Top Ten Handhelds
These systems defined portable gaming, earning the right to be the greatest of all time.
Although Nintendo has dominated the handheld scene, it isn't the only company that made cool systems. Behold the top ten greatest portables of all time. Commence hate mail......NOW.
10.) Turbo Express (NEC)
Back in the 90s, we desperately wanted a Turbo Express, not because it had the best games, but because it displayed them in color, played TurboGrafx-16 console games (which blew our minds) and was more expensive ($299.99) than Game Boy, which automatically made it too high brow for our meager allowances. Bottom line, we were kids and didn't know better. Years after its death, yet another Game Boy victim, we realized that it has crappy audio and its screen is too small. That said, we still drag it out of the closet every few months to enjoy Bonk, Devil's Crush and Splatterhouse.
9.) Cell Phone (various)
Let's face it, most cell phone games suck, but that doesn't take away from the platform's success. Numerous publishers (Gameloft, Glu, Digital Chocolate) hit pay dirt flooding handsets with games, and some of them are actually good, from Lumines to Super KO Boxing! And with iPhone getting into the gaming scene, things could get crazy, if Sega's Super Monkey Ball is any indication.
8.) Game Gear (Sega)
Having found success with its Genesis console, Sega figured it'd be able to compete with Nintendo on the hand held front with its Game Gear, a bulky portable that benefited from a color screen but devoured six AA batteries in a matter of hours. Despite having some decent games, such as Sonic the Hedgehog, Return of the Jedi and Alien 3, it was no match for the underpowered Game Boy. Still, we have fond memories of blasting through levels with Sonic and shooting TIE Fighters in Star Wars. A shame Sega couldn't recreate its Genesis magic with this system.
7.) Neo Geo Pocket Color (SNK)
With Nintendo dominating sales charts with its handheld Pokemon games, it was hard to imagine SNK making a dent with its semi popular Neo Geo Pocket, and later, the Color edition. That said, it is a favorite among the hardcore, as it includes a solid library of games, such as Baseball Stars, Crush Roller, Metal Slug, SNK vs. Capcom: Card Fighters Clash and SNK vs. Capcom: Match of the Millennium. If you feel like snubbing your nose at Nintendo, this is a cool system to own.
6.) Game Boy Micro (Nintendo)
Despite selling over one million units, Nintendo didn't achieve Game Boy like success with the Micro. If anything, it was the company's way of proving that it could take the GBA technology and shrink it even further, and despite the small screen, the system is fun to use and very easy to carry. However, most gamers stuck with their GBA SPs or upgraded to DS and/or PSP, leaving this stylish machine trapped in a crowded market. We picked one up for $50 and love it.
5.) Game Boy Advance (Nintendo)
2001 was a phenomenal year for handheld gaming, and it all starts with the arrival of the Game Boy Advance, After years of slow and simple moving games on Game Boy Color, Nintendo took a SNES, added some additional horsepower and crammed it into a small bar soap design. To sweeten the deal, it tossed in large screen. We eagerly rushed to our nearest retailer to snag the Glacier model, along with Super Mario Advance, Castlevania: Circle of the Moon, Fire Pro Wrestling and even ChuChu Rocket! Too bad Nintendo didn't include a back light.
4.) Game Boy (Nintendo)
Nintendo forever changed handheld gaming with its Game Boy. First released in 1989 and bundled with one of the greatest puzzle games of all time, Tetris, the system wowed players with its NES quality graphics and at the time, portability. Sure, it displays all of its games in black and white, but that didn't matter. Buying one of these made you the cool kid on every street in the U.S., and we suppose other parts of the world.
3.) Game Boy Advance SP (Nintendo)
The original Game Boy Advance is cool, but the exposed screen doesn't react so well to hitting floors and falling down stairs. Nintendo remedied this with Game Boy Advance SP, which features a cool clamshell design that makes the system durable, stylish and compact enough to fit almost anywhere. Up until DS Lite, it was the best designed portable system in history.
2.) PSP (Sony)
Not content to play games with simple graphics, Sony kicked things up several notches with its sweet PlayStation Portable, a multimedia device that delivers a high definition gaming experience in your hands, in addition to remote TV viewing, MP3 listening and its proprietary UMD technology, which enables you to watch movies (you may also store them via memory stick). A glorious screen displays the action, and the sleek outer casing has sex written all over it (it's invisible). Sony caught heat for crappy battery life and releasing too many ports (making it just as guilty as Nintendo), but it's hard to bash the machine while playing Grand Theft Auto: Vice City Stories, God of War: Chains of Olympus and Burnout Legends.
1.) DS Lite (Nintendo)
At first, we were hesitant to purchase DS systems. The touch screen gameplay intrigued us, but the bulky, clamshell design, dim screens and weak software library had us reaching for our PSPs. Then came Brain Age, Animal Crossing, New Super Mario Bros., Trauma Center, and Phoenix Wright. A certain redesign called the DS Lite didn't hurt either, as Nintendo took its ugly machine, tossed it into the trash and created a slim and sexy new model. Soon it took over the world, leaving Sony in the dust and going on to become the best selling system in history. Proof that when it comes to portable systems, Nintendo is king.
Some people will read this list and wonder just how we missed Atari's oversized handheld, the first color portable system ever. Well, we didn't. It was never that great a machine, despite its huge screen. Sure, Batman Returns was okay, but most of the library sucked. Sorry Kung Food fans, but we declawed Lynx.