the handheld console market in 2005 with their PlayStation Portable (PSP). It featured impressive graphics and a large library of games, including popular titles like Grand Theft Auto and Metal Gear Solid. The PSP also had multimedia capabilities, including the ability to play movies and music. While it wasn't as successful as the Nintendo DS, the PSP still sold over 80 million units worldwide.

Nintendo followed up the success of the DS with the release of the Nintendo 3DS in 2011. It featured 3D graphics without the need for glasses, and its library of games included remakes of classic titles like The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time and Super Mario 64. The 3DS sold over 75 million units worldwide, cementing Nintendo's dominance in the handheld console market.

In 2012, Sony released their follow-up to the PSP, the PlayStation Vita. It featured impressive graphics and a touch screen, and it had a large library of games, including popular franchises like Uncharted and Assassin's Creed. However, the Vita struggled to find a wide audience, and it was ultimately discontinued in 2019.

In 2012, SNK released the Neo Geo X, a handheld console that included a collection of classic Neo Geo games. While it was marketed as a nostalgia trip for fans of the original console, its high price and limited library of games made it less appealing to the wider gaming audience.

In 2013, Nvidia released the Shield Portable, a handheld gaming device that featured an Android operating system and the ability to stream PC games from a desktop computer. While it had a small audience, the Shield Portable showcased the potential for streaming games to handheld devices.

In 2016, GamePad Digital released the GPD Win, a handheld device that featured a Windows operating system and the ability to play PC games on the go. It had a small but dedicated fanbase, and it paved the way for future handheld gaming devices with PC capabilities.

Nintendo's latest handheld console, the Nintendo Switch, was released in 2017. It's a hybrid console that can be played both on a TV and in handheld mode, allowing for a seamless gaming experience. Its library of games includes popular franchises like Super Mario, The Legend of Zelda, and Pokémon. The Switch has been a massive success, selling over 84 million units worldwide as of 2021.

The most recent addition to the handheld gaming console market is the Steam Deck, released by Valve Corporation in 2021. It's a handheld device that allows for the playing of PC games on the go, and it has generated a lot of excitement in the gaming community. Its success remains to be seen, but it's clear that handheld gaming consoles will continue to evolve and push the boundaries of what's possible for portable gaming.

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