In the 1980’s there was a real push to bring the excitement of a visit to a seaside arcade or travelling Funfair games booth to the living room. Computer games were still quite rare and were generally only things like Pong but the handheld games console was truly the way to enjoy decent graphics and slick game play. At first most were simple Space Invader/Space War derivatives. The player had a five by five inch screen and with a handful of lives, a tiny joystick and a fire button they would give battle to the relentless alien hordes hell bent on world domination, although as their wasn’t a “chat to alien hordes ambassador and discuss reasons for the invasion” it was impossible to know what their motivation for attacking was.
Due to the complete inability of the systems to carry memory you could end up with a huge amount of handheld consoles each with an individual game. It would be at this point your Dad would finally baulk at the massive cost amount of batteries that was eating up the household budget. To make matters worse some of them needed 2 to 4 expensive 9 volt jobs. Luckily Grandstand, the main creator and licensor of the games, produced an electronic adaptor so you could run the thing from the mains. Although the mobile element was lost at least the cost of the unit was buried deep in the myriad complexity of the electric bill (and you could always blame the increased cost on your older Sisters use of the hairdryer).
Slowly the general public became bored of destroying extra-terrestrial aggressors and wanted something a bit different. They also wanted it in colour and better graphics. Out of this came the very clever Tomytronic games. These were binocular style hand held consoles that you looked directly through. Buttons along the top of the device required good hand eye coordination but this was soon achieved by the feeling of actually being in the game. Computer games were still quite rare and were typically solely things like malodor however the hand held games console was really the thanks to fancy good graphics and slick game play. Initially most were straightforward house Invader/Space War derivatives. In some ways it was the early forerunner to a VR helmet and the start of games as an immersive experience. There were no safety guidelines and the images did seem to imprint themselves on your eyes for a quite some time after. One of the best was 3D Sky Attack which saw you pilot a space tank against aliens that looked suspiciously like the Recognizer in 80’s film Tron. Real Tank Driving is a lot easier on the eyes and at https://www.armourgeddon.co.uk you can organise one. They can’t provide 30 foot enemies though.