The obvious benefit of handheld gaming is that these consoles offer mobility and portability unmatched in traditional consoles. However, handhelds have become so sophisticated that many transcend the traditional expectations of what a console that fits in our pocket ought to do. Handhelds are still great for bus rides and down time in between class, but are now also capable of a myriad of other functionalities, including television display, in-person cooperative play, and expandability. In this article, we take a look at some of the most popular handheld gaming consoles for 2018 and discuss the awesome features these devices possess.
As we discussed in our previous article in regards to Super Mario Party, the Nintendo Switch is an impressive console that has improved dramatically on features its predecessors pioneered. The Switch, however, is also a handheld console, seamlessly transitioning from television display to utilizing a portable screen. Perhaps even more impressive is the capability the controllers provide; although you can use the Switch like a regular handheld console, holding each side with both hands and gaming as a single player, the Joy-Cons can be removed from the base system itself and distributed to more than one player, enabling cooperative play from the handheld device itself. This innovated feature, in addition to others, has elevated the Switch to be one of the best handheld devices on the year.
Although the Vita was released almost six years ago, PlayStation’s latest handheld is still one of the most popular in 2018. This handheld has a standard PlayStation controller layout, with two joysticks, a D-pad, and a diamond-array of four buttons, with the important distinction of also having a 5-inch screen centered between the controls. For gameplay, the Vita gives players access to an enormous video game library while on the move, including PS One era games, indie games, and console-specific titles. The PlayStation Vita also allows you to stream a number of PS4 games while not at home. Additionally, the Vita has access to the PlayStation Store, an app and movie portal that allows you to use your Vita for entertainment beyond gaming itself. Although somewhat expensive for a handheld, the Vita maintains strong positive reviews after years of circulation, and is definitely still one of the most popular handhelds of 2018.
For those with a flair for retro gaming, the Arcade Ultimate Portable can be an excellent addition to your handheld console collection. Reminiscent of the old, six-battery Sega Game Gear from the 90s, this handheld console allows you access to some of the most classic Genesis-era games wherever your travels may take you. The hardware comes with 80 available games, including a couple of titles from the Sonic, Golden Axe, and Streets of Rage series, but the Arcade Ultimate is also equipped to play ROMs from an SD card, allowing you to create a ridiculously large mobile game library. Although the hardware is not as exceptional as the Vita or the Switch, and many of the features these other handheld consoles offer are not present, the Arcade Ultimate is a niche product that comes at a fraction of the cost of these other devices. More popular in Asia and Europe than in America, this still might be a dark horse for one of the more popular handheld consoles building up to Christmas.
Handheld consoles have, in many ways, found their own place in the larger world of console gaming. The Switch offers a two-in-one solution, while the Vita trends more towards the functionality of a mobile device. Niche products like the Arcade Ultimate move in an entirely opposite direction, offering a retro gaming experience that is casual, light-hearted and inexpensive. With their ability to offer a variety of experiences to users, or one very specific experience, these handhelds are some of the most popular available in 2018.