Personal, portable video gaming has grown by leaps and bounds in the past several years. I remember when the hottest new portable gaming system was the Nintendo Gameboy. You could play all sorts of games in a weird greenish greyscale — and if you had a tether cord you could even play games with a friend.
Today, you have so many options for portable gaming, such as a Nintendo Switch, a Nintendo 3DS, cell phones, and tablets. I even have a device that wraps around my cell phone to make it into a game controller complete with multiple buttons, a D-Pad, and thumb sticks!
Everyday Gaming with Cell Phones and Tablets
I am including these together because cell phones and tablets run apps, many of which are games. These are the more simple style of gaming options. You have to be able to do everything with finger swipes instead of a full controller. However, even that is becoming less and less of a limitation. I recently won a Glap device through the app Marvel Future Fight. You place your cell phone into the device, connect the bluetooth, and now you have a handheld gaming system complete with all the standard controller buttons. Now I can play games such as Fortnite Mobile as if I were playing on a console.
The Hard-to-Find PS Vita
The PlayStation Vita will no longer be produced after this year, but it does allow players to access many of their PlayStation games. When gamers purchased PlayStation 3 or 4 games, they also got Vita versions included. This portable device has high-resolution graphics and can fit into your pocket. The PS Vita also has higher speeds and better graphical detail than a 3DS. Yet, you will have to go on a scouting mission to find one — and quick before it is gone.
The All-Around Fun Nintendo 3DS
Speaking of the 3DS, it is one of the most popular portable platforms around. It has many factors in its favor. This is the least expensive option. It has a ton of games. You can wirelessly connect to friends for online play. It is also a very rugged device, which is perfect for smaller kids just getting into gaming. Nintendo also has the brand recognition (and gaming library!) of being a very family-friendly gaming system. In our house, we have two of these devices and have a great time playing all sorts of games head to head.
As a side note, there is even a more inexpensive option in the Nintendo 2DS. This device does away with the 3D option and does not fold up, but it will play all the games that are available in the Nintendo 3DS library.
The Best of Both Worlds with the Nintendo Switch
For my money, the Nintendo Switch is the best portable gaming system around. I would also like to stress the word “money,” because this is a $300 system — no small chunk of change. You do get a ton of features with it though. There is a decent library of gaming titles out. There is the option to have two people play on a switch at the same time just by giving each player one of the detachable Joy-Cons. For four players, you need to be connected to a large TV so everyone can see their characters. You can take your games anywhere and they are the same no matter if you are playing on a TV or on the handheld unit itself. With Nintendo Switch Online, a subscription service that costs $20 a year, you have access to a library of classic games, plus you can connect with other players for online play.
The New Nintendo Switch Lite
Newly announced, the Nintendo Switch Lite even has the tagline that it is dedicated to handheld play! The Nintendo Switch Lite will be available in three colors: yellow, grey, and turquoise. The new system will be available this fall at a $199 price point. The Joy-Cons are no longer detachable, there is no dock included in the box, and this will not connect to a TV. The system will play all Nintendo Switch games except for those that require Joy-Cons to be removed, such as Mario Party and Nintendo Labo.
Look to the Future with Project xCloud
Coming later this year gamers will be able to play their Xbox games on a cell phone while using a standard Xbox controller that is connected via bluetooth. This will allow gamers to play their entire Xbox library of games on their cell phones whenever and wherever they want.
Take the Google Stadia Anywhere
While essentially not a portable solution, Google Stadia will allow you to play anywhere that you have access to a TV with an HDMI port and a wireless network. There is no console for this system — just a controller and a Google Chromecast Ultra. This service will launch later this year. You can pre-order a founders pack for $129 that will get you a controller and a Google Chromecast Ultra. There will also be a monthly fee for the service.
Whatever your favorite gaming platform is, there is a portable one for you!