Weekend Debate: What makes a perfect handheld game? (Update)

The Weekend Debate

UPDATE: As ever, thanks to everyone for taking part. The following five posters each claim a Ninja Gaiden Sigma 2 Plus code: bidbaldwolf86 (post 6), Dante_Zero (17), silmorat1 (49), azakajam (65) and phep (113). Congratulations – you’ll find your vouchers in your PMs on the official PlayStation forums later this week.

ORIGINAL POST: I’ve been having a fun time with my PS Vita this week, catching up on a few titles that have passed me by over the last few months: Sine Mora, Life of Pixel and Lumines: Electronic Symphony. So, a 2D shoot ’em up, a 2D platformer and a puzzler. I’ll be honest – these are the sorts of games that I would probably never get around to playing on my PlayStation 3, but they absolutely shine on a handheld, and make for perfect ‘snacky’ public transport entertainment.

Perhaps you disagree, and are happier having blockbuster AAA titles like, say, Uncharted: Golden Abyss in your back pocket, rather than quirky retro oddities? Your topic for today then:

What makes the perfect portable video game?

Feel free to illustrate with examples. My favourite ever? I’ll go with… oooh… Final Fantasy Tactics.

I’ve got five download codes for Tecmo Koei’s cracking handheld action game Ninja Gaiden Sigma 2 Plus for the five most interesting or entertaining responses. Check out the trailer below to whet your appetite!

0 Author replies
lardteamaker 15 March, 2013 @ 17:05

I think Sensible Soccer might be very good for it. Or R-type

NoddingPenguin 15 March, 2013 @ 17:06

A game that may have cutscenes and a story line, but doesn’t require one. A game where if you skip the cutscenes, it could still be your Game of The Year. A game that has simple mechanics that you wont forget. Something you can pick up and play on the 30 minute train journey to work, then pick up and play again 8 hours later on the 30 minute train ride back without having to read the manual. A game that is split up nicely, so you can play little by little. You should never have to think “oh, I’ll turn off my Vita during the middle of this amazing action sequence because I have to get off the train”. So, in summary, simplicity. And synergy with train times. Good luck.

Gamesgbkiller 15 March, 2013 @ 17:11

Personally, I think the genre of the game doesn’t effect the experience
of playing on handheld. But the size and length of the mission makes a difference sometimes if you are playing for 10 minutes. I prefer playing RPG games when I don’t have anything else to do. Its a joy playing anywhere anyplace.

For me a perfect hand-held game needs to be easy to pick, for example your waiting for the bus or your sitting on the subway you pick you ps vita and play it for like 15 mins.

Then i can be simple or really advanced like uncharted, uncharted for me is a perfect example with all those chapters.

It need to be fun! And It needs to be re-playable!

And most important it cant be a downgraded version (history and gameplay) from ps3, and again gravity rush and uncharted prove that you can play a console quality game on a hand-held.

Mission-based games work best for handhelds in my opinion. Games where you can pick up and play without worrying too much about forgetting the details of the story because you’ve been away for a while and where you can get a sense of achievement even with only 20 minutes to spare for a gaming session.

bidbaldwolf86 15 March, 2013 @ 17:13

My perfect handheld games are RPGs. Yes they aren’t the ideal thing for those quick journeys but Persona 4 has been played at home, on the way to work, on my breaks and it’s worked.

I think that as long as the game can be saved regularly and can be played either in quick bursts or for a couple of hours then it works for me. RPGs on handhelds provide me with this and I can slouch at home with it and take it anywhere in the house. The games for the Vita have so far provided a good balance in the time you should or want to invest in the game.

Oh and awesome choice for your fave game. I really loved the Metal Gear Ac!d series and pretty much anything SRPG keeps me happy.


Lots of short, fun missions. In NFS:MW most races were less than 3 minutes long. If you only had 10 minutes on the tube it was perfect. If you had 3 hours spare it was also perfect.

GodOfWarGreece 15 March, 2013 @ 17:17

Uncharted Golden Abyss is best game for the ps vita


Lots of re-playability and perhaps some randomly generated events or dungeons! Something that is always changing.

Best ever is probably Tetris on the old monochrome Game-Boy… Advance Wars/Fire Emblem good too, but this is Sony forum so… :-)
as said, needs to pick something you can engage with for 5 or 10 mins when you have a break, but deep enough to keep you going for hours on-end if you do have the time – while comfortable to control to avoid hand cramp.
It should be console-quality, but not a straight copy (a side-story type) : notable examples like Vita Uncharted, God of War PSP or offer similar to console with different ‘tracks/courses’ like Mario Kart GBA, Vita/PSP Wipe-outs, Everybodys Golf
I love some of the ‘Cross’ features on the Vita, and being able to stop playing on the PS3 and continue on the Vita, like for ‘Motorstorm RC’ is a amazing experience, I hope that continues in the future (with PS4 too!)

Well it needs to be a very “pick up and play” type of game,
something that the story isn’t to hard to forget or isn’t too big on details of story.

it also needs to have good replayability,
stuff like fighting games, sport games, multiplayer games,adventure games, open worlds, etc..
usually have a long replayability value that keep the player coming back for more.

P.S. When are the next PS+ games for April going to be shown before they are added to the collection of PS+ games (srry if it is hard to understand what I mean :P)

Tomtomtomtotmotm 15 March, 2013 @ 17:20


This game is the ultimate portable experience.

You want an epic story with twists and cutscenes to keep you entertained for hours? You got it!
Only have a few moments to kill on the train? VR mode baby!
Want to hide in a box? Sure, why not!

And this is only half of the collection…after you finish MGS2’s lengthy story mode you can move straight onto the next instalment.

MGSHD collection. It only has everything.

variety is what makes a great handheld setup you can’t just rely on one genre. easy pickup like everybody’s golf and lumines to kill an hour, uncharted when you can’t get to the ps3, fifa and motorcross or alien breed when with company. plus was the reason i got my vita and can take all the credit. i love mixing it up and couldn’t stick to one game or type


Gameplay is key. While im a big fan of big story driven games on the ps3. I like games that you can play quickly for 2 mins but will most likely play for hours game like Plants vs Zombies and WipeOut 2048 which provide quick levels to play but require a lot of hours to work up that coveted Platinum trophy.


Oh well, I only play Vita when I am travelling and actually travelling a lot due to my job… Short drives in the undergound I enjoyed a lot games like SuperStardust, Stardrone Extrene, Rocketbirds, Tales from Space… Games your in fast, can play in short portions… but on long drives in the van of course AAA (story driven) games like, Gravity Rush, Uncharted and AC Liberation were rocking as hell… so a good mixture of both..

what I actually hate is some vita features… sitting in the undergound and then playing frobisher says or little deviants, where you have to use the mic or turn around the vita???? or even worse I was playing AC: Liberation tourmanaging a band.. so at night in the nightliner bunk having to turn the vita into a light… the bunk light wasn’t bright enough, so I could not continue playing…. its a handheld, concepeted to play mainly when your not at home – do programmers ever think about that?

A handheld game in my opionion should have those qualities:

Short loading screens and fast start up, there is no point to try and play on a bus for example, when you have to wait for the game sto start.

Don’t think that short missions are needed as long as it has some kind of fast save. PSP and PS Vita has the sleep option wich is handy but not always what I am looking for.

Spending your time on the go while watching a cutscene is boring, so they should be short and even better if there is a movie gallery option for later.

The genre of the game doesn’t matters that much, I enjoyed every game I bought at my handheld from differents genre.

As for peopple saying that a game should be fun, enjoyable and repetable, those are some qualities for any games not only handhelds.


I dunno this is a toughie due to the fact the PSVita has some epic games that have done a great job of keeping me off my PS3. New Little Kings story is an perfect example as i’ve put like 50 hours into it andsstill find myself going back for more. The same with Lumines and Smart As… . Mind you i’ve always been a fan of Lumines, great for those 5 minute blasts or hours worth of play. The Lumines series seems to have that nailed perfectly. So I would say the best portable games are probably puzzle based games even though I have a hankering preference for RPG’s. I would love to see some point and click adventures on PSVita soon. Games like the iOS version of Broken Sword have been optimised perfectly as has myst, riven and the Room. Hopefully we’ll see those kind of games coming to vita but if not, keep bringing me the puzzle games. A sudoku based game would be nice. ;)

P.S damn I wish this weeks prize was Persona 4. :p lol

Virgo21Child 15 March, 2013 @ 17:27

God of war is the perfect portable game, I just bought ghost of Sparta & chains on vita, nothing like smiling whole sitting on the train & some old man behind whispering to you ‘son games have definitely changed since my time, can I have a go’

Now that’s a portable experience, making someone want to play your game cause its awesome!!

ryannumber3gamer 15 March, 2013 @ 17:31

I’ll be honest, i think it is full PS3 games that are perfect for portable gaming. Usually portable versions of games are different than their usually better console versions but now i love the fact that now the Vita can play full PS3 games. Its also great how the Vita can handle PS3 graphics like Uncharted Golden Abyss and PS All-Stars. Anyway i think the perfect handheld game should have very good graphics, loads of replayability, a excellent story and great gameplay.


I have an answer, my littlebigcomment will solve this luminising puzzle, the game must be as clean and solid as the gear that plays it, but the game just needs to be as passionate made as the Playstaion the all stars that we have seen over these years. Because of this I honestly have struggled to define the perfect game :). I loved fighting games from blazeblue to Mortal Kombats captivating story, being wiped out was fun, oh how I woukd love to be a ninja, I’ve heard good words about Ninja Gaiden series! thanks for reading

My perfect handheld game is the same as I would expect from a console game, be that a story heavy action game like uncharted, or a gameplay heavy one like stupor stardust. The game has to keep my attention and not be fleeting.

Depends on the device, if it was my PS Vita it would have to be a game that is engaging in both story and gameplay; Gravity Rush is a good example of a game with a gripping story and unique gameplay, thanks to the ability to alter gravity.
If it was my IPhone it has to be fun and addictive (Infinty Blade is the main one I can think of)

bradigor1981 15 March, 2013 @ 17:46

I don’t think there is such a thing as a perfect handheld game. Just in the same way there isn’t the perfect console game, nor perfect PC game.

There are just games that are a good fit. Playing a game like Dishonored on a handheld may seem like a good idea, but the truth is it wouldn’t be a great fit. Yet games built from the ground up for a system are ideal. Uncharted worked because it was built for the system.

Yet there are plenty of games already out there that could be ported, the likes of Shatter, Critter Crunch, Chime, Joe Danger… Simple games that would work with simple controls and played for hours, or quick blasts.

One single game though that has been perfect is Persona 4 Golden, a game that has taken over my gaming life for the last month. It can be played in blasts or marathon sessions. It works as the writing is great and the controls simple. It is so involving, that you want to invest in the characters, you want to take them with you everywhere.

In my opinion, the game must be comfortable to play while laying, sitting, standing or walk. You have to be able to play it at any circumstances and still think that the game is purely awesome. Easily learnable game mechanics are also big part of portable games. The feeling that you are still as good as you were in that game a week ago, when you last played it, is something that good portable game should be able to offer. The most awesome hand-held experience i had was with pokemon games on my gameboy (rest in peace my blue friend), they were simple to play, had so many things to do and you were able to turn em off at any point and then turn them back on without missing anything and still they were so addicting :) The portable game of this generation I love the most is Garvity Rush. Seriously, I sometimes found myself turning off my PC/PS3 to play on my vita. The game was so addicting. :D


Gravity Rush is my idea of how a handheld game should be. You can save often (and it frequently auto-saves). Traveling is quick. The story is divided into quite small missions which have plenty of checkpoints and auto saving going on.
There are nice and very short little challenges you can take on when you fancy it. So there’s something to do, even if you don’t have time to sit and fully complete a mission (should you prefer to complete them in one sitting).

Persona 4 is the perfect portable game. Drop in, fight a few foes, save, drop out. Recipe for a perfect portable game is the ability to save either anytime or regularly. The ability to drop in and out is the key. I think when the ps4 comes out and you have the ability to remote play with all the games, that will revolutionise the portable gaming industry.

Game created specifically for handhled. Not some cheap port or bad conversion of AAA console franchise (like CoD:Declasified, Resistance:BS, AC:Liberation, etc.). Nobody wants to play crippled games. But if you look at what Nintendo did with Zelda on DS, that might work.

I think games like Guacamelee are perfect fit for Vita, but why it’s not exclusive for it? You need to create more games like Patapon and LocoRoco but not their sequels. It must be something new and original. Somethning recognisable what when people see it they instantly knows it’s that Vita game.

For example Mutant Blobs Attack was a great game. I want more games like this.

declan__watson 15 March, 2013 @ 17:51

Hello Fred and Co :)
So What makes a portable game good? Well like a console game, a portable game has to have great emersive feeling to it. It has to draw the player into its world and make them feel like theyre just in there world even though theyre sitting in there bedrooms or out and about.
Another reason is of course the feeing, say you put one of Quantic Dreams titles on psp or vita, it would just feel so emotional in your hands and bring you closer to the game like it was a film, because quantic dreams titles come as close as to the experiance in a film.
And finally another great reason what makes a good portable game is of course the quality. I dont mean by graphics althougj graphics are great, but the quality the developer is. Ubisoft for example, assasins creed 3 liberation is a fantastic game and like assasins creed 3 its like the mini ps3 title because the quality in texture and colour is outstanding and like quantic dreams, I makes it like a film experiance since im on...

Show full comment

Hello Fred and Co :)
So What makes a portable game good? Well like a console game, a portable game has to have great emersive feeling to it. It has to draw the player into its world and make them feel like theyre just in there world even though theyre sitting in there bedrooms or out and about.
Another reason is of course the feeing, say you put one of Quantic Dreams titles on psp or vita, it would just feel so emotional in your hands and bring you closer to the game like it was a film, because quantic dreams titles come as close as to the experiance in a film.
And finally another great reason what makes a good portable game is of course the quality. I dont mean by graphics althougj graphics are great, but the quality the developer is. Ubisoft for example, assasins creed 3 liberation is a fantastic game and like assasins creed 3 its like the mini ps3 title because the quality in texture and colour is outstanding and like quantic dreams, I makes it like a film experiance since im on topic about assasins creed I cannot wait for the assasins creed film by Sony Pictures and Ubisoft Motion Pictures, it will be as amazing as the franchise its self.
Thanks Fred!! Enjoy your weekend. :) ;)

I’d say that having console quality graphics in the palm of your hands is what makes a great portable video game. Being able to continue a game from the PS3 to the Vita sacrificing only a comfy sofa

A handheld game needs a couple of things:
1) Pickup and play – power on, hit the start button and away you go! You don;t want to be sitting through loading screens when on the go.

2) Playable in short intervals – you don’t want 20 minutes worth of cut-scenes on a 25 minute journey, you want to have game-play that is designed for short bursts; levels/missions that take 5 to 10 minutes to play so you are not at risk of losing unsaved progress (Vita’s Stand-by mode is a god-send for long games of course :D )

3) That “Just one more” effect – this links to point #2; short missions/levels that when you finish them you look at your watch… you 15 minutes of the journey left… “ok, just one more level/mission/attempt.”

Great examples – The day to day S. Link bonding of Persona 4, A round of Everybody’s Golf, playing missions in Monster Hunter Portable, and Metal Gear Peacewalker (!) :)


I’ll start by saying what doesn’t make a perfect portable game: Audio-focused games. It’s an absolute pain when you’re on the bus and you can’t hear a single line or note from the game you’re playing even with earphones.

I think the perfect portable game should be long but not so long that you can’t stop playing when needed. Good gameplay is a given and is probably one of the most important factors.

For me Persona 4 Golden is the perfect portable video game(so far anyway). You can play in small bouts like an in-game day or so, save and pick up where you left off easily. The game has some amazing voice acting but all text is shown on screen in a visual novel style, allowing you to play with no volume if need be. The gameplay is also fantastic, an incredibly addictive dungeon crawling jrpg. From what i’ve heard, the game lasts 90 or so hours a single playthrough, meaning it’ll last me a long long time for those long journeys.

A game that makes your 5 min free time memorable enjoyable and totaly awesome.Is a game that i would buy for my portable any day .


My perfect handheld games are puzzlers and rpgs. The games I have played the most on my Vita since getting it in September are Lumines, Virtues Last Reward, Persona 3+4.

I usually play my Vita at home, mainly because public transport is virtually non existant in the village where I live.

PS: Any chance of getting Disgaea 3 in Plus like US

A great portable game is something you feel you can pick up for 10 mins and make you feel like you have accomplished something. I have two 32gb memory cards for my vita, one dedicated for aaa titles such as uncharted, assassins creed and the like whilst the other is got games on it like pinball arcade, when vikings attack and urban trials, and when I take my vita to work I tend to gravitate toward the latter. I might play a few rounds of pinball arcade or perhaps a couple of puzzles in escape plan.

Don’t get me wrong though I love the idea of aaa titles on the vita, but those are games id prefer to sit on the couch and set aside a decent amount of time and not worry about getting back to work in 15 minutes.

Difficult one for me. I totally loved FFVII on my PSP. Recently I’ve been playing a lot of Knytt Underground, it was just perfect for the train into work each day. I’m also working my way through Gravity Rush but it’s difficult in places that require you to use the gyro controls, so that’s out for me. I’ve enjoyed playing through Super Stardust HD and Velocity as the levels seem to be just the right length for the train. Ultimately I’d have to go with FFVII as it’s like a great book you just can’t put down.


That depends on what u expect from a portable console. I expect an experience so engrossing that i end up at the last stop of the traintrack while i started at the beginning and only needed to get out the 2nd stop(damn u square). that said graphics are kinda important for the vita, however i take a good storyline and gameplay over graphics any day of the week.

LBP psvita is goddess . Also Michael Jackson is great cos i love rythm games only problem is there are just few of them these days . Please parrapa come back . Those games had best controls so far ;)


As far as handheld games go, I play pretty much anything, but I think that smaller, “different” games are generally more suited to it than AAA games like God of War or Uncharted. Out of all the games I have played on my PS Vita so far, I mostly enjoyed The Escape Plan, along with other games like Tales from Space: Mutant Blobs Attack, Gravity Rush and LittleBigPlanet PS Vita.

In my opinion, the perfect portable game should be entertaining, relaxing and somewhat toned down (I can think of the upcoming Tearaway).

Any game can be perfect on a hand held as long as its executed right.

Don’t add features for features sake, if you would be just as easy pressing a button then don’t map some intricate touch screen pattern to execute a move it does nothing to add to the experience.

An example of a perfect handheld game so far would be little big planet vita, it uses what it has to great effect, it does not just tack things on just for the sake of it it uses the platform it’s ons o feature set perfect.

Also great for short bursts and loaded with plenty of mini games so I think it’s an example of a perfect game for a handheld

Rogue-like rpg’s could be great for psvita. Maybe a game like dungeons of dredmor (maybe even itself :D ). It could be played for quick sessions while you are on the go but also you could play at home until the battery of your vita drained :D

Also fighting games and 2D platform and puzzle games are great for vita.


Short bursts of high impact fun. Possibly one of my favourite games on the vita is tales from space. Its got fun short levels that make you want to play more and more, simple controls so you can get immediately into the game. Its addictive enough to make me want to play plenty of levels in succession but short enough levels that i can just play for a quick few minutes. Also leaderboards help me to want to play the levels over and over.

Ragnarok Odyssey is a fun hack and slasher (i play as assassin) i like the pocket sized levels so i can get short bursts of fun on the go. I think story is a lot less important but on the other side that doesn’t mean gameplay and action shouldn’t be high. I think hack and slashers are grat on teh go and i do wish we got a new shinobi title in the vein of shinobi PS2.


As a couple of previous posters have said, RPGs are the best handheld games. Particularly with the PS1 classics they’re actually better on handhelds because you can suspend and resume your game anywhere without having to wait for a save point! I’m currently part way through FF VIII on my PSP, and I’ll play on that in preference to using the PS3 on the TV because I know I can stop if and when I need to without losing progress.

The perfect portable video game would be Chrono Cross, because I haven’t played that in ages and would love to do so again. Xenogears might be an even better game, but since I replayed that last year, CC gets the nod.

(in the unlikely event that this is considered one of the top 5, please give the code to someone else – I don’t have a Vita *yet*)

Dear Perfect handheld game,

Take my life away, I can’t wait for the day, come to my Vita, I pray.. O mighty Patapon, I pray.

When you come, they will see me hum, for you my love is undone.

Yes guys, I will hum, PATA PATA PATA PON and you walk into my Vita as I ask you to stun, how will you stun? PON PON PATA PON.

To my perfect handheld game, Patapon Vita [TBA].

This is what a perfect handheld game should do.. It should take your life away.

Great question; one I was considering myself just this week as I too was catching up on a plethora of games at my disposal (including Lumines!)

Even funnier that you should mention Golden Abyss as I’ve just (finally) completed it!

So I think I’m in a pretty good position to say what I feel makes the perfect handheld game.

Over the years, hand held gaming as come leaps and bounds, from the GameBoy – to colour (color. Groan), the DS and every variation, and then the PSP and recently the PS Vita. I’m literally amazed at some of the awesome games available on the Vita, both in terms of quality and quantity – some are far better than actual console games.

So what makes the perfect game? Is it convenience, or length, or replayability, or extra features, or maybe even using the full spectrum of accessories available (such as rear and front touch screen, six axis, cameras). Well. It’s all of the above.



I’m not the biggest fan of RPGs, but fully enjoy being immersed in the storylines of Golden Abyss, Metal Gear Solid, and Book of Memories; but equally enjoy the quirkiness of LittleBigPlanet (my favourite PSV game – some wonderful user created levels on there. Truly awesome).

For a game to suck me into that world when I’m commuting on the train daily, and for me to notice people looking over my shoulder in awe at the games I’m playing makes it SO very worth it. I even made a friend from a stranger who saw me playing Metal Gear Solid HD!

I’d like to see more RPG on the Vita (Tales of, Final Fantasy, Suikoden,..), as well as more and more indie games (good job for indie support Sony!)! I can’t wait to play Binding of Isaac or Lone Survivor on the Vita!
Can’t you make something to get the 2 Tales of Vita games here ? That would be awesome!


Best handheld game should start in nanoseconds. I believe its possible with PSVita. Game should serialize last autosave RAM and hw state, so next start must throw user right in pause menu with all game content loaded. No one want to look at the warning or logo on the go, it`s a waste of time. Just press start and play.


A perfect handheld game is one that allows you to explore in small amounts if you like ideally something like Skyrim would be ace (imagine that on a handheld……….sorry I was getting a bit excited just thinking if that would ever happen!) – its a game that allows you to save at any point (basically allowing you to dip in as and when you feel). The game is soo immersive, basic escapism…

However if you don’t like that sort of thang then it has to be puzzle (like Lumines Tetris) or sports sim like game – such as tennis, golf, footy etc – it would be a game that you can enjoy on your own or vs online, a game that has lots of replayability is essential.

Most important is that you have the option to play and save in small amounts because you do need to keep an eye on your battery power!

I cant think of a memorable handheld game that wasnt Asian o_O. I think something that either has no story, ie Monster Hunter (Soul Sacrafice would have been an awesome and apt prize btw x_X) or offers an experience that is perhaps similar to, but not available on my PS3 such as Crisis Core.
being able to “pause” for a long period of time and come back to something helps which is why Monster Hunter is good, most simply combos are easy to pull off and simply work.
As for the “best” handheld game? Pokemon Crystal, followed by Red which way back in the day sold me my first handheld at Disneyland no less o_O

What are the “worst”? straight ports. Lazy remakes. for the PSP it had to be shooters, given the one analoguey stick I cant think of one that wasnt hella awkward. Ones where features are dumbed down. Short repetitive minigames.

Load all

We close the comments for posts after 30 days.

Edit history