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Top 6 Saturday: Reasons Why Handhelds Trump the New Consoles

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With the holiday rush in full effect, millions of eager consumers are just itching to get their hands on the newest pieces of technology available. Game systems are no exception, as the new console hype train is full speed ahead. However, under the glitz and glamor of the new hardware reveals a fairly common problem for new consoles – software. There simply isn’t enough quality software on either machine to justify a $400 or $500 purchase.

Enter: handhelds. Previously thought to be a dying breed, both the Nintendo 3DS and PlayStation Vita offer more than enough games for a dozen holiday seasons. Put down your launch goggles and embrace your handheld masters while we explain exactly why they’re worth the investment.

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PlayStation Plus!!!

Call is desperation, call it bribery, call it a gift – it doesn’t matter, because PlayStation Plus delivers more free and discounted games than a bleeding out Blockbuster. For $50 a year, you get a lovely smattering of features with the most prolific being the free stuff. This one purchase applies to the PS3, PS4, and Vita, so you really have no excuse if you own even one of these devices.

With the spotlight on the Vita, Sony delivered on its PlayStation Plus service. Platform-defining titles like Uncharted: Golden Abyss and Gravity Rush have been free since the service was introduced, and killer titles like Hotline Miami, Disgaea 3, Rayman Origins, and Soul Sacrifice get cycled through on a monthy basis. On top of the freebies, titles get discounted just as frequently. You’ll end up with more games than you can keep up with, especially when large titles like Soul Sacrifice bubble to the surface.

Top 6 Saturday

You can get a Vita and a 3DS for less than a PlayStation 4

From a price perspective, this is a no-brainer. You can find yourself a Vita for $200, and a Nintendo 3DS for $170 – that’s without scouring sites like Craigslist at that. What you’re given is $30 less than the PlayStation 4, the cheaper of the two current-gen juggernauts.

The new consoles are just that, new. They’re pricey, and are largely meant for the hardcore consumer or tech junkie to splurge on. Both the 3DS and Vita have had time to simmer and go through a couple price cuts. Couple that with newer (and even cheaper) models, and you’ll have a lot more cash to spend on games when all is said and done.

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Nintendo 3DS has a gigantic library, and the Vita’s is nothing to scoff at

Hardware needs software to back it up, and both handhelds do this especially well. Let’s focus on Nintendo for now. In 2013 alone, we’ve seen fantastic additions to the following franchises: The Legend of Zelda, Luigi’s Mansion, Fire Emblem, Shin Megami Tensei, Pokemon, Animal Crossing, Etrian Odyssee, Monster Hunter, Phoenix Wright, Mario & Luigi, and Donkey Kong Country. Take a minute to soak that in. There’s a more varied selection on Nintendo 3DS than there are on most consoles ever, so please, take your pick, there’s a little something for everyone.

Don’t let that dissuade you from Sony’s corner, though. Great titles like Killzone Mercenary and Tearaway prove that it’s not just PlayStation Plus that makes the Vita special. That being said, PlayStation Plus again gives you all sorts of games to stuff your Vita with, building your library to a halfway decent size.

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Indie games!

The amount of small-time, ambitious games on both handheld platforms are myriad. The Vita features killer titles like Terraria, Hotline Miami, and Spelunky, which offer countless hours of fun. The Nintendo 3DS isn’t left out in the cold, either. Titles like Cave Story, Shovel Knight and Shantae make it worthwhile, as well. These titles aren’t pricey, and offer a unique experience compared to the usual AAA games.

The momentum for these games don’t stop with currently released titles, either. More and more indie games that hit the PS3, PS4, and even Wii U will make their way to the handhelds as they release. With the advent of the aforementioned PlayStation Plus, this will make these cheap, fun games even less expensive.

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Physically, the feel of the two handhelds are the best handhelds have felt in a long time. With handhelds, you aren’t tethered to the television. Both systems last hours away from a power source, and make titles like Persona 4 Golden and Fire Emblem: Awakening feel much more digestible. JRPGs feel right at home on the mobile front, and with Pokemon and Persona representing the systems well, don’t expect the genre to slow down any time soon.

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The Focus on Games

Yes, both handhelds have Netflix capabilities, but by and large, they have a much larger focus on actual video games than both the PlayStation 4 and the Xbox One. All sorts of RPGs, platformers, adventure titles, and even a shooter or two line physical and digital retailers for handhelds. The amount of games available on both platforms heavily outweighs the number thrown up on the Xbox One or PlayStation 4.

With the PlayStation 4 and especially Xbox One, we’re seeing an increasing focus with multimedia, television, film, and all sorts of non-gaming needs. This isn’t inherently a bad thing, but it makes the 3DS and Vita more appealing to your typical gamer.

Top 6 Saturday is a weekly feature here at Front Towards Gamer. Named for our founder, Stephen “ShanghaiSix” Machuga, the Top 6 Saturday is our countdown of the top six things that are relevant that week. It’s like a Top 10, but not quite as robust!

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