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From Game Boy to DS: Nintendo Loves to Keep Us Entertained

"…in this world nothing can be said to be certain, except death and taxes." - Benjamin Franklin

We’re all familiar with this famous quote from one of our founding fathers, but what would you add to it if given the chance? As gamers, we thrive on a certain level of consistency from our favorite standbys, whether that be a gaming franchise, system, or company as a whole. For me, it would be this: "…death, taxes, and the fact that I will purchase any handheld system that Nintendo puts on the market."

Game Boy I was seven when the original Game Boy came out in 1989 with a price tag of $89.99. To my second grade mind, that seemed akin to the national debt; an insurmountable price tag for a kid who had already had her birthday for the year and who could not possibly wait five months until Christmas. I was determined, however, and so I did at least twelve million chores to earn enough money to purchase one for myself (something I’m sure my mother supplemented out of pity and lack of more floors to clean or cats to feed). She took me to K-Mart, and I purchased the first thing I had ever earned. And ‘AA’ batteries. Lots and lots of batteries.

As the years went on I continued to avidly play my Game Boy. There was never a shortage of games to try (renting from the local video store, remember those days?), and if all else failed Metroid II was there for me to discover new secrets. Virtual Boy sadly failed, Game Boy Pocket was cute, but when Game Boy Color came out in 1998 it literally changed the way we saw and played handheld games. I had the transparent purple GBC while my younger brother had the bright “Pikachu” yellow. Each armed with a copy of Tetris DX and a link cable that allowed us to compete against each other, I was truly an upgraded version of my seven-year-old self.

In 2001, we were gifted with the Game Boy Advance. A new look, upgraded 32-bit insides and a slew of games made this system insanely popular. Yet still, I frequently thought to myself that something was lacking; why did I still need this little worm light clamped to my system? Who was I to complain, though; I could play Super Mario 3 in the palm of my hand. Nintendo would give me what I wanted, eventually. They always did.

In 2003 I was working at Toys “R” Us. When the Game Boy Advance SP was released with a new design that included a backlit screen, I said my silent “thank you” to Nintendo. It was the perfect hand held that fit in my pocket and still played all of my favorite games. I remember my co-workers and I claiming our colors of choice (mine was metallic blue), then playing Final Fantasy Tactics Advance together in the dark with our backlit screens blazing, living the high life. I still have my SP. It still plays Metroid II.

Nintendo DSI think that was the moment I realized that no matter what console war Nintendo was embattled with, they would still take the time to give me a handheld system that would make me happy (or possibly to keep the company afloat, but who’s keeping score). The hype of the DS was worth it in my mind. What a different and innovative design for the time before mainstream tablets and touch screen devices. A bit bulky, yes, but I traded for a DS Lite when it came out in 2006, and then a DSi in 2008. When Nintendo tried again with their 3D attempts, I waited until the 3DS XL came out. Did I play my games in 3D? No, it gave me a headache; but I had an option to, and that in itself was pretty amazing.

Now I sit with my New 3DS XL (Hyrule Gold Edition), street passing and hoping to collect some new puzzle pieces. I’d love to hear about your favorite Nintendo handheld games and memories. In the meantime, I think I’ll play a little Tetris. I’m sure even Mr. Franklin himself would approve.




09/01/2016 at 10:15 PM

Firstly, welcome...

In light of the recent Nintendo Direct, I had been thinking about how much I loved my GBA and DS, but the 3DS has been somewhat of a disappointement for me.  None of the announcements today appealed to me...  ...  ...  I blame the Vita at this point.

I do have some very fond memories of growing up with Nintendo handhelds.  I remember a road trip from NY state back home to IL that I sat down with Metroid II and beat it for the first time in one sitting.  I was quite proud of myself...  I also remember multiple times where I would play through Metroid Fusion back to back to back to back to back, trying to shave off a minute or two from my play time.

I remember picking up a pink DS Lite because I really wanted to play Yoshi's Island DS and pink was all that Target had at that moment, and to me Yoshi's Island was more important than the color.

Catherine Hauser Staff Alumnus

09/02/2016 at 03:49 PM

Thank you for the welcome and the comment!

Metroid II is by far one of my favorite games, and Fusion was also amazing. I should have included that one in the picture! I also loved Super Mario Land. I remember beating that game through in one go for the first time, and then being able to play through it all again on a harder difficulty.

For the 3DS I'm looking forward to the new Pokemon that are coming out in November. I also love the Mario and Luigi series and while a lot of people hate it, Paper Mario Sticker Star is fun. Yoshi's Island would be worth the pink DS, haha! I worked at EB Games (now GameStop) when all of those game out, so I had my pick of system and color when I wanted.

I do not have a Vita, because I did not really like the PSP. Is it worth getting?


09/02/2016 at 10:49 PM

Here is why I like the Vita, it is one of my favorite pieces of hardware btw.  I love the selection of PSOne Classics that are available.  I didn't have a PSP very long, so I missed out on a lot of that library which I now have downloaded to my Vita.  I love indie games a lot, but prefer them on a handheld and I think the Vita has a better selection of indie games than the 3DS.  Western Developers have essentially abandoned the Vita, but there is usually a handful of Japanese games that release each month.  I also, prefer having just one screen on my handheld.  Also, the Ratchet and Clank collection is on Vita.
The biggest issue with the Vita is the memory cards.  I lucked out and got a 32gb one for relatively cheap...  Granted I don't need to have the 60+ games I currently have installed at once.   

I have vague memories of sleeping over at a friends house and since I was always an early riser, playing the Super Mario Land series while he slept.

Catherine Hauser Staff Alumnus

09/03/2016 at 01:28 PM

It would be nice to have a PSOne library at my fingertips! I'll have to look into it for sure.

Casey Curran Staff Writer

09/04/2016 at 01:23 PM

I started my gaming on Nintendo handhelds, remember when I was seven my cousin gave me his old Gameboy with Wario Land 3. I ended up loving the thing, as I got Pokemon pretty soon after, then was introduced to Zelda and the Donkey Kong remake later, all of which are some of my all time favorite games. Upgraded to the GBC and GBA later also, the latter which introduced me to Metroid and finally let me have my own copy of Super Mario World. 

I was actually the opposite when the DS came out though, I thought the thing was lame and the PSP would crush it. But then I saw an EGM issue covering E3 in 2005 and noticed that the DS games looked much more interesting than the PSP ones. The second I played Kirby Canvas Curse I knew I made the right choice. From there on, games like Castlevania, Elite Beat Agents, and all those Pokemon games made it my favorite handheld.

When I got a 3DS later I gave my cousin my old DS and my copy of Zelda: Phantom Hourglass. It was my way of saying thank you for all those years ago.

Catherine Hauser Staff Alumnus

09/04/2016 at 05:13 PM

Wario Land, yes!! Those games were fantastic. I just bought the original on the eShop for nostalgia.

I consider myself a "Nintendo" person before anything, so I was skeptical about the PSP when it came out. I eventually bought one and was not entirely impressed with it. The DS provided way more entertainment value in my biased eyes. I'm glad with the choice I made given all the games you mentioned above. I'm sure your cousin would agree!

Cary Woodham

09/05/2016 at 09:54 PM

I like NIntendo because they make whimsical and fun games that fit me well.  Lots of great handheld favorites.  Some of mine include Link's Awakening, Kirby Anything, Wario Land 2 and 3, Shantae, Animal Crossing: New Leaf, the Phoenix Wright series, and many more. 

Catherine Hauser Staff Alumnus

09/06/2016 at 01:16 PM

My goal in Animal Crossing is to get a town full of penguins.


09/07/2016 at 05:22 PM

I grew up on Atari and Nintendo. I got the Game Boy for Christmas the year it came out in 1989, only I was 11 years old (almost 12). For my 12th birthday two weeks later I got the rechargeable battery pack which was nearly as big as the Game Boy itself. One of my favorite old school Game Boy games was Kid Icarus: Of Myths and Monsters, which was better than the NES game. I later got a GBC, a GBA, a DS, and a 3DS. Besides the Zelda and Pokemon games, one thing I enjoy about Nintendo's handhelds are the Dragon Quest games that were ported to the GBC and DS.

Catherine Hauser Staff Alumnus

09/10/2016 at 02:08 PM

I loved the Kid Icarus game as well! I remember it being challenging. I loved the feathers and the credit cards to buy stuff on the black market. That makes me laugh now!

I think I need to get that game from the eshop.

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