29 March 2006

Casual gaming: GameBoy Micro vs. Nokia 3300?

I am now well into my thirties, and not really the demographic for the average (or at least my perception of the average) console gamer. That said, I was at Dixon's Duty Free at Stansted a couple of weeks ago, waiting for a flight to Berlin, when I chanced upon the GameBoy Micro.

Way back in the days of my youth I was one of the first few who bought a GameBoy. It was my birthday, I had some cash to spend, and under the instigation of my friend Ju, we went to Far East Plaza in Singapore and picked up one of those black and white (actually, more green) beauties. It came pre-packed with Tetris which was great fun for a while, and I went on to buy Super Mario Land. In the end though, the games were too expensive for a secondary school student with no income, and although "unofficial" cartridges were available with multiple games on board, the relatively poor game play, and the fact that you had to keep squinting at the screen to see anything even with maximum contrast, meant that it died a relatively ignominous death, sliding into oblivion in the back of my bedroom cupboard.

Anyway, back to the GB Micro, and I was amazed at how far things have come, both in the size and quality of the device. The issue with games has not changed though, and they still cost a bundle.

That got me to thinking about devices I already have which could also play games. I do not seek a full console experience and to be honest would only play games on such a small device when I am waiting for a bus or similar situation. A game to kill time. Then I remembered my Nokia 3300 which I bought a while back but got frustrated with. The major problem with that phone as a phone is that it is nearly impossible to synchronize your computer addressbook and calendar with it which I why I eventually upgraded to the Nokia 6230. However, I did miss the rather unusual keyboard layout of the 3300: I have the European edition which as a large D-pad on the left and a number pad on the right. This makes it a really decent gaming device.

It has since been superceded by the N-Gage in both its iterations, but as it handles Java games, the 3300 has a huge library of software available. And the clincher is that if you know where to look for it, much of this can be had for free. Not bad at all for the casual gamer!