We finally have our annual week of good weather which can only mean one thing: summer is here. In the next few weeks, schools will finish up (some have already finished for the summer here), and many are looking forward to going away. While we can’t go on foreign holidays, we can still take a trip to the beach, visit seaside arcades and eat ice creams along the pier. Rocky himself is looking forward to visiting the beach again. As a result, Rocky has put together a list of some handheld games to keep you company on the long road trips or flights to where ever you may be going. The list will be all for Nintendo systems (I don’t have any others) but we hope you enjoy it.
Mario Kart 8 Deluxe (Nintendo Switch)
The latest entry in the popular Mario Kart series sees you speed along gravity defying tracks, glide through the air seamlessly and propel your way through the water. The game features a variety of characters to pick from, including Mario, Luigi, Bowser, Isabella and even Link. It also features 12 Cups, each with four tracks to race across. These include a mix of new tracks and old favourites. There is also a tonne of karts to unlock, each with their own stats. Deluxe features all the tracks and characters from the original Mario Kart 8 on the Wii U, including the DLC tracks and characters, but also adds in some new races and proper arenas for Battle Mode. You can also play it in multiplayer, with each player using their own joycon. It’s definitely a great game and it’s easy to pick-up and play style make it great for short getaways.
Dragon Quest VII: Fragments of the Forgotten Past (Nintendo 3DS)
Honestly, I could have picked any Dragon Quest game. The Switch has Dragon Quest I-III and Dragon Quest XI, while the DS got Dragon Quest IV-VI and Dragon Quest IX, and the 3DS received Dragon Quest VII and VIII. I’ve decided to go with the seventh adventure for this list. Originally released on the PlayStation in 2000, it wouldn’t receive a European release until the 3DS version in 2016. The game clocks in at around 80 hours so you won’t be finishing this one in a single trip. However, it’s a great game to dip in and out of. The premise is simple. You star as the hero in a world where the other islands have been sealed away. You accidentally discover a way to travel back to the past with your friends. Here, you’ll uncover the history of your world and help to restore these islands to the present. The game features a job system, similar to other entries in the series. You’ll experiment with classes like Warrior, Mage and Thief in order to get the right balance. The game features a lovable, if small cast of characters. It’s a great entry in the series, even if its not the best one. It’s also a lot cheaper than some of the DS entries so well worth a punt.
Sonic Advance (Game Boy Advance)
One of the stronger entries in the Sonic series, the Sonic Advance trilogy brings the blue blur to the Game Boy Advance. All three entries have beautiful graphics, excellent soundtracks and fantastic gameplay. I know I’m cheating a bit with this one but I wanted to lump all three together. Sonic Advance is a solid game, where you’ll get to play as Sonic or a number of his friends. Its fast, feisty and the levels are wonderfully designed. Sonic Advance 2 keeps the wonderful gameplay of the first entry, adds in some new levels and a new character, Cream the Rabbit. Then there’s Sonic Advance 3 that adds in companions. Here, you’ll select two characters and depending on your choice, you’ll get different team abilities and different ways to navigate the levels. You can have combos such as Sonic and Knuckles, Tails and Knuckles, Amy and Knuckles, and Knuckles and Knuckles. It’s a great trilogy that I’d recommend everyone at least try and its lightning fast game play, excellent level design and colourful graphics make it a perfect fit for Nintendo’s handheld.
Fight’N Rage (Nintendo Switch)
Fight’N Rage does exactly what it says on the tin. It’s a 2D beat’em up where you just smash enemy faces into the ground. It’s hectic but extremely satisfying. The gameplay is incredibly smooth, if a little challenging in places. The game features different endings, depending on who you play as and, if there’s more than one player. Don’t worry if you can’t find another player, you can unlock AI controlled characters to get those endings. The three main characters come in your standard all-rounder, speedster and power house. You can unlock extra characters, costumes and game modes so there’s plenty to keep you coming back. There’s even alternative routes in some missions. The game features a wealth of customisable options including scanlines and CRT boarders. It’s a fun game that can be downloaded through the Nintendo store or, if you were quick, bought off of Limited Run Games.
New Super Mario Bros. (Nintendo DS)
For years we had received 3D Mario games. When the New Super Mario Bros launched on the Nintendo DS in 2006, it was a bit of a renaissance. It looked simply wonderful, blending the 3D style with a 2D platformer. I still remember the first time I got a Mega Mushroom and being blown away with how Mario could simply stomp his way through everything, pipes and all. The game featured 8 Worlds, each with their own presentation, style and hazards. Two of these worlds required certain conditions to unlock, such as beating a boss after getting a mini mushroom. The game also featured special coins to collect, an interesting feature to keep you coming back. The game is perfect for short trips and even long ones as it never feels repetitive. I felt the New Super Mario Bros. series got a bit stale after the 3DS version but this one is still a joy to play. It can be challenging in places but its never overly difficult. It’s also a great game to introduce younger players to the magical world of 2D Mario platformers.
Pokémon (Game Boy, Game Boy Advance, Nintendo DS, Nintendo 3DS, Nintendo Switch)
Imagine making a list and not including Pokémon. I’m going to cheat and include them all. Pokémon really is a series that has something for anyone. You could stick to the original story through Red, Blue, Yellow, FireRed, LeafGreen and Let’s Go! (wow, they remade Kanto a lot), or experience the wonderful world of Johto in Silver,Gold, Crystal, HeartGold or SoulSilver. Sadly, the last two have gotten very pricey. The series has so many wonderful entries from the Game Boy right up to the Switch, with even more on the way. I’ve always loved the first two generations, mainly for their simplicity and Pokémon but I have enjoyed most of the later ones too. The only ones I’ve skipped so far are Sun/Moon and Sword/Shield. The one thing I really enjoy doing in Pokémon is playing along with my wife. We’ll each get a game in the generation, work through the gyms together and trade Pokémon to help us fill the Pokédex. It’s a great series for building friendships and even though it now has the Global Trading system, it’s still fun to find other Pokémon players.
The Legend of Zelda: A Link Between Worlds (Nintendo 3DS)
The follow up to the legendary Link to the Past, you once again step into the boots of Link. The 3DS received several Zelda games, including remakes of Ocarina of Time and Majora’s Mask. I’ve gone with Link Between Worlds as it’s not only an original that’s a follow up to one of the most well received games of all time but it also has a unique ability. Link can now flip between 3D and 2D plane. Using the ability to merge with walls, Link can travel between Hyrule and Lorule, where he’ll encounter dangerous enemies, friendly characters in need of help, and find a way to stop Yuga. The graphical style does a great job of capturing the feel of the SNES prequel while bringing it to a modern world. The combat is smooth and Link controls incredibly well, something you’d expect from a Zelda game. The music is its grandiose self, with wonderful composed tracks, both original and adapted from Link to the Past. The whole thing comes together wonderfully to deliver another memorable Zelda adventure that’s a must own for the 3DS.
Streets of Rage 4 (Nintendo Switch)
Streets of Rage fans had to wait 16 years for another entry in the series but it was well worth it. DotEmu, Lizardcube and Guard Crush did a simply amazing job bringing the classic beat’em up to the 21st century. Fan favourite’s Axel, Blaze and Adam are back along with some familiar and new faces in this manic beat’em up. There’s a large selection of characters to choose from, with plenty to unlock. The graphics look stunning. I was unsure at first, hoping for the sprite-based graphics of the original trilogy but the new graphics are great. The music is as pumping as ever (I really do love Streets of Rage’s music). The game has a new combo system, Blitz moves and Star moves, so there’s plenty of ways to crush your enemies. There’s also a few different modes to choose from, including Story Mode and Arcade Mode. It’s a welcoming entry in the series that’s accessible for series veterans and first-time players. It can be played online with a friend or up to four offline, so it’s the perfect companion for a holiday when the sun sets and you’re all huddled around the Switch’s screen, working together to take down a crime syndicate (much better than hating each other after a game of Mario Party).
I hope you enjoyed Rocky’s list of games to take on holidays. What portable games would you recommend? Do you prefer handhelds or consoles?