My Top 10 Handheld Games

My Top 10 Handheld Games

I have already listed my top 10 console games of all time and this list wasn’t much easier to make. It is tough to narrow down my favorites to 10, but you will also see a few honorable mentions along the way.

My first video game system was a Game Boy Color. I had played a little original Game Boy before that, which is what hooked me in the first place. I then got a Game Boy Advance followed by the Nintendo DS, and finally the Nintendo 3DS. So clearly this is a Nintendo-heavy list. You won’t see any phone games. Here we go:

Honorable mention: Moon – DS

A surprising, tension-filled shooter. Definitely a standout for a Nintendo system.

#10 Super Mario 64 – DS

Yes, this is a remake of a Nintendo 64 title, but it’s still a DS game! I didn’t get to experience the original, so this was a fantastic way to dive in on some video game history. This one previously revolutionized 3D gaming and has certainly stood the test of time, playing excellently still today.

#9 New Super Mario Bros. – DS

Released in 2006, this game revitalized the Super Mario Bros. series of fantastic side-scrolling platformers. With crisp graphics, new features, and the genius level design we’ve come to expect from Nintendo, this one was an easy pick to make the list.

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#8 Mario Kart DS – DS

Clearly, Mario titles on the DS were rocking back in the mid-2000s. Mario Kart is a great series and there hasn’t been a bad one. This one brought three-dimensional racing the DS in a big way, sporting a bunch of beautiful courses, many racers to choose from, and the ability to race against your friends on the go.

Honorable mention: Tony Hawk Pro Skater 2 and 3 – GBA

You didn’t have to be a skater to appreciate these fun ones on the Game Boy Advance. Trying to do new tricks to beat your high scores didn’t get old.

#7 Yu-Gi-Oh! The Sacred Cards – GBA

I collected Yu-Gi-Oh! cards as a kid, even though I wasn’t big into the show. I tried three games, two of which weren’t very good, but this one was a gem. There were a ton of cards to collect to strengthen your deck, many duelists to fight, and a good learning curve from start to finish. The nerdiness is strong with this one.

#6 Metroid Fusion – GBA

Metroid: Zero Mission certainly needs a nod here as well, but Fusion is undeniably my favorite. The exploration, level design, all-around gameplay, and feeling of isolation make this one a memorable, nearly flawless experience. (I am currently playing Metroid: Samus Returns for the 3DS and it is great as well)

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Honorable Mention: Final Fantasy IV – DS

I’ve given a few FF games a try and this one stood out with the most memorable characters. One of the deeper handheld experiences out there.

#5 Kirby: Nightmare in Dreamland – GBA

One of the first video games I played was Kirby’s Dreamland for the original Game Boy. Playing on a friend’s handheld, it started my affection for the pink puffball. Nightmare in Dreamland was the first Kirby game I owned. The bright colors, fast-paced action, and fun gameplay make it stand out as a personal favorite – especially the second to last boss battle with Meta Knight.

#4 Wario Land 3 – GBC

I put a lot of time in on Wario Land 4 as well, but that wouldn’t have happened if not for this jewel on the Game Boy Color. Essentially Mario with toilet humor, Wario is one of my favorite characters from the Mario Universe. This unique platformer was funny as well as fun, delivering memorable worlds and one of my favorite video game anti-heroes in Wario.

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Honorable Mention: Legend of Zelda: The Minish Cap – GBA

My favorite Zelda game made exclusively for handheld gaming. Unlike my next pick…

#3 Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time 3D – 3DS

Like Super Mario 64, I missed the original Nintendo 64 version of this one. I played it a little later on, but it didn’t hold my attention from my newer console games. I gave it another shot on the 3DS and was sold. This is one of the most expansive and engaging worlds you can dive into in a handheld game.

#2 Super Smash Brothers – 3DS

On my list of top console games, Super Smash Brothers Melee took number two. Now, the 3DS entry will be runner-up here. The fighting game translates well to the small screens of the 3DS. You still get to play as your Nintendo favorites pitted against each other in familiar locations. The formula remains as fun as always!

Honorable Mention: The Pokemon series: Game Boy – 3DS

Again, much like my console favorites, this list could have easily been dominated by just one series; the main reason for me having handheld systems. From favorites such as Pokemon Yellow to the newest Pokemon Sun entry. But especially…

#1 Pokemon Silver – GBC

As I mentioned previously, the Game Boy Color was my first video game system. Pokemon Silver was among my first video games and remains a personal favorite. The feeling of adventure made me play this game long after I had completed it. I nerded out on this game RPG-style like no other. My original copy doesn’t work anymore, but I still keep the cartridge as a memento to an incredibly fond childhood memory.

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Book Review: The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy

I don’t necessarily plan on doing a bunch of book reviews on here or anything. I just finished Douglas Adams’ The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, and I had a reaction to the book contrary to popular opinion, so I thought it might be worth a write-up.

The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy is lauded as being one of the best science fiction novels out there. It doesn’t take itself too seriously and turns classic sci-fi cliches into unique humor. It’s that humor that has made many consider it to be one of the top reads in the genre. Maybe knowing this going in made my expectations a bit too high. Perhaps it just didn’t appeal to my personal preferences when it comes to what I consider funny. There is a lot to like here, but there was also a lot that let me down.

The book was first published in 1979, which makes the technology discussed in the book that much more impressive. The touchscreen devices and hyperdrive tech that Adams describes are very impressive considering that was largely technology that he created in his own mind before the genre was flooded with similar ideas. The book is of course well-written structurally, though the story itself feels short.

The character development is difficult to describe. The goofyness of the book translates into almost an improv quality in the characters in that they barely stop to question the strange things happening around them. This didn’t make any of the characters very relatable, even Arthur, the Earthling thrust into the wacky space adventure. Even if the characters weren’t overly relatable, they were still memorable, though I didn’t feel very attached to them until the very end of the book. I see a lot of influence from the down-trodden robot Marvin in many modern science fiction stories today.

The humor is definitely more British than I am used to, which is of course no fault of the book or author. It could however be part of my issue appreciating the humor. I did find myself chuckling late in my read as Douglas Adams went on a few funny tangents such as the thought process of a whale that had a minor impact on the story. It was a long wait to get to those funny moments though, and then the book was over shortly after. The wit was better applied in insightful quotes such as those listed below:

“The ships hung in the sky in much the same way that bricks don’t.”

“For instance, on the planet Earth, man had always assumed that he was more intelligent than dolphins because he had achieved so much — the wheel, New York, wars and so on — whilst all the dolphins had ever done was muck about in the water having a good time. But conversely, the dolphins had always believed that they were far more intelligent than man — for precisely the same reasons.”

The abrupt end leads to a clear plug to read the next book, which I might read eventually. I can’t say feel inclined right away. Perhaps first I need to re-read this one, just to make sure I’m not being too harsh relative to the success the story has enjoyed since its release. Overall, I would recommend it to sci-fi fans only because it is such a short read, but I would advise anyone else to pass and find something else.


The Appeal of Nintendo

The word Nintendo carries a lot of weight for most people that have played video games at some point in their life. It is a word dripping with nostalgia, but may also still be very relevant if you have children or have stuck with the company from console to console over the years. Nintendo is what drew me into video gaming many years ago. Now, it continues to beckon with its dedication to what made it great in the first place: memorable characters and games that never stopped being fun.

Even non-gamers can recognize Nintendo’s iconic front-man Mario and his brother Luigi. Mario first made his appearance in the Donkey Kong arcade game in 1981. Mario has been the protagonist in a ridiculous number of games since then, from the original Mario Bros. platformer to spin-offs such as

Mario Tennis. I believe we are up to Mario Kart 8, which shows how much staying power a Nintendo series has. It may never stop being fun to play a Mario Kart game with your friends – dropping banana peels for them to slip on, tossing bombs at each other, or lapping somebody as they threaten (emptily) to never play again.

Unfortunately, I haven’t purchased a home Nintendo console since the original Wii. I’m just not sure that I can justify the purchase when I can’t even find the time to play my Xbox One as much as I would like. However, the constant draw of my favorite Nintendo series’ makes it really tough to not dive in. I have been able to quench my Nintenthirst to an extent though with my 3DS handheld console. I love the Super Smash Brothers series which pits all of the flagship characters of Nintendo against each other in all-out brawls. The latest iteration came out on the 3DS, which was a huge selling point to me. The 3DS has also allowed me to play some Zelda, Pokémon, Kirby, and soon, Metroid.

Nintendo is deeply rooted in my past and I am confident that it will play a part in my future. Any parent can be confident buying a game with Mario on the cover that it will provide wholesome fun for their child. Nintendo is always able to expertly navigate the line that appeals to both young gamers and seasoned ones alike. Kirby games might be colorful and relatively easy, but they tug at my feelings of nostalgia like few other game series can. Legend of Zelda games are easy to pick up and play for all, but provide a level of complexity and difficulty that can appeal to the hardcore gamer.

“If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” is clearly a mantra for the popular video game company. At the same time, innovation can be seen at the forefront of Nintendo’s business direction with the motion controls of the Wii, the 3D feature of the handheld 3DS, and the go-anywhere quality of the newer Nintendo Switch. It’s always a good time to be a Nintendo fan due to the growing library of quality games featuring familiar friends and foes. I may not keep up with the products as well as I would like, but the constant allure of Nintendo will likely linger for me for a long time.

Why I love Star Wars

Lightsabers are reason enough for someone to love Star Wars. For me though, it goes a little deeper than that.

The timing of the Star Wars films all worked out pretty well for me. Now, that might seem a little silly considering the first movie (Episode IV) came out in 1977 and I came out in 1991. I believe I was six years old when my uncle bought me the remastered version of the original trilogy. The films were ahead of their time, visually, so they blended right in with the not-yet-HD films I was already used to in 1997. I must have watched those three movies three dozen times. Naturally, I dressed up as Darth Vader for multiple Halloween’s around then.

Again, the timing of all this worked out very well, as not soon after I watched the original trilogy for the 25th time or so, they announced that they were going to be releasing a prequel trilogy. I don’t remember specifically but, being a child, I assume I threw up and then wet my pants with excitement. Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace released in May of 1999. For many (old) Star Wars fans, the movie apparently seemed childish, with the goofy Jar Jar Binks and a nine-year-old protagonist, Anakin Skywalker. I was eight at the time, so for me once again, the timing couldn’t have been better.

Despite many harsh reviews, I was able to enjoy the prequels for what they were: more Star Wars. There are a lot of political overtones that drive the Star Wars story forward which I didn’t understand as a kid, but it didn’t matter. The movies expertly toe the line between sci-fi and fantasy with big space battles, lasers, aliens, and the mysterious force that binds the universe and grants the Jedi their power.

I have owned action figures, LEGOs, t-shirts/hoodies, PJs, fake lightsabers, video games, books, and much more to quench my thirst for as much Star Wars as possible. Disney acquired Lucasfilm in 2012, giving them the rights to the Star Wars universe. They have since released two new movies and plan on releasing many more. One final time, I’ll say the timing is perfect for me as a Star Wars fan, because I get to see so much more of my beloved franchise. Not to mention that there is a Star Wars-themed Disney park slated to arrive in 2019.

There is a lot to love and the universe is only going to keep expanding, which is incredibly exciting to me. In some potentially embarrassing ways, Star Wars has helped shape who I am. It takes a lot of credit for me having a very nerdy side. The force is with me, and I’m totally cool with that.

My Top 10 Console Games

Creating this list is probably the hardest thing I’ve ever done. Keep in mind that I’m someone who has had to rip his own Band-Aids off, grill an eight-pack of hotdogs all at once, and live through Y2K.

I was a little behind getting my start gaming on consoles. A lot of my friends had Nintendo 64s, but my first was the Nintendo GameCube. After the GameCube, I got a PlayStation 2, Xbox 360, throwback Xbox and N64, Wii, PlayStation 3, and now Xbox One. I’ve had good times playing games on all mentioned, but I decided a top 10 had a nice ring to it. Don’t worry, I’ll throw in some honorable mentions that I just couldn’t leave off. Here we go:

Honorable mention: Star Wars Podracer – N64

My all-time favorite racing game. High-speed Star Wars goodness!

#10 Fable Anniversary – Xbox 360

I love Fable 1, 2, and even 3. The comedy is great and the gradual evolution of your character based on your good or bad deeds was super fun. By the end of my first playthrough, my character naturally had horns and was followed by a puff of red smoke everywhere he went. Fable Anniversary on the 360 was the definitive edition of the first game and deserves a spot in my top 10.

#9 Grand Theft Auto V – Xbox 360/Xbox One

GTA V may have the best story I have ever played through in a video game. The three protagonists the player gets to see the virtual world through have such an entertaining story that you might think it was a movie; one of the most entertaining movies I can think of. The graphics, story, and famous GTA cathartic fun easily earns this one a spot.

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#8 Borderlands 2 – Xbox 360

It was an impressive feat to make Borderlands 2 even better than the first. Borderlands has solid gun gameplay paired with fantastic loot collection and character customization. The humor is off the charts, highlighted by the foul-mouthed villain, Jack. Even though he was the antagonist, his hilarious insults made him one of my favorite characters in any video game.

Honorable mention: God of War – PS2/PS3

All of the God of War games were fantastic and pretty much the sole reason for me briefly owning a PS3.

#7 Red Dead Redemption – Xbox 360

Essentially Grand Theft Auto set in the wild west, this game was destined for greatness. A great story mode and a wide-open world to explore made this epic, but the ability to tie people up and put them on train tracks, get drunk and shoot up a saloon, or rob a stagecoach made it oh so fun.

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#6 Star Wars Battlefront 2 – PS2

I am admittedly a sucker for anything Star Wars, but this was a super popular game, so I know it wasn’t just me. The ability to play as so many characters from all factions – droids, stormtrooper, rebels, etc. – was a blast. Multiplayer was fantastic, highlighted by the light side vs. dark side hero battle in Mos Eisley.

Honorable Mention: Madworld – Wii

My favorite Wii game! This game was all black and white except for red blood, which there was in excess. One of the most underrated games ever in my opinion.

#5 NBA Live 05 – Gamecube

This was what started my love for the NBA; I was constantly pouring over the player ratings and statistics. I would mercilessly beat my poor Father multiple times a week, but he must have thought it was a pretty good game too because he always came back. NBA Live ‘06 was just as great, though the Live series eventually fell behind the NBA 2K series, which spawned new favorites such as NBA 2K11 and 2K16. NBA Live will always be special to me though.

#4 Halo Reach – Xbox 360

Growing up, I never had strong enough internet to play games online. That changed when I moved into town for college and hooked up Xbox Live to play Halo. The hours my friends and I put into online split-screen multiplayer would probably be considered embarrassing. When it came to time spent playing Halo Reach though, I have no regrets. No time wasted here.

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Honorable Mention: Call of Duty Black Ops – Xbox 360

I couldn’t quite bring myself to put a COD game on my top 10 list, but this one was close. My college roommate and I put in a lot of hours (and a lot of beer) into this game.

#3 The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim – Xbox 360/Xbox One

If I could only play one game for the rest of my life… I’d probably have to pick Skyrim. It doesn’t possess the nostalgic charm of my #1 and #2 selections, but the staying power of this one is crazy. The number of places to go and things to do are seemingly limitless. I’ve been addicted to exploring its world on and off for multiple years, and that isn’t likely going away.

#2 Super Smash Brothers Melee – Gamecube

I grew up playing Nintendo games, and this one was the pinnacle of those experiences. It allowed me to play as some of my favorite characters from various games as well as learn about ones I wasn’t familiar with yet. Friends and family could grab controllers and start-up brawls between Mario, Zelda, Pikachu, Donkey Kong, and many others and it was some of the most fun I’ve ever had playing a game.

Honorable Mention: The Halo series: Xbox, Xbox 360, Xbox One

I know I already mentioned Halo Reach, but it was a true standout. Multiple Halo games could have made my list, but that would have been boring! I did however save a spot for…

#1 Halo 2 – Xbox

As I mentioned, this list could have been super Halo heavy. Instead, we have Reach at #4, the others as an honorable mention, and my favorite console game ever – Halo 2 – at #1.  In my opinion, this installment had the best story, wildly addicting multiplayer, and memorable moments that set it apart. Even without the ability to play online at the time, my friends and I spent countless hours with the screen split, playing against each other or co-op in the campaign. Super well-rounded, this one had to take my number 1 spot!

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