The PlayStation Vita releases today with one of the strongest launch lineups in recent memory for any console, handheld or otherwise. For all of the new features packed into handhelds these days, without a steady stream of games to play, your shiny new toy can quickly turn into an expensive paperweight. Come with us as we look at launch games of handhelds gone by and see what games helped highlight the novel features of the platform and which ones were nothing but a Band-Aid on a doomed console.
Console: Nintendo Game Boy
North American Launch: August 1989
There may have been handhelds that launched prior to the Game Boy, but this was the machine that started it all. Created by Gunpei Yokio, the creator of Nintendo’s Game and Watch series, the Game Boy came bundled with Tetris and launched with just four other games: Alleyway, Baseball, Super Mario Land, and Tennis. Super Mario Land went on to spawn two more sequels and introduce Wario to the world, and continued the tradition of launching a new Nintendo console with a Mario title. As successful Super Mario Land was, the real star of this launch was Tetris. By the time that the Game Boy launched, Tetris had been out for five years and had snared many in its addictive, shape-dropping grip. Tetris was accessible to both kids and adults and was shaped based, thereby sidestepping the Game Boy’s color-less display and, best of all, it was free.