Give the Gift of Handheld Gaming This Year

I love my Nintendo 3DS and take it with me almost everywhere I go because it’s far too easy to throw a device like that into a bag and call it a day, whether your going long-distance or commuting to work. PlayStation Vita also makes for an engaging and convenient core-facing gaming experience if you can find a good game to pass the time with. Both systems account for freezing software as you do on mobile platforms like iOS and Android devices, so making a daily habit out of the latest Pokémon game or a new action game on Vita is easier than ever. What are you waiting for?

Maybe you can give or get portable gaming this holiday season. Here’s everything you’ll need along with a few software recommendations, no matter what platform you prefer to take with you:

Nintendo 3DS

While Nintendo did just announce a new iteration of 3DS hardware, there are already scores of different colors to choose from in both the standard and XL versions. If you’ve already got a Nintendo game to play in mind, there may even be a bundle with a special edition of the 3DS hardware, though some of the games I recommend here have probably long sold-out of special edition bundles. Animal Crossing: New Leaf’s Coach-esque Nintendo 3DS design will certainly prove attractive if you’re hoping to get a significant other into games, though Super Smash Bros. designs will likely wait patiently on store shelves this close to Christmas. Pick one, get it in your basket, and then move on for accessories and games.

Accessories to consider:

Case – Try to get a soft case as hard cases can be difficult to pack in crowded travel luggage. Further, Nintendo’s hardware has always taken a beaten and continued ticking so don’t be afraid to go without a case if you’re on a budget.

Extra stylus – These come in various colors, but check eBay for generic replacement styli when you’re in a bind.

Screen protectors – The 3DS touch screen doesn’t need a sticker to cover it, particularly as you’ll be using the stylus on it, but some versions of the hardware can hurt itself when closed thanks to the clamshell design.

Games to consider:

Animal Crossing: New Leaf

Pokemon X & Y

Super Smash Bros. for Nintendo 3DS

Fantasy Life

Instant stocking stuffer: Nintendo eShop gift card

PlayStation Vita

Sony’s Vita hardware has struggled to maintain the spotlight in the hardcore space, particularly as the company has sold it as a companion to PlayStation consoles and found difficulty in securing must-play software. Regardless, it isn’t hard to find a title you’ll spend 100 hours or more with on-the-go. PlayStation Vita has better Japanese development support, at times more interesting touch-screen experiences, and a few unique features that cement its incredibly attractive design. I love the big screen and dual-analog sticks as it approximates console gaming better than any other device you can carry with you easily. This is one technology gift you’ll want to give a screen protector with.

Accessories to consider:

Case – There are some really nice sleeve cases for PlayStation Vita, but you’ll want to find one you can carry a charger and games in too.

Screen protectors – With Vita’s big screen proving its biggest asset, make sure to find screen protectors that will fit properly over the face of the device and allow full touch-control too.

Battery pack – Both Nintendo 3DS and PlayStation Vita feature powerful graphics technology and as such, neither sport particularly long-lasting batteries. Solutions for PlayStation Vita will go along way in allowing for role-playing games on long international flights.

Games to consider:

Persona 4 Golden

Soul Sacrifice Delta

God of War Collection

Killzone: Mercenary

Instant stocking stuffer: PlayStation Plus subscription card

iOS – iPod Touch, iPad, iPhone

Mobile gaming has been totally shaken by the rise of touch-devices like those from Apple and that’s evident in the way PlayStation Vita sports not one, but two touch panels. Angry Birds doesn’t begin to describe the insane variety and depth of gaming software available in the app store. With millions and millions of gamers carrying iOS devices with them everywhere they go, it’d be silly not to recommend one for anyone in your life worthy of the gift of portable gaming this holiday season.

Accessories to consider:

Case – Remember that iOS devices are on the one hand, really pretty, and on the other hand really expensive. Don’t give a gift that can’t be protected properly with screen protectors, flip covers, or other preventative add-ons.

Spare charging cable – While you could go all-out and buy an audio dock for the iOS device you’re giving this holiday season, even a spare charging cable will go a long way in keeping batteries full and players happy.

Games to consider:

Terra Battle

Plants Vs. Zombies 2

The Wolf Among Us: Season One


Instant stocking stuffer: App Store or iTunes gift card

Android – Tablet, phone, large-size phones

While it took Apple a little time to catch up, Android devices have come in a wide variety of sizes and therefore offered quite a few different gaming experiences between them. You can find Android tablets that carry as much power as a mid-tier gaming computer or tote a Samsung Galaxy Note device for big, beautiful touchscreen gaming. Android’s platform allows for a little more tinkering under the hood should your target of gift-giving love be a tech-minded individual, though these devices will prove just as easy to use as any Apple product. Don’t be afraid to make someone feel really special with one of Google’s own Nexus devices if you’re unsure about other brands.

Accessories to consider:

Case – Obviously.

Spare charging cable – See above.

A second device – This isn’t so much an accessory suggestion as it is a really expensive recommendation from me. If you’re giving someone an Android tablet, be prepared to look at it longingly from across the room as they enjoy on a Christmas morning or late on New Year’s Eve. If you know you’ll want to either play along or surf-in-style, get matching devices or his and hers.

Games to consider:

The Walking Dead: Season One and Two

Fish Out of Water

Dead Space

Angry Birds Space

Between these four platforms, you’ll want to throw that Tiger one-note handheld out the window before remembering you actually bought all this awesome portable gaming hardware for someone else and not yourself. Better get to wrapping!