I need handheld advice…


My 10-year-old daughter has asked for a portable game system for her birthday, and my ignorance in that area is considerable, so I'm looking for some advice.


I looked at the new Sony PSP. It's beautiful, but I think $250+ is way out of the price range, and, being new, there aren't many games for it.


So, what should I consider? She's probably going to be renting most of the games (at least initially). In the PC, she spends most of her time on games like zoo tycoon, though she has wider-ranging preferences on the XBox (anything from Fusion Frenzy to driving games to a bit of co-op Halo with her father...)


Comments (22)

  1. Martin says:

    You might want to take a look at the Nintendo DS, it’s also quite new but it’s only about $150

  2. The PSP just came out, hence the price point. However, Sony will have ^massive^ support in terms of games for this device (more so than most other systems). Sony is good in securing contracts for quality titles.It also plays music as well.

    The only drawback to the PSP is that I think that it is meant (meaning the games for it) for older audiences.

    You might also want to consider the Nintendo DS. It’s supposed to be rather good, and the games Nintendo makes are oriented for a wider age range than Sony (typically).

  3. TheMuuj says:

    I’d advise the Gameboy Advance SP.

    I bought a GBA when it first came out, and later modded it to have an internal light (but didn’t do a great job at the install), so I eventually replaced it with a GBA SP. Both systems have given me endless hours of entertainment.

    The Nintendo DS, on the other hand, I find very hard to hold in my hands and play, and I imagine it would be worse for a kid. Supposedly Nintendo is considering releasing a new design of that system (like they did with the GBA SP), so you might put off getting a DS.

    I never cared for the N-Gage system or its games (I like my phone to be separate tool).

    The PSP is great, but like you said the price is a bit high right now.

    So I would consider getting a GBA SP and using any money saved for getting a few games and accessories.

  4. Matt says:

    PSP is definitely the way to go – she can also watch her favourite TV shows on it by PSP-casting 🙂

  5. Dana says:

    My 12 year old daughter can’t be seperated from her Gameboy Advance, although I think the new DS is the way to go.

  6. Scott Simons says:

    I’m gonna second the GBA SP. I bought my wife one for christmas and it’s great. Most of the games seem to be aimed at kids (cartoony graphics and no sex and violence.) The battery stays charged long enough and because it’s rechargable you don’t have to buy new batteries all the time.

  7. Dave Bacher says:

    From what you’re saying, I would really invest in a PSP.

    You say she plays Halo, a first person shooter requiring some strategy, driving games, and everything else on the XBox.

    I want you to do a simple experiment. Go to a store that has the cartridge boxes out where you can look at the back of them, where there will be screen shots. Look at Ridge Racer on the PSP, then look at FZero Dual SCreen and Mario Kart.

    If you get the PSP, the games will be of the same quality as Ridge Racer. If you get the dual screen, the games will be the same quality as FZero DS, and if you get the Advance, the games will be the same quality as Mario Kart.

    Now I’m not going to say there’s anything wrong with Mario Kart, it’s not a horrible game or anything, but if she’s playing serious driving games on the XBox, Ridge Racer is going to be far more similar.

    Splinter Cell (not sure if it is in the release list or not) on PSP is going to be the full FPS, while on GameBoy it is side scrolling.

    Tony Hawk (I know this one is in it) is the same Tony Hawk as on the XBox and PS2 game units, albeit with a lower polygon count.

    I would suggest picking up a couple games and looking at them, and remembering these are 1st generation titles on the PSP, whereas Mario Kart is a 5th or 6th gen Advance title. FZero is a first gen dual screen title, so games will get better there longer term.

    Sony will be selling music on UMD, there’s already a download service for the PSP, and Sony’s released the spec. UMD is the little tiny disk that the PSP uses.

    Sony will also be, supposedly, making DVD quality movies available on the PSP, and will be allegedly selling these in stores.

    The music service is live in Japan (not sure about the US yet), and as Sony is a reasonably big label, features a lot of songs. My understanding is they are in a standard format on the UMD.

  8. Dave Bacher says:

    From what you’re saying, I would really invest in a PSP.

    You say she plays Halo, a first person shooter requiring some strategy, driving games, and everything else on the XBox.

    I want you to do a simple experiment. Go to a store that has the cartridge boxes out where you can look at the back of them, where there will be screen shots. Look at Ridge Racer on the PSP, then look at FZero Dual SCreen and Mario Kart.

    If you get the PSP, the games will be of the same quality as Ridge Racer. If you get the dual screen, the games will be the same quality as FZero DS, and if you get the Advance, the games will be the same quality as Mario Kart.

    Now I’m not going to say there’s anything wrong with Mario Kart, it’s not a horrible game or anything, but if she’s playing serious driving games on the XBox, Ridge Racer is going to be far more similar.

    Splinter Cell (not sure if it is in the release list or not) on PSP is going to be the full FPS, while on GameBoy it is side scrolling.

    Tony Hawk (I know this one is in it) is the same Tony Hawk as on the XBox and PS2 game units, albeit with a lower polygon count.

    I would suggest picking up a couple games and looking at them, and remembering these are 1st generation titles on the PSP, whereas Mario Kart is a 5th or 6th gen Advance title. FZero is a first gen dual screen title, so games will get better there longer term.

    Sony will be selling music on UMD, there’s already a download service for the PSP, and Sony’s released the spec. UMD is the little tiny disk that the PSP uses.

    Sony will also be, supposedly, making DVD quality movies available on the PSP, and will be allegedly selling these in stores.

    The music service is live in Japan (not sure about the US yet), and as Sony is a reasonably big label, features a lot of songs. My understanding is they are in a standard format on the UMD.

  9. Shane Courtrille says:

    In terms of hand held gaming systems you are going to have a very tough time finding anyone who rents games out locally. At least this has been the case for me.

    Really in terms of hand held consoles your two choices are a Nintendo which has the Gameboy Advanced SP, and the Gameboy Advanced DS. The DS is backwards compatible with the SP which is backwards compatible with the normal Gameboy but the DS adds two touch screens to the mix. Very interesting idea that has some cool games so far.

    Your other choice is Playstation with the PSP which while it currently dosen’t have alot of games, that should only be considered a short term problem. It also has the ability to play movies and music.

    If your child was older then 10 I would say go for the PSP without a doubt. It’s ability to play movies, songs, and the number of games it will eventually support make it a much better system then the Ninento. But in terms of a cheap fun system that has games for younger children the Gameboy Advanced SP or DS would probably be my choice.

    Just remember.. when you see her playing it all the time and want one for yourself.. the PSP is the place to be 😀

  10. LarryOsterman says:

    GBA or Gameboy/SP.

    Lots of games available, mostly kid oriented.

    The Gameboy/SP comes in a nice portable formfactor with a built-in LiIon battery (long battery life and rechargable).

  11. Scott says:

    I’ll second the GBA SP. They are cheap, the games are cheap and there are a billion of them. Used cartridge games don’t suffer from the same kinds of problems (scratches, gunk on the DVD/CD) that CD based games can have.

    I bought a GBA SP last fall and I haven’t recharged it yet. Granted I don’t play it every day. If she likes Zoo Tycoon, she might like Harvest Moon for the GBA. Puyo Pop is also very addictive and she can play with her friends.

  12. Derek Price says:

    I have a PSP for myself (just a kid at heart) and love it! I like being able to pick up a game when I want. The free software line up already is amazing for putting images, movies, etc. on it. There are about 15-20 games available and many more are on the way. The game graphics are amazing. It is expensive, but a really cool device – go check one out.

    Good Luck!

    Derek

  13. Sytelus says:

    You can rents PSP games from here http://www.gamefly.com

  14. Tod says:

    Consider the Nintendo Gameboy SP. Yes, it’s a few years older, but it’s got a LOAD of games available (stuff from the NES, SNES & N64 eras) and they’re reasonably priced. I’ve seen brand new ones as low as $70, but I picked mine up on eBay 6 months ago for a bit cheaper and it even came with a bunch of games.

    The new ones are:

    1. Nintendo DS – extremely limited # of games and only so-so reviews from the gaming commmunity. It released several months ago and is still pretty pricey.

    2. Sony PSP – still a limited # of games since it only released in the US a few weeks ago, but the device itself is getting great reviews. Expensive though, as you already pointed out. 🙂

    There’s my $.02! HTH

  15. ian says:

    psp with the game Lumines. psp is worth every penny and then some…. you can always sell it on ebay if you change your mind

  16. Darren Oakey says:

    don’t buy a game machine – buy a pocketpc. You can run cool games [like mine :)] built for the pocketpc – arcade game, play station through mame or various other emulators,

    and when she gets bored with playing games, she can writer her own stuff in .net <grin>

  17. The GBA has only got like a half meg of ram.

    No way it could run .net. Better get a PSP. 🙂

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