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Best Portable Gaming System and Games for a 4-Year Old?


DoctorEncore
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My son is turning 4 later this month and I'm starting to allow him a bit more gaming and screen time. He's definitely a novice and still has trouble correlating his button presses with their on-screen effects. He's also not great at pushing two buttons at once (i.e. run and jump), although he is improving. We've been playing Kirby's Epic Yarn on the Wii, but he needs my help to navigate even the simplest levels.

He's still heavily restricted on screen time, but I'd be okay with him playing a game for 30-60 minutes per day. I've dabbled in portable gaming and have a decent collection of adult-oriented titles, but I'm not sure where a kid should start. I feel like the original Game Boy (and probably Game Boy Color) games are too hard for him to enjoy, so I'm thinking GBA and on. The Micro seems like the perfect size for his hands, but I'm open to getting him something as current as a Switch Lite if you guys have had good experiences with it.

Any suggestions for devices and appropriate games would be much appreciated. Thanks!

Edited by DoctorEncore
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I would say GBA sp because it is small enough that he should be able to play it easily, and it has a built in light. I recommend the AGS101 model with a much brighter and nicer backlight. 

It's hard to recommend games though. I feel like kids have a hard time until they can read. But stuff like Pokemon would probably be pretty fun and not too too difficult.

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I'd go for the GB BOY Colour. Modern day Chinese bootleg Gameboy Color. Plays all the cartridges a Gameboy Color can with a back lit screen and comes with 66 built in games when you turn it on without a cartridge inserted. Kids love bootleg stuff. If I was buying a handheld for a toddler this would be the one. 

Edited by NEET.dreams
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37 minutes ago, NEET.dreams said:

I'd go for the GB BOY Colour. Modern day Chinese bootleg Gameboy Color. Plays all the cartridges a Gameboy Color can with a back lit screen and comes with 66 built in games when you turn it on without a cartridge inserted. Kids love bootleg stuff. If I was buying a handheld for a toddler this would be the one. 

What's the build quality/durability like? I know most bootleg stuff from the West is extremely poor, but I have observed a few people rave about devices like this from AliExpress. Do they hold up well? That's my main question.

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10 minutes ago, RH said:

What's the build quality/durability like? I know most bootleg stuff from the West is extremely poor, but I have observed a few people rave about devices like this from AliExpress. Do they hold up well? That's my main question.

I don't actually own one myself... yet. I've watched a lot of youtube reviews of it tho and they all say it's a quality product. 

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2 hours ago, Makar said:

I would say GBA sp because it is small enough that he should be able to play it easily, and it has a built in light. I recommend the AGS101 model with a much brighter and nicer backlight. 

It's hard to recommend games though. I feel like kids have a hard time until they can read. But stuff like Pokemon would probably be pretty fun and not too too difficult.

GBA SP makes a lot of sense given the size, the better screen, and huge library. Any thoughts on the Micro? I've never seen one in person.

I was also thinking the DS might be a decent option since he could use the stylus for some games. As you said the reading part really is a huge barrier to entry for modern games. I want something I can just give him and he can play without having to set it up every time.

1 hour ago, NEET.dreams said:

I'd go for the GB BOY Colour. Modern day Chinese bootleg Gameboy Color. Plays all the cartridges a Gameboy Color can with a back lit screen and comes with 66 built in games when you turn it on without a cartridge inserted. Kids love bootleg stuff. If I was buying a handheld for a toddler this would be the one. 

I'll probably stick to legit stuff, although the idea of not having to constantly change the cart for him is extremely appealing...

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5 minutes ago, DoctorEncore said:

GBA SP makes a lot of sense given the size, the better screen, and huge library. Any thoughts on the Micro? I've never seen one in person.

I was also thinking the DS might be a decent option since he could use the stylus for some games. As you said the reading part really is a huge barrier to entry for modern games. I want something I can just give him and he can play without having to set it up every time.

I'll probably stick to legit stuff, although the idea of not having to constantly change the cart for him is extremely appealing...

The micro is almost too small imo and on top of that isn't backwards compatible with Gameboy games like the GBA sp is. 

The DS has the best library of any system imo but is beefier and might be more overwhelming at first. And I actually really dislike stylus controls

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17 hours ago, Makar said:

The micro is almost too small imo and on top of that isn't backwards compatible with Gameboy games like the GBA sp is. 

The DS has the best library of any system imo but is beefier and might be more overwhelming at first. And I actually really dislike stylus controls

The Micro did always look extremely small to me, but I've never seen one in person. That being said, he probably wouldn't care since right now he plays these terrible games on a 1" screen on his cheap kids' camera. I cringe when he brings them over to me for help because they are so bad. We can do better!

The DS library seems insanely good, especially with back compat to GBA. I could go with one of the old school flat 2DS. Those look indestructible although I don't think they have GBA back compatibility.

Any thoughts on specific games?

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7 minutes ago, DoctorEncore said:

The Micro did always look extremely small to me, but I've never seen one in person. That being said, he probably wouldn't care since right now he plays these terrible games on a 1" screen on his cheap kids' camera. I cringe when he brings them over to me for help because they are so bad. We can do better!

The DS library seems insanely good, especially with back compat to GBA. I could go with one of the old school flat 2DS. Those look indestructible although I don't think they have GBA back compatibility.

Any thoughts on specific games?

Yea the DS is nice with the backwards compatibility with the GBA. The original DS is much more durable than the DS lite. The hinge on the DS lite breaks fairly quickly but it took 6 years before my original red DS' hinge broke. Never had anything break on a GBA SP. 

It's hard to say what games a 4 year old could play. My 7 year old niece still can't play any games well at all. My best suggestion would still be Pokemon. The whole game is basically moving and pressing A. Nothing too complicated. If I can beat a Japanese version of Pokemon diamond without understanding Japanese, then Pokemon can't be that hard. 

Now if you want something that looks kiddy, dragon quest heroes rocket slime would be fun. Harder than Pokemon though, but it's a cuter game.

Digimon world DS, Dawn and dusk are also more kiddy and similar to Pokemon but a little harder. Same thing with dragon quest monsters joker 1 and 2. Great games, just with harder controls for a 4 year old.

The actual best kid game I can think of that a 2 year old could play is Mario kart 8 on the switch with the smart steering on because they can't fall off the course, so all they have to do is hold down A and they can play. 

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