Three decades have passed since the debut of Milton Bradley's Microvision - the first handheld gaming console. We look back and chart the highs and lows of handheld video consoles.
Sony PlayStation Portable (2004)
The PlayStation brand had ruled the home console market for over a decade, so it seemed inevitable that Sony would challenge Nintendo's handheld dominance.
Early in the battle of PlayStation Portable vs Nintendo DS, many critics figured that the PSP would win handily because of its impressive graphical, multimedia, and networking capabilities.
But that's not the way things have turned out. Instead, the DS has outsold the PSP by a ratio of roughly 2:1.
The PSP has managed to do significantly better than past Nintendo competitors -mostly because the PSP and DS occupy different niches in the handheld console market.
Present and future
The current generation of handheld devices blurs the lines separating multimedia devices, pocket computers, and game devices, emphasising wireless internet networking and online distribution of games - notably pushed by Apple on the iPhone and the iPod Touch.
Since Apple's astounding success with the App Store, both Nintendo and Sony have stepped up their online distribution efforts with their Nintendo DSi and PSP Go consoles, respectively.
As we look to the future, the complete extinction of physical game media (cartridges, cards, and discs) seems imminent.
Also, expect handheld game consoles to merge further with multifunction pocket devices such as smartphones as they compete for limited pocket space.
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See also:The 20 best games that never were
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