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USgamer Community Question: What's Your All-Time Favorite Handheld System?

If you could only have one handheld gaming system, which one would it be?

This article first appeared on USgamer, a partner publication of VG247. Some content, such as this article, has been migrated to VG247 for posterity after USgamer's closure - but it has not been edited or further vetted by the VG247 team.

Last week we talked about your favorite handheld game. This week we thought we'd keep the same theme, but talk about handheld systems. If you were stranded on a desert island with just one mobile gaming system and a nice selection of games, which one would you want it to be?

Is that a tricky question for you to answer, or an easy one? Either way, while you figure out your choice, here's what the USgamer team has nominated as their favorite handheld systems.

Jaz Rignall, Editor-at-Large

The handheld I'd really love to be able to take with me would be the TurboExpress - the portable version of the TurboGrafx-16, aka the PC Engine. That system plays all of the PC Engine's ROM cards, and considering the PCE's rather excellent range of original games and arcade conversions, I know the classic handheld would keep me happy as I whiled away the hours on a desert island. So why is there a picture of a PS Vita above this text instead of a TurboExpress? That's because its screen is just too small to play its games on. At least, it is for me. If any game has text, it's nigh on illegible on the tiny 400x270 screen, and any game that has small hazards or requires pixel-perfect jumps, the game is rendered almost unplayable.

Such a shame, but I can't be stuck on a desert island with a brilliant system I can't play, so onto the next nomination.

The Game Boy runs the Vita a close second. There are so many great games on that system, and I know that I'd never get bored of my favorite game that I talked about last week - Tetris.

However, when it comes down to a choice, my favorite handheld is the most modern: the PlayStation Vita. It's such a beautiful system with such a fantastic screen that it's exactly what I'd want on a desert island. Yeah, its range of games might not be quite as impressive as some of the older handhelds, but there are still a lot of Vita games that I haven't played that I'd love to. Particularly many JRPGs that I just never have time to play.

The system also features a range of excellent arcade games, including Gravity Rush, TxK, and Dragon's Crown, and assuming I could download a bunch of classic PSP games before I took it with me, I'm pretty sure the machine would keep me happy until I was finally rescued.

Jeremy Parish, Editor-in-Chief

Wow, so torn between 3DS and Vita on this one. Both are solid systems, and both have the same advantage: Massive libraries and massive backward compatibility. Vita has the technological edge and a huge collection of games for three systems (Vita, PSP, and PlayStation classics), while 3DS offers access to a even more massive library (3DS, DS, and Virtual Console). Plus my 10 precious 3DS Ambassador titles for GBA.

In the end, I think I have to go with the 3DS, though. It simply has more games I really love and would want to replay — heck, Atlus' support alone would keep me occupied for about 1000 hours. Plus, the system's two screens means it would be doubly effective as an emergency reflector to signal to passing aircraft, given that I'm stranded on a desert island.

But seriously, folks. Between its healthy library of NES and Game Boy titles and its support for just about every single DS game ever made, that is a lot of potential entertainment right there. Plus, I could Street Pass with passing ocean liners. And the 3DS library itself is enormous — besides all those meaty RPGs that would be so good for killing time on a desert island, it has plenty of platformers, slow-life sims, shooters, and more. I don't know if I'd say the 3DS is my favorite system ever; the original DS honestly holds that distinction. But since the 3DS bundles the entirety of the DS into itself, it wins by default.

That being said... if you stranded me on a desert island with a Vita, I'd still be OK (aside from being stranded on a desert island). Just send lots of those overpriced memory cards along with me, OK?

Samantha Leichtamer, Community Curator

If I’m going to be stranded on an island with only one portable console of my selection, the obvious choice is the one with the longest battery life. Lucky for me that also happens to be my favorite portable console of all time: the Game Boy Color. This GB Color blew my elementary school mind as did its incredible roster of games. Last week I already admitted my favorite portable game was Wario Land III, so logically my love for Game Boy games doesn’t end there.

I’ll be fading into paradise playing all my classic favorites like Pokemon Gold, The Legend of Zelda: Link’s Awakening, Shantae, and Wario Land III (of course!) The library is HUGE … and the system is backwards compatible so I can play Game Boy games as well. Take that Jaz!

Kat Bailey, Senior Editor

I'm surprised by the lack of Nintendo DS love in this thread. Quite frankly, it's the best dedicated handheld ever made. As much as I like the Nintendo 3DS, times have changed for handhelds. Mobile is pulling the market in a lot of different directions. The Nintendo DS, by contrast, existed before smartphones truly exploded; and as a result, was the beneficiary of a huge number of unique games.

Many of my favorite games of all time are on the Nintendo DS: The World Ends With You, Dragon Quest IX, Pokemon Black 2/White 2, Advance Wars: Dual Strike, and Osu! Tatakae! Ouendan, just to name a few. It's hard to put into words how impressive that platform was from 2005 until 2009 or 2010. It seemed like every other week I was getting some new and interesting experience that I had never even had on a console before, let alone a handheld.

Etrian Odyssey brought back the joys of filling out a hex map using the touchscreen. Elite Beat Agents was a superb rhythm game; and at the time, I was completely blown away that iNiS could fit so many songs on one tiny cartridge. I've still yet to play anything quite like The World Ends With You, which mixed a unique week-based structure with a great story and entertaining touchscreen-based gameplay. And that was on top of the fact that it finally made visual novels a legitimate genre in North America.

The fact that I still play my Nintendo DS today is a testament to its staying power. After all these years, I've yet to get around to play Castlevania: Dawn of Sorrow and Radiant Historia — two games that are by all accounts terrific. I've kept a lot of my other Nintendo DS games around as well, knowing that the majority of them hold up just fine.

As you can tell, I still have a lot of love for the Nintendo DS, which was pretty much the only thing I played back when I was living in Japan. Along with the GBA, it shaped many of my tastes and introduced me to categories of games I might never have played otherwise. For that reason, it will always be my favorite handheld.

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