To Buy or Not To Buy? Handheld Purchases of the Past

When I found out that Target would be selling the Nintendo 3DS for $145 up until tomorrow, I wasn’t exactly sure how to respond. Sure, the price drop is noticeable ($25 from Target’s current retail price and a whopping $100 from its price at launch), but I still wasn’t sold. Unlike DVDs and Blu-Rays, I actually don’t have that much experience when it comes to buying something videogame related, so when the decision on whether to get on this deal or not came about, the number of personal experiences with picking up a gaming system prior were few and far between (though still helpful in the long run).

Like most households, the television was a sacred piece of hardware to be shared with everyone, so the thought of having a gaming console hooked up to it only to have my time with it further limited due to Felicity being on never really appealed to me. That said, I naturally gravitated to handhelds whenever given the option, having picked up a number of Tiger electronics one-shot games before finally graduating to the GameBoy Color. I remember it was during the Pokemon craze, with little 8 year-old me still new to the concept of cartridges (oddly enough, I remember my dad being more knowledgeable on the subject at the time). Thinking back, I don’t recall my exact thought process in deciding to finally pick up a GameBoy Color, though I’m sure it was more along the lines of something Pokemon related than anything else. I was big on the card game and was able to converse with my peers on that level, but to be blunt, my peers weren’t exactly big on reading massive amounts of text and imagining still pictures fighting each other, preferring their action to be in the palm of their hands and run by two AA batteries. As such, I had to act accordingly, picking up a Teal GBC and Pokemon: Blue to match (yes, I forgot most of my thought process except for this odd bit)—not exactly my most informed first major gaming purchase, but whatever.

Off the top of my head, I honestly can’t remember having that many cartridges for my GameBoy. The amount of time I spent on Pokemon: Blue alone must have been crazy, so the thought of going through the same thing when I picked up Pokemon: Silver… yeah, I was pretty much set for the time being. The only other GameBoy game I remember picking up was DBZ: Legendary Super Warriors years later. It was on the same day that I upgraded to a GameBoy Advance, though for some reason I still felt the need to pick up an older cartridge.

I was probably at the peak of my general exposure of ads when I picked up my GBA, subscribing to Nickelodeon Magazine, Disney Adventures, and Beckett DragonBall Collector—each with their own ads hyping up the GameBoy Advance. In particular, I remember one of the magazines having a holographic picture of the GBA with an image from Super Mario Bros. 2 and imagining that I was holding the real thing. Damn you, cheap magazine holograms. Chock up magazine ads actually being effective to this purchase on top of my later one when I upgraded to the GBA SP for the sake of a decent backlight.

Enter the best and worst years of anyone’s life: high school. Magazine subscriptions all ended, and the computer being everybody’s new play-thing, I skipped out on the original Nintendo DS entirely. It wasn’t until Sophomore year that I started hanging out with a more gaming-oriented crowd and picked up a DS Lite alongside New Super Mario Bros. To say that this purchase was peer dominated would be a lie, though. My circle of friends at the time was actually pretty reliable on their tech, telling me the pros to picking up a Lite and how it was a good decision to pick it up at that time with the number of games out, blah, blah, blah… I’m sure half the stuff entered one ear and left the other, but the guys meant well and I trusted that they knew what they were talking about, which they did. I even ended up taking it to Senior Prom and played 2 Player New Super Mario Bros with my date… I probably should have let her win, come to think of it.

Going through each of those purchases, I can’t help but think that there was a single game that was the driving factor to justify the purchase of the console itself—with the GBC, it was Pokemon; the GBA was Super Mario Bros. 2 (and the rest of the Mario ports that came soon after); with the DS was New SMB, putting a modern twist to a franchise I was devoted to at that point. I don’t know if I really have that kind of connection this time with the 3DS.

Yes, there’s Super Mario 3D Land, but as good as Mario games are, I’ve always been more attached to the 2D sidescrollers than the 3D ones, no matter how linear or open world the latter ones are. That said, I started to focus on the gimmicks of the system itself: the joystick, the 3D camera, the little AR card thingies… I eventually started to look at the situation not as a gamer excited about a game, but as a consumer more anxious about the purchase being worth it in the long run. I think this was the reason I didn’t enjoy Pokemon: Soul Silver as much as I did the regular Pokemon: Silver (the last Pokemon game I played before the DS one). Instead of playing for fun, I treated each move as if it’d influence every future move I did in the game. I’d try to alternate my lineup as much as I could, making sure I kept everyone within 3 or so levels from each other instead of joyously keeping my starter pokemon leagues above the rest of my team and plowing through the competition that way. Sure, it makes sense to some degree, but at the end of the day, my lineup wasn’t strong enough to take on Red (or any of the pokemon in that area, for that matter).

You may say that all this over-thinking is a well-informed approach to the situation, but there’s just a certain thing that feels right about doing something not because it’s logical, but because it’s fun, which is really what it comes down to in the world of videogames. I mean, if you’re not having fun, then what’s the point? I still have one more day to think things through before the 3DS goes back to its $170 price tag, but I doubt I’ll follow through with it. If I’m having this much of a headache without it, it’d probably be worse with it. That and, y’know, I heard the battery life sucks.

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About daemoncorps
Gabe (daemoncorps) has been writing about anime and the like since 2005, but has been babysat by it for much longer. He primarily spends his days distracting himself on twitter or writing for Fandom Post until he realizes he has a weekly webcomic (tapastic.com/series/scramblebouquet) to work on. He also just finished writing his first full-length graphic novel about unemployment (https://tapastic.com/episode/293804).

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