The world of video gaming handhelds is arguably even younger than the world of video game consoles. That's why you see so many consoles from the same company on a list of the 10 Best Handheld Consoles. Nintendo has been a major player in the handheld scene since the Gameboy, and everyone else has been trying to catch up to them. Who else will challenge Nintendo's crown? Take a look at our list of the 10 Best Handheld Consoles.
The Sega Nomad is one of the only portable systems ever made that actually allowed you to play console games. It was, unfortunately, ahead of its time as it did not sell very well. However, anyone who owned it got to play blockbuster titles like Sonic 3 & Knuckles on the road, with real Sega graphics. We are only now starting to see portable console games make a resurgence with handhelds like the PS Vita. Congrats, Nomad! You snuck your way onto the list of the 10 Best Handheld Consoles.
The Game and Watch may not have been very technologically sound but it was incredibly important. These simple machines used LCD technology to play incredibly basic handheld games. However, they paved the way for nearly every other handheld system to come, including the DS with it’s clamshell dual screen design.
The Neo Geo Pocket Color was one of the first 16-bit handheld devices. It was SNK’s last video game console and it lasted only two years. However, it was cheap for consoles today, costing only $70 to buy. It was also one of the first consoles to support color gaming and to use a directional joystick. It was a powerful little device that died before it got a chance to shine.
The PlayStation Portable did far better than it’s younger brother, the PlayStation Vita. It’s surprising considering there were lots of problems with the system including heavy load times, unresponsive buttons, glitchy firmware, and proprietary usage of memory cards. Stlll, the PSP was one of the first handheld consoles to feature console quality graphics, and it had some of the best titles of our last handheld generation including Kingdom Hearts: Birth By Sleep, Valkyria Chronicles 2, and several well made PS One remakes.
The 3DS is absolutely ruling the handheld market in this generation and that's why it deserves to be on our list of the 10 Best Handheld Consoles. It has some amazing games, ranging from Super Mario 3D Land to Phoenix Wright Ace Attorney 5. Its 3D graphics are actually kind of an afterthought. No one particularly cares about the stereoscopic graphics as much as they care about the console quality processing power and the awesome games lineup.
The Gameboy Advance was the first handheld console to start developing the pattern of handheld technology that we see today. In general, handhelds are about as powerful as the console that came out two generations before it. So, while the Gamecube was entertaining gamers at home, we were getting awesome contemporary remakes of Super Nintendo classics on the Gameboy Advance. This was also one of the first handhelds to feature connectivity with a home console.
The Game Gear was the first handheld console to feature a full color screen, and it was awesome. It was just unfortunate that it required all of the batteries in the world to run. However, if you were a serious Sega gamer, you got a power adapter and plugged this sucker in, playing it like a mini-version of the Sega Genesis. It certainly couldn’t compare to the Gameboy in popularity, but it blew it out of the water in terms of power.
The DS may be one of the most successful handheld systems ever. It’s revolutionary two screen design introduced touch gaming to the masses. Whether you were tapping around the screen in Professor Layton, activating special moves in Jump Ultimate Stars, or steering your Arwing in Starfox, the touch screen was an incredible innovation and it looks like it’s here to stay.
A controversial choice? Perhaps. While it's not a true 100% games only device, the iPhone/iPod/iPad has made a huge mark in portable gaming, pushing the limits of the kinds of games we can play while on the go. Apple's devices aren't going anywhere for a long time, and with a new version every year, we can only expect bigger and better things from the iPhone when it comes to the technological power of portable gaming.
Finally, the best handheld of all time is undisputedly the Gameboy. It was one of the first video game systems to be marketed to the casual masses and it may be because of this one system that we all remember Tetris as fondly as we do now. It easily outlasted the NES in life and popularity, and brought us some of our more iconic gaming icons such as Daisy and Wario. During its 14 year lifespan, the Gameboy sold 120 million units worldwide. The puke green screen of the gaming console will forever stick out in the minds of gamers everywhere as their first truly portable gaming experience. That's why it's #1 on our list of the 10 Best Handheld Consoles.