Nintendo loves to redesign its handhelds, because hey, apparently us gamers love to buy 'em, so why not? Yesterday Nintendo announced its first 3DS redesign, the 3DS XL, which looks, I dunno, okay. Nintendo's done better. A lot better.
After the jump I count down Nintendo's five best handheld redesigns, from good, to better, to the best of the best...
From back in the day where making portables smaller was the cool thing to do. The Game Boy Pocket didn't introduce anything radically new, it just did everything the original Game Boy did much better. It was smaller, lighter, had a better screen and the thing could run for days on only two AA batteries -- a major feature back before all handhelds came with rechargeable battery packs standard.
Besides all that, I just really like the old Game Boy vertical layout and am sad Nintendo apparently permanently dropped it with the move to the DS. Game Boy Pocket gave you the sweet vertical layout without the bulkiness of the original Game Boy or the tacky rainbow colors of the Game Boy Color.
The original intentionally oversized Nintendo handheld. Unlike the 3DS XL, which looks cheaper and clunkier than it's smaller counterpart, the DSi XL looks every bit as nice as a regular sized DSi, just bigger. Also, I love the chubby, pen-like stylus it comes with.
The DS Lite is still my favorite version of the DS. It's sleek, refined and just feels incredibly solid and well made (much more so than its slightly cheap feeling successor the DSi). It looks nice enough to play in public, while being sturdy enough to leave alone with a 5-year-old, which is what all handheld gaming devices should strive for.
Yeah, this one wasn't that popular, but dammit, I just like miniature things. The Game Boy Micro was designed to be stylish, and it is stylish, I really like how this little trinket looks, but it's stylish in a way no other electronics were at the time (or really any time). It looks more like a nice Swiss army knife than a piece of electronics -- a Spork should pop out of this thing.
I dunno, I just really like the Game Boy Micro and wish I hadn't sold mine.
This is, in my opinion, still the best-designed handheld system ever by a fairly wide margin. The GBA SP has that great Game Boy vertical layout, but then, like magic, it folds up into a perfect little square that'll fit anywhere you want to stick it. It's sturdy, it's streamlined, it's pretty and it's the most portable, portable gaming system ever made. Late in the lifespan of the GBA Nintendo even secretly released a backlit GBA SP that's even radder than original version.
So those are my five favorite Nintendo handheld redesigns. What about you folks?