From the green and yellow screen of the original Game Boy all the way to the crisp OLED of the PlayStation Vita, portable gaming has flourished into a market that no one could have anticipated. These handheld devices have made long car trips, business trips, classes (admit it!), meetings, and even trips to the restroom a little more bearable.
With PlayStation Vita getting more than its fair share of love recently, some of us at Stealthy Box have been waxing a little nostalgic about some of the great portable gaming experiences we’ve seen over the years. This list is comprised of some of our favorite Potent Portables: Those games that may be small in size, but pack a powerful punch.
If those beep boops and that music don’t bring back memories, you were obviously not a handheld gamer in the early 90’s. If Super Mario Bros. saved the console market, Tetris made the handheld market. Originally packed in with the original Game Boy, Tetris was the perfect pick-up-and-play game. It was simple to understand and easy to play for short bursts, but addictive enough to make people play for hours. It was the perfect distraction for those few minutes between classes or on a lunch break, but one of those games players would spend hours n trying to top high scores. Tetris had catchy music, especially for a Game Boy game, and appealed both to casuals and hardcore gamers alike. While there have been MANY versions of Tetris over the years, the Game Boy original still holds a special place in our hearts for being the portable game to start it all off.
The Legend of Zelda: Link’s Awakening DX
Link’s Awakening was one of those “They’ll never…” titles. People thought it was impossible to have a full, traditional Legend of Zelda experince on the Game Boy, but Link’s Awakening proved all the naysayers wrong. Instead of taking place in Hyrule, Link’s Awawkening has our titular hero shipwrecked on the mysterious island of Koholint. Link must set out to discover the truth of this new, strange land and find a way to get home to Hyrule.
Link’s Awakening features the same over-the-top perspective of A Link to the Past on the SNES and almost all of the charm and complex dungeon design as well. The gameplay was amazingly strong, the story was simple but full of charm, and there was a large helping of humor and Nintendo references thrown in for good measure. What sticks out the most was the music. Using just simple beeps, Link’s Awakening crafted some truly memorable music that matches just about anything from the “big” Zelda games.
Link’s Awakening DX is on this list instead of the original release because of the addition of color, an extra dungeon, and the fact this version is the most readily available to new audiences via the Nintendo 3DS eShop.
Castlevania: Dracula X Chronicles
Castlevania: Rondo of Blood was an entry that had been released in Japan on the PC Engine back in 1993. It was a classic entry in the Castlevania mythos that saw Richter Belmont going forth to rescue his beloved Annette from the clutches of Dracula, and his vile servant Shaft. Along the way, Richter rescues Annette’s 12 year-old sister, Maria, and the duo are able to stop Dracula’s evil for a time.
Unfortunately Rondo of Blood never properly made it to the United States or Europe. Instead, we received a hacked up version called Dracula X or Vampire’s Kiss in the US and Europe respectively. That is, until Konami released Dracula X Chronicles for the PSP. Dracula X Chronicles gave us a re-imagined version of Rondo of Blood with updated graphics, remastered music, and new (bad) voice acting. It maintained the same soul and tough as nails difficulty as the original Rondo, however, and finally gave many Castlevania fans a taste of what they had been missing.
As if that experience wasn’t enough, unlockable within the main game was the legendary sequel to Rondo of Blood, Symphony of the Night. Although not re-imagined in the same manner as Rondo of Blood, the inclusion of a game of Symphony’s caliber was reason enough to get Castlevania fans more than a little excited. Well, just to add to the value, a Boss Rush mode was included, which allowed players to play through the main game’s collection of bosses one after the other. Oh, and it also included the original Rondo of Blood.
If this had been released on a console, it would have been an amazing value. To have this collection available on portable system for on the go was absolutely amazing.