Lost In Cult
A Handheld History 88-95
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The click of a game cart slotting into a coveted handheld sits among the medium’s many small pleasures, alongside the subsequent flick of a power switch and the LCD explosion as connected circuitry spins up fantastical worlds not inches from your nose. Handheld gaming is intimate. We’re emotionally tethered to the experiences provided by these machines. They are minute in scale, but overflow with silent meaning and memory etched by their creators into each pin connector and internal battery.
A Handheld History (2022) surveyed a four-decade legacy of hardware. Now, we mine deeper. A Handheld History: 88-95 will traverse the annals of time to uncover the stories behind both your favourite childhood titles and the tumbled curios which the medium forgot. We’ll meet the mavericks who gave them life, and we’ll trace their vision through the industrial context that defined this pivotal eight-year era. So, join us on a voyage through the low-bit landscapes, chiptune sounds, and developer profiles foundational to portable play.
The Weird & Wonderful
It’s impossible to imagine the Game Boy as a productivity machine, yet the Work Boy almost made that concept a reality. Few remember the Soviet approximations of Game & Watch hardware, nor do we cite our Bible passages from a low-bit screen any more. Tiger Electronics’ empire has crumbled. Sega’s Mega Jet hasn’t been airborne in decades. And yet, we carefully unearthed the medium’s zany experiments to delight you, as all of these curios and more are uncovered in A Handheld History: 88-95.
Why 1988 - 1995?
Portable gaming did not begin in 1988. You can trace its inception back long before, traversing an era even prior to the Game & Watch. However, the late eighties and early nineties were a critical window wherein handheld play as we now know it was catalysed in an instant.
When Nintendo created the Game Boy, everything changed. Atari and Sega followed suit, and the trio ushered in a time of great experimentation that provided us with some of the medium’s most iconic titles — and even more experiences which remain heavily overlooked. For every Tetris there’s an Ax Battler, and both are deserving of equal time in the sun. Without this eight-year period, we would not have the landscape we now enjoy, and without taking a closer look at these moments, so many of their understated successes would remain unappreciated.
We all spent countless hours with the myriad iconic titles released during these early portable years. Yet, there were many others that deserved just as much time but were instead lost to it. A Handheld History: 88-95 explores the era’s hidden gems, while also revisiting childhood favourites. From the depths of SR388 in Metroid II to the chaos-strewn highways of RoadBlasters,and the cloudy expanses of Tails Sky Patrol, the rich libraries of Game Boy, Atari Lynx, and Game Gear are woven together into a tapestry of adventure throughout the book.
Our favourite handhelds leave an imprint both on our thumbs and our hearts. From a mother-son relationship told through Rygar,to the ways that Game Boy promoted diverse and inclusive play, our writers each see something different when they view these systems. A Handheld History: 88-95 makes ample space to tell these intimate stories.