Why another Nintendo handheld with two screens would be worth it

Nintendo has experienced numerous ups and downs in his decades as a console developer. From the highs of defining what mainstream gaming can be with the NES and conquering a universal market with the Wii, to the lows of failed ventures like Virtual Boy and Wii U. Still, it holds up with handheld devices compared to had a rockier big track record in the home market.

Not every Nintendo handheld has been a complete success, but bringing games on the go has worked better for Nintendo than rivals like Sony, and the strengths of Nintendo’s handheld devices seem to have carried over to the Hybrid Switch. Being able to play games at home or on the go is likely a strategy Nintendo will push with the Switch’s inevitable successor, but it could be worth it if that next device — or a separate endeavor — evolves into a dual-screen gimmick from handheld Consoles returns past.

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Nintendo’s handheld history

While many consider the Game Boy to be Nintendo’s first handheld, one could also attribute that distinction to the Game & Watch line. These were simple in design, beginning with the Silver Series in 1980, which boasted titles such as ball, Judgeand Fire. Each release was a time killer on a single LCD screen, although, as the name suggests, the devices could also function as a clock. That Super Smash Bros. Character Mr. Game & Watch would pay homage to these titles, and special editions like a Legend of Zelda Game & Watch 35th Anniversary to be released.

The following Game Boy series would bring a number of popular series to the fore, from tetris and the Super Mario Land Play to Game Freak’s own mega hit Pokemon. After that, the Game Boy Advance family brought the kind of pixel art graphics popular in SNES titles to handheld experiences, represented by the Super Mario Advance series of translation titles like Super Mario world and Yoshi’s island.

The Nintendo DS was more of an odd step forward, focusing on the gimmick of having two screens and touch controls rather than offering powerful graphics, but it was ultimately a huge success. The DS is currently the second best selling console of all time after Sony’s PlayStation 2, with a few tens of millions in sales on the third best selling Game Boy and Game Boy Color lines. While the 3DS gained far less momentum, both dual-screen devices (and neighbors like the 2DS) were deeply rooted in Nintendo’s history and clearly riffed on the dual-screen Game & Watch line they started with oil panic 1982


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The benefits of preserving dual screen devices

While the DS era is sometimes vilified for its focus on casual audiences and abundance of scoop goods (similar to the Wii), the benefits of this marketing approach are obvious. Not only was the DS popular, it also boasted a strong selection of popular games Pokemon Diamond, pearland platinum to AlphaDream Mario & Luigi: Bowser’s Inside Story. The 3DS continued that legacy with titles like Animal crossing new leaf, A connection between worldsand Kid Icarus: Uprising.

Many games, especially early in the DS lifecycle, leaned heavily on gimmicks like touch controls. While this allowed for many cheap puzzle games or shoehorn mechanics, its unique features also led to more creative endeavors such as: Kirby: Canvas Curse or the card impression puzzle in Phantom Hourglass. More subtle uses of the dual-screen setup were also notable, from displaying additional information to cases like Pokemon sun and moon where players could see a minimap at any time. It’s also hard to overstate the legacy of the DS pushing handheld multiplayer via Wi-Fi and the DS Download Play system, although these are less relevant today.


However, the games available on DS and 3DS are still relevant, especially given Nintendo’s announcement that it will close the 3DS and Wii U eShops in 2023. Many games can be lost over time, and franchises like Metroid becomes incomplete again without entries like those of MercurySteam Samus returns – its proving ground for Metroid horror. Nintendo Developing more dual-screen systems could avoid the headache of having to adapt these titles to work on a single screen, and years of experience means new consoles would likely offer greater use of the gimmick out of the box.

MORE: Kid Icarus: Uprising should be celebrating its 10th anniversary with a Switch port


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