Running a fan site is an often thankless task. Pouring hours of hard labour into creating a little online oasis for the object of your fascination can draw the attention of a core fan base of regular visitors, but the end reward can be disproportionate to the effort involved. Particularly if your fan site's fans turn against you.
Being something of a specialised site ourselves, we can't help but feel a kinship with these paragons of gaming devotion, and so we thought we'd list a few of our favourite pocket gaming fan sites on the web.
Gnomes Gaming on the Go
We've long been regular visitors to this fan site dedicated to one man's love of all things pocket gaming (and his fascination with the Sega Master System) and we've covered some of his posts before on the Pocket Gamer blog. The site focusses on the retro handhelds of the not-too-distant past, but also features occasional off-kilter news and reviews, all written informally with the witty and sometimes sardonic tone of a gamer yearning for simpler times.
If you own a PSP and are into amorphous yellow blobs, then chances are you will be keen to hear about Beyond Loco, a fan site dedicated to… yep, LocoRoco. The site is beautifully presented in keeping with the visual style of the game, with a wonderful gallery like approach to screenshots that puts many more established sites to shame. There to be discovered are custom levels for the Loco Editor mini-game, LocoRoco wallpapers, demos and a reasonably busy forum.
If ever there is one game franchise that has the power to inspire raw fanaticism, it's Pokemon. Claiming millions of devotees, it is little wonder that there are so many fan sites out there. One of the more up-and-coming examples is Pokemon Dream, a site that has a frightening amount of information about the series, neatly catalogued and presented. The site is due some major updates over the summer, so definitely one to watch for Pokemon fans. (Don't miss our own nascent poke-community over on our just-launched forum, where you can be one of the originals!)
Whether you have run homebrew games on your PSP or not, chances are you will have heard of Dark Alex. For those of you who have not, Dark Alex is a homebrew hyper-wizard who has hacked more PSP firmwares than you've had hot dinners. If you are interested in taking your PSP to the dark side (his pun, not ours) then this is probably the best place to start.
This is a fan site dedicated to the Game Boy music scene. Offering tutorials on various homebrew Game Boy music applications, the site could help start a symphony in your pocket in no time. There is also coverage on events about Game Boy music, with lots of cracking photographs.
A sacred burial ground dedicated to the games and consoles that started it all. This encyclopaedia of almost every electronic handheld game made in the late 1970s to the mid 1980s is a fantastic resource for pocket gamers with a sense of history.
Animal Crossing Ahead
Although not strictly a handheld fan site, Animal Crossing Ahead has a huge Animal Crossing Wild World section. There are swathes of freely available MP3s of the gleeful music from the game, as well as space for site members to catalogue their own Animal Crossing diaries. One for the truly obsessed. (Pretty much everyone who owns Animal Crossing, then!)
Rather than host content themselves, the folks at iPod Games offer a huge amount of selected links out to sites that offer games, ebooks, and other content for the iPod. There is also a handy selection of links to sites that offer region specific content for iPod users around the globe.
Nintendogs and Brain Training may be the casual titles that made the DS, but the more counter-cultural Phoenix Wright games (Ace Attorney and Justice for All) appeal to hardcore gamers who want in on Nintendo's Touch! Generations locomotive. Our pick of its many fan sites is Court Records, which we also featured on the Friday Freebie not long ago. Besides near daily updates, there are sections for fan art, loads of media downloads, and also exhaustive links to other fan sites of the same ilk.
How could we have a fan site round-up without including at least one site dedicated to mobiles? The very professionally presented Quickly Bored (it certainly pushes the definition of 'fan site' to the brink) has moved on from originally lambasting the state of phone games to including regular news, reviews, videos from mobile gaming conferences and podcasts.
If you know of or run a fan site related to handheld gaming that you think the world should hear about, add a comment below explaining what you're up to (reciprocal links appreciated, naturally!). We might eventually feature it on Pocket Gamer, and before that there is every chance we could check it out via the Pocket Gamer blog.