It’s only January but I’ve been playing a lot of handhelds lately. I have a blog coming soon to talk specifically about gaming on a Game Boy Advance. As I was editing that post, I came to the sudden realization that in 2022 I might be playing a lot on different handhelds. It’s crazy that in addition to the recently released Analogue Pocket, we still have the Steam Deck and Panic’s Playdate units slated for this year.

The Steam Deck and case on a white background

Q2 2022 – Steam Deck

My desktop computer is a few years old but still going strong. I have decent RAM and my processor is still running fine. The graphics card is probably the only weak point to my system but I have no intention of upgrading it any time soon. Since I have both an Xbox Series X and a PlayStation 5, I don’t need a powerful PC to game on. At the same time, my current Steam library doesn’t have any graphic-intensive games that would need a powerful GPU.

So, the Steam Deck is a great unit for me. I’m pretty confident all the games in my library will run without any issues (except for Half-Life: Alyx considering it’s a VR Game). While I don’t think I will buy any major 2022 releases through Steam, I could be swayed if the price is right. In 2021 Inscrpytion was the only PC-only game I bought and played via steam. Everything else was either played via the Epic Game Store (better discounts) or through Xbox Game Pass (already paying the membership fee).

Considering the Steam Deck was already delayed from late 2021 until this year, I doubt it’s going to get pushed again. If Q2 2022 is correct for my allocation, then I should have my hands on the thing this summer. I just don’t know what I’ll play on it first.

The playdate on a cofee table with some dice beside it

Second Half 2022 – Playdate

Of the handheld gaming units coming in 2022, I almost completely forgot about the Playdate, developed by Panic. This is more a novelty buy than anything else. Sure, pre-orders for it exceeded the developer’s expectations (I doubt they’re complaining about the money they’ve taken through pre-orders), I just don’t know how much I’ll actually play with it. 

Like the Analogue Pocket, units will get into people’s hands over the course of the year. Some people will get their hands on it earlier in the year (supposedly), which will dictate what happens with later pre-orders. Unlike the Pocket, only a few press people got their hands on preview units of the Playdate. Since that preview blitz in July, we haven’t seen or heard much about the unit.

They delayed the original release in early November and have stayed really quiet since then. Yes, we just got back from break but I think the long gap between any sort of news is hurtful. I’m assuming the first allocation of units will ship in March but they should consider getting some out early to press to help increase buzz. If the early response isn’t strong, it could result in cancellations down the road.

Two Analogue Pocket units, one in white and the other in black

Q4 2022 – Analogue Pocket

Since pre-ordering the Analogue Pocket, I’ve been fixated on classic Nintendo handheld gaming. I was really hoping I would be a part of their early 2022 fulfillment, but that wasn’t the case. I’m content with waiting until the back half of the year and I’m really hoping supply constraints ease up so that my order arrives sooner than expected. 

The only disappointment I have is that I only pre-ordered the unit. I didn’t put any money down on the accessories. The biggest omission from me is not getting the dock, which allows for gaming on an HD TV. I didn’t think too much of this at first, but capturing Game Boy and Game Boy Advance footage for potential videos and blogs is a missed opportunity.

I also didn’t pre-order any of the adaptors, specifically the Game Gear or Neo Geo Pocket Color ones. Yes, I don’t have games for either but both are handhelds I’ve wanted to play in the past and this could have gotten me into trying to secure some of those for future play. It’s not the end of the world, especially as games for both are on the expensive side of things.

To be fair, even if I pre-ordered them now, I wouldn’t get my hands on them until 2023. I’d rather just wait and see if they release firm dates. If it’s early 2023, then I’d be willing to wait. However, if it’s summer or fall 2023, then I’m fine just playing the standard Analogue Pocket.

The OLED Nintendo Switch

In the meantime, I have plenty of other options for handheld gaming

With all these handhelds coming soon, I also have my expanding collection of Game Boy titles to tide me over. The collection has grown a lot over the last few weeks. Plus, I still am regularly using my Nintendo Switch and Nintendo 3DS. So, I am not complaining. Heck, I even started looking at a few games only available through the WiiU Virtual Console.

Obviously, my fixation on handheld gaming could change as more console games come out in 2022. Doing a quick look, there aren’t many major releases that interest me until March (although Elden Ring in February is tempting and Pokemon Legends Arceus could surprise me). I suspect we will have a few surprises along the way, so anything is possible. But even if there isn’t, the ease of playing games on a handheld is something I really appreciate.