The Worst Ideas In Portable Gaming History

Some of the coolest ideas come from companies creating portable games and systems, where incredible features compensate for a lack of console power.

Case in point, glasses free 3D from Nintendo, touch screen and tilt gaming from Apple, and most recently, a rear touch pad from Sony for PlayStation Vita.

Bottom line, you cannot experience these sorts of things on a PlayStation 3.

That said, we’ve also seen a fair amount of duds, horrible ideas that had us shaking our heads.

On that note, behold the most bizarre decisions in portable gaming history.

Wrist straps


After plunking down $150 or more on a portable system, the last thing we want to do is attach a wrist trap to the handheld and carry it around like a woman’s purse. Yet that’s exactly what Sega and Sony wanted gamers to do with Game Gear and PSP, respectively, both of which feature slots for wrist straps.

This concept is beyond ridiculous. We can barely go 10 minutes without bumping into walls and coffee tables. The last thing we’d need is for a PSP to ricochet off something and crack in some asinine attempt at being stylish.

Nintendo waiting 14 years to release a backlit system


During the 90s, Nintendo managed to beat a handful of pretenders to the portable throne, despite the fact that the competition had significantly more powerful handhelds than the Game Boy, all of which (Game Gear, Lynx, Turbo Express) featured backlit screens.

Part of the reason why the publisher remained on top was the stubborn refusal to implement a backlight, which was kind of smart, considering those aforementioned systems wasted batteries in a manner of hours.

On the flip side, Nintendo released a Game Boy Light (a system with a backlight) in Japan in 1998 and never brought it to the U.S., forcing western consumers to wait until 2003 for Game Boy Advance SP. Sure, we loved the fact that the handheld was able to operate for 10 plus hours on a single charge, but 14 years? It took Nintendo 14 years to deliver the most wanted feature, when a Game Boy with a backlight was a Japanese exclusive? Come on, Nintendo.

Sony putting one analogue stick on the PSP


We still don’t know what Sony was thinking when it elected to put one analogue stick on the PSP. Its immensely popular PlayStation DualShock controller had already been on the market for six years when the PSP arrived in Japan in 2004. Having another stick on that system would have solved so many camera issues. At least the publisher finally got it right with PlayStation Vita. You know, seven years later.

Screen magnifiers

screen magnify

Back in the day, we didn’t have five-inch OLED screens and retina displays. We were lucky to get 3.2 inches, at best.

To prevent the world’s gamers from going blind, companies released screen magnifiers that snapped onto the systems.

To be fair, these things definitely enlarged the screen, but they were the equivalent of wearing Coke bottle glasses. They made a big system like the Game Gear even more cumbersome and obnoxious. Clearly, the designers had no interest in slimming those suckers down.

Overpriced PSP movies

psp movie

When Sony announced that PSP could play movies, we instantly had dreams of amassing a huge collection of UMDs that would keep us entertained on long plane rides. Then the movies came out, and were priced in excess of $10-$20 more than the average DVD.

Other factors contributed to the downfall of PSP movies, but cost was definitely a big factor. Sony blames Hollywood. We blame everyone involved with the system.

Nintendo e-Reader


Nintendo, despite its success, released plenty of duds, the e-Reader being one. This bulky device snapped into the Game Boy Advance and let users put content onto the system by scanning specially marked cards.

While the concept of storing NES games on cards was cool, the peripheral looked ridiculous and was incompatible with Game Boy Advance SP. So much for looking toward the future.

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