What's a good portable console to burn my public transportation hours with?
November 30, 2007 6:30 AM   Subscribe

Recommend me a (cheap) handheld gaming console!

I currently spend up to 2 hours a day in public transport and my job involves sitting unsupervised waiting for the phone to ring (and sometimes I only rings about maybe once an hour).

So I want to get into some hand held gaming. Since I don't make a whole heap of cash currently a PSP is largely out of the question.

What I've had in mind was something along the lines of a Gameboy Colour, the retro (fan boy) aesthetic is highly appealing, and it's still playable after playing HL2 all weekend, since it's not entirely monochrome. But how does the Gameboy Advance stack up though? Or perhaps Nintendo DS? The appeal of the original gameboy format is there's probably a very large library of very cheap games floating around which I could play, heck even Pokemon would help me survive the weekend shift.

Preferably the games would be more engrossing and possibly even mentally exercising than playing tetris style games on my mobile.
posted by chrisbucks to Technology (29 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
 
DS is great, and can play old GBA games as well as its own newer kind. As you say, those are all in the 99 cent bin.

No-brainer call for me. DS.
posted by rokusan at 6:36 AM on November 30, 2007


I also highly recommend the DS. I personally own both the PSP and the DS, and I find that the DS is easier to just pick up and play, has a great mix of games (as it does both DS and GBA games) and its not terribly expensive... especially if you pick up one used.

The only thing that I think the PSP has over the DS is that if yu put a custom (read: hacked) firmware on it you can play all sorts of emulators (e.g. NES, Super NES, Genesis, and even original Playstation games) on it. But all said, I'd still recommend going with the DS.
posted by tundro at 6:40 AM on November 30, 2007


I am not much of a handheld gamer, but I like the DS too, even though I basically only use it to play Brain Age. Perfect if you're serious about the "mentally exercising" bit.
posted by cabingirl at 6:44 AM on November 30, 2007


Another vote for the DS.
posted by slater at 6:45 AM on November 30, 2007


DS all the way baby. You could probably get a used one somewhere for cheap.
posted by fallenposters at 6:47 AM on November 30, 2007


I would highly recommend the DS as well. It's a fantastic system with some fantastic games.

Also, if you're lucky, you can find the GBA Micro at Kmart on clearance for $30. It's easily the best form factor of the three GBA iterations.
posted by mealy-mouthed at 6:48 AM on November 30, 2007


Buy an old Palm handheld -- maybe $40 for a usable colour rechargable one, and load it up. There's thousands of games for free or nearly so. Bonus: book reader, appointments, etc.
posted by seanmpuckett at 6:49 AM on November 30, 2007


The PSP is currently the same price as the DS if you look in the right places. And even new it is not much more expensive. You can play video, listen to music, browse the web, watch your home cable via location free. But if you want a simple mini-game device, then go get a DS.
posted by lovejones at 6:51 AM on November 30, 2007


I'd recommend the DS too. The only caveat is that you can't play original game boy games on the DS. You can play Game Boy Advance games and DS games on the DS, but not the really old-school stuff.
posted by JDHarper at 6:52 AM on November 30, 2007


Nthing DS.

I still load up my Toaster-Boy-era Mario Bros. and kick it old school. After blowing on the cart, natch.
posted by cowbellemoo at 6:54 AM on November 30, 2007


not the really old-school stuff.

Really? Maybe I'm remembering my GB Advance... Anywhoo, get the DS.
posted by cowbellemoo at 6:57 AM on November 30, 2007


Anything before the GBA won't fit in the slot in the DS. In addition, if you get a DS Lite, a GBA cartridge will stick out slightly.

None of this prevents me from recommending you a used DS Lite, especially since it has different brightness settings. My only caution would be that my hands are a bit big to find it comfortable, but that's probably because I'm accustomed to my original DS.
posted by scission at 7:01 AM on November 30, 2007


Definitely a DS. Another nice feature of the DS is that you can just close the lid to suspend the game, so you don't have to worry about losing your progress when your stop arrives or the phone rings. Your game will be there waiting for you when you reopen the lid.
posted by I Said, I've Got A Big Stick at 7:02 AM on November 30, 2007


DS is the way to go.
posted by Silvertree at 7:15 AM on November 30, 2007


On the cheap(er) end of the spectrum, what about one of these guys? Or this one, or this one, or this one?
posted by jbickers at 7:16 AM on November 30, 2007


Another vote for DS. Regardless of what genre of games you usually enjoy, you'll find several excellent DS games that suit your fancy.
posted by Nelsormensch at 7:22 AM on November 30, 2007


"Buy an old Palm handheld -- maybe $40 for a usable colour rechargable one, and load it up. There's thousands of games for free or nearly so. Bonus: book reader, appointments, etc." --- seanmpuckett

Something like this or the supercard let's you load ebooks, simple Palm-like applications (organizer, notepad, etct), music and video (of about YouTube quality) and "homebrew" roms.

I have the http://eng.supercard.cn/, first generation, and I haven't hacked the firmware yet, so I have to use a pass-through adapter in the DS slot, but I love it to death.
posted by JeremiahBritt at 7:26 AM on November 30, 2007


Oh, that was a +1 to the DS tally. Somehow I didn't include that in there.
posted by JeremiahBritt at 7:27 AM on November 30, 2007


DS with an R4 or M3 Simply Card is the way to go.
posted by swizzlepants at 7:28 AM on November 30, 2007


I have a ds lite with an R4 flash card and an ezflash IV 3 in 1 for the GBA slot.

Good times! I highly recommend.
posted by utsutsu at 7:29 AM on November 30, 2007


The Gameboy Advance would work if your budget really can't stretch, but to be honest the DS lite is a much better investment, it's an amazing little gadget/toy and so will last you a lot longer. When I had a GBA and was commuting, it passed the time, but the DS is so much better and much, much more fun.

Hint: When your commuting if a game asks you to shout at it, just flick the microphone hole (situated on the bottom half, between the two screens)
posted by paulfreeman at 7:31 AM on November 30, 2007


The DS is the most video-gamin' fun I've had outside of a full-fledged console.
posted by danb at 7:32 AM on November 30, 2007


DS. It's not just 'let's take this gaming experience and try to squish it into something portable', but largely, 'let's embrace the idea of portable gaming and make a fun experience for it'.

Now, true, there are a lot of crap games for the DS that are just dumbed down versions of their console brethern, but there's also a lot of original and cool gaming on the DS. The touch screen interface is immediately rewarding and well suited to portable gameplay. I do find it a little annoying where you're expected to wield both the pen and the controller buttons simultaneously, but there's plenty of games that can be controlled entirely from the pen, if that's you feel the same way.

check out some of the previous threads on the DS to get an idea where to start, game-wise.
posted by fishfucker at 8:12 AM on November 30, 2007


I asked a question like this a few months ago and ended up with the DS. I have been absolutely in love with it ever since. The touch screen blows me away when you have a game that takes full advantage of it. The battery lasts a long time. Its small and I take it with me everywhere.
posted by beautifulcheese at 8:52 AM on November 30, 2007


i just got my boyfriend the DS after years of trying to get him to play mine. he fell in love with it because of the ds flash card swizzlepants and utsutsu mention. i can't imagine long rides without it (if you don't get motion sickness).
posted by kendrak at 8:57 AM on November 30, 2007


I downloaded Tetris to my cell phone and it usually does the trick for me ... just a thought if you're *really* cash-conscious. Most providers let you download numerous games for your phone, and with a bit of tinkering you can do self-installs as well.
posted by WCityMike at 9:42 AM on November 30, 2007


I vote DS, I love mine. The touch screen is loads of fun, and the Brain Age games are great for mental exercise.

FWIW, I've played my husbands PSP and hated it because it was physically painful to use for any extended period of time (buttons in uncomfortable places). That could have just been the game, but something to consider.
posted by geeky at 12:29 PM on November 30, 2007


Nthing DS. Like you needed another DS suggestion. It just rocks.
posted by General Malaise at 1:49 PM on November 30, 2007


What other options besides the DS and PSP are there these days? You either choose between these two or go old school hardware. For new school the DS is the clear winner for quality and quantity of games.
posted by Odinhead at 1:07 AM on December 1, 2007


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