Best Handheld Consoles of All Time

Whether it’s for playing the classics or reliving the glory days, the handheld consoles from the last century made for some magical times. Here, we take a look at some of the best handheld consoles of all time.

If there’s one thing you can say about the handheld gaming industry, it’s that it’s never the same. Every year, companies make hundreds of different handheld consoles, and many of them are completely forgettable. Others, however, are so successful that they continue having an impact on the industry even after decades. The best handheld consoles of all time, then, are the ones we look back on and smile with nostalgia, remembering the first time we played those games.

Here Are the Handheld Game Consoles All the Time

  1. 1. The Sega Game Gear – The Sega Game Gear was an early handheld game console that launched in September 1990 in Japan and in March 1991 in North America. The Sega Game Gear was the company’s first handheld console and was advertised as the successor to the Sega Master System. The handheld console contained a built-in 32 by 40 LCD screen, a two-channel audio system, and a proprietary rechargeable battery.
  2. Sega Nomad – The Sega Nomad is a handheld console that was launched in 1999 and is considered to be the “flagship” of the Nomad line. This handheld console was Sega’s first foray into the portable video game market and came three years after the Game Gear. Originally, there were three different models of the console released which were the Sega Nomad, Sega Nomad 2, and Sega Nomad 3. All three were released under Sega’s consumer-friendly line of video game systems, known as the Sega Genesis.
  3. Game Boy Advanced – Released by Nintendo in 2001, the GBA brought forth a vibrant library of games with enhanced graphics and a 32-bit processor, pushing the boundaries of handheld gaming at the time. The iconic clamshell design, along with the introduction of shoulder buttons, made gaming on the go a comfortable and enjoyable experience. The GBA became a breeding ground for timeless classics like “The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past” and “Pokémon Ruby and Sapphire.” While the original hardware may be a relic of the past, the legacy lives on for gaming enthusiasts who can still Play GBA online using an emulator, unlocking a portal to the golden age of handheld gaming.
  4. PlayStation Portable – As portable gaming goes, the PlayStation Portable (PSP) is on the very top of what’s available for the handheld market. It wasn’t the first, but it certainly ushered in a new era of gaming. The PSP’s library of games was massive, and to this day, it continues to have a loyal following. But that’s not to say that the PSP is the best handheld console of all time. So, which handheld console is the undisputed champion? Maybe that is more subjective and doesn’t have a right out answer!
  5. PlayStation Vita – The PlayStation Vita has been one of the most underrated handheld consoles of all time, even though it’s been on the market for quite some time. When the PS Vita originally came out, it was a bit pricey, and it didn’t have a lot of exclusive games, but Vita’s library has steadily grown over time. Today, you can find almost any game you want to play on the Vita, which is good news for fans. While there are a few games that are worth playing on other systems, most of the best games are only available on the Vita.
  6. Nintendo DS Lite – The Nintendo DS Lite is handheld gaming’s answer to Hewlett-Packard’s original Minitel-a re-purposed typewriter that allowed people to make voice- and text-based calls. And like that classic, the DS Lite was revolutionary. It introduced touch screen controls to handheld gaming, and at the time, it was the best way to do such things. It ushered in a new era of handheld gaming that, unlike the 8-bit era that preceded it, would have us on the edge of our seats. The DS Lite also spawned numerous other handhelds, including the DSi and DSi XL, the latter of which we would call the best handheld console of all time.
  7. New 3DS XL – The XL is Nintendo’s first handheld to feature dual screens, with the second screen being larger and higher resolution than the 3DS’s. But that LCD screen isn’t the only upgrade the XL has made. While the hardware has been upgraded, the software has been revamped, too, with Nintendo finally adding online multiplayer to many of its older games and adding a bunch of new titles to the 3DS eShop.

Handhelds were much smaller and lighter, more mobile, and therefore more practical. Players could play games anywhere, anytime, without interrupting their daily routines, and could play in short bursts without worrying about the battery running out or disturbing others.