2021 is the year of the gaming handheld

The year 2020 was one of big, high power game console: the PlayStation 5, the Xbox Series X And S Series (And, for I the Oculus Quest 2). But of 2021 new game the systems are all about assembly in your hand. Welcome back to the world of portable games.

handheld games I was in tour for decades: the Nintendo 3DS, the DS before it, the PlayStation Vita, the PSP, the Game Boy and Game and watch. But there is something of a renaissance in course on at the moment. A big part of that involves unique boutique devices that have been promised for several years and are finally released after the COVID-related production delays of 2020.

2021 is the year of the gaming handheld

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Valve’s Steam Deck is a portable and handheld PC


But more more than anything else, the Year of the Handheld is anchored to two products: Valve’s surprise Steam Deck, a handheld, Nintendo Switch-like PC gaming device; And The newest from Nintendo version of the four plus-year-old Switch, which adds a larger OLED screen.

I’ve always loved the handheld gaming. I do not enjoy be parked in front of a TV, having to choose a room for play in. When I commuted to work, I could take games with myself. In home for a year-in more, I can pick the room or place I play in.

Phones e tablet they have already made more people portable players for Well over a decade now, but this new wave of the devices are divided in two clear lines: novelty or special products and flexible or switchable products.

The steam bridge, like the switch, can play games on in on the move or docked to a TV or monitor. So also the Analog pocket, a PDA in I arrive designed to play back to the past game cartridges (Game Boy Advance, Game Boy and more) on a monitor or television.

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Is it a regression from the wave of 2020? of console high-end? Not for me, not at all. I do not play games just for bleeding-edge graphics. The game has already exploded in a million fragments of subgenera e media forms, from the back and emulations, to the indie to the AAA studio titles, online multiplayer metaverses and immersive VR / AR experiments.

I’m just happy that the idea of handheld gaming, which seemed reborn with the Nintendo Switch in 2017 has finally led to another wave of devices. Frankly, I expected this explosion of new multimodal handheld devices some years agoBut better late than never. The fall of 2021 will be beautiful busy… if you can find one of these to actually pre-order them. So far, many of these handhelds have often been sold out, or the shipping dates have shifted to 2022. Here’s what to expect.


Nintendo Switch isn’t reinventing itself, it is just getting some welcome updates. The dockable switch, which does not have changed much from 2017, gets a bigger 7-inch OLED display, better speakers, a better tripod for table gaming and a pier with Ethernet. Nintendo is betting it is worth i $ 50 price update. It sounds worth it for hardcore Nintendo gamers, but otherwise you could be just Well with the switch you have.

Read GameSpot Hands-on impressions of the OLED switch.

Sarah Tew / CNET

Based on Valve’s Linux gaming handheld is like a Nintendo switch for Steam OS. The $ 399-and-up portable games games on the via with a wide range of sticks, trackpads and buttons, but it can also be docked and become a PC connected to the monitor. SteamOS is not compatible with all Steam games, and Valve’s commitment in this experimental device it is not clear, but the relatively low level price and its possible flexibility like a Linux operating system device gives a lot to this of interesting upside. IS already available for pre-order, but delivery times they slipped in mid-2022.

Read our Steam Deck first to take.


This playful little one black-and-white toy, made from the publisher of Untitled Goose Game, it seems like a Game Boy intersection with a Pikachu and a Tamagotchi. It’s completely new system with his indie-developed games who are pushed to device automatically, as part of a subscription that arrives with purchase. The whole idea is clever, kitschy, throwback and whimsical. Also, I didn’t even mention that there is a crank in his side that works with specially designed games. IS available to pre-order now and pre-order in advance should take it this year… but for others is already postponed to 2022.

Read GameSpot Hands-on impressions of the game date.


About of Game Boys, Analogue reimagined game handheld it literally is made to be rebuilt, improved player of original back game cartridges. Analog has done this before with her console SNES and Genesis reinvented and remastered. The pocket does the same for handheld games: play Game Boy, Game Boy Advance and – with adapters – Sega Game Gear, Neo Geo Pocket and Atari Lynx cartridges. The $ 200 pocket is sharper, rechargeable via USB-C, and can be docked and play games on a TV via HDMI. The analog pocket is also planned this fall.

Read our analog pocket first to take.

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