Handheld Week: Top Ten Handheld Games Ever

Here at Leviathyn I am dedicating this week to handheld gaming and all its ups and downs through gaming history. Portable gaming has been through a heavy evolution. Some may argue even moreso than home consoles. When you think about what he played on the dot matrix GameBoy and look at the PS Vita or the 3DS, it is absolutely astounding to see what we can do with technology. This week we’re going to look into some retrospectives from Nintendo, Sony, and what devices like smartphones and tablets have to offer portable gaming.

Monday: The 3 Best Games for Each Handheld
Tuesday: The GameBoy Retrospective
Wednesday: Sony’s Gambit: The PlayStation Portable
Thursday: The Smartphone and Tablet Uprising
Friday: Top Ten Handheld Games Ever
Saturday: The Forgotten Devices: Portable Nobodies

Not to be confused with Monday’s piece, this isn’t a list of the must haves for each handheld. No, this is the definitive ten best games for portables in gaming history. We’ve went over the devices. We talked about Nintendo. We chatted up about Sony. Even Apple, Microsoft, and Google have come up this week. Until tomorrow when we list some of the forgotten hardware that may or may not (most likely not) have graces your fingers, it is time to take all we’ve went over and list the best of the best. These are classics and unforgettable games that should not and cannot be missed by gamers.


10. Dragon Quest IX, DS

This game is on this list for one reason: content. I have never seen so much to do, find, or build up on a portable game. They must have left only a couple megabytes of data free on the chip. Dragon Quest IX’s story wasn’t all that amazing. It could barely hold your attention if you were hoping for that. However, the sheer scope of things in the world and jobs to level up and just… damn. Story didn’t matter here and the only problem with that is I don’t believe that was the developer’s intention. This holds the throne for amount of things to do in a portable game. Absolutely amazing how much they fit in this title.


9. Tetris, GB

This is the phenomenon that started the craze. Tetris put handhelds into the consumer’s hands and led the way for future titles on this list. Why is it not higher? I don’t feel like it beats out the reasons why the others are on here. Sure, beginning the craze is huge but defining it in several ways can be even bigger. In this case, for portable gaming it is. Tetris is simple and does what it does very well. It was near addicting back in the day and even know commands a respect and grasp of a timeline classic. If only EA wasn’t trying to whore it out on the iOS…


8. Golden Sun, GBA

Think of your favorite RPG on a console and put it in your hands. That kind of effort, storytelling, exploration, and customization are found in Golden Sun for the GameBoy Advance. This is the best RPG for portables. Bold statement but no other game for these devices can match the incredible story, characters, and summoning system that Camelot came up with it. Golden Sun is a fantastic ride that is not only challenging but provides so much to change with the Djinn summons. The amount of Djinn you could find and implement onto your characters was extremely fun. A game that cannot be missed.


7. Monster Hunter Freedom Unite, PSP

This series defined the PSP. Unite is possibly the game one in the series. Keeping the PSP afloat in multiple regions isn’t its only accomplishment, however. The multiplayer aspect and epic battles are things that Monster Hunter does oh so well. Teaming up with other hunters to fight a gargantuan creature on a handheld is something that feels too epic. Too much to keep confined to a small screen? Capcom thought so as well. Monster Hunter Tri for the Wii brought this kind of experience to the Wii but the whole amazing part about Unite and its  other Freedom brethren was the feeling that you are doing all this on the road.


6. Metal Gear Solid: Peace Walker, PSP

This game is the most cinematic and amazing experience for handhelds. Peace Walker brings all the excitement, suspense, emotion, and quality of a full Metal Gear Solid title to a small screen and on the go. As the sequel to Metal Gear Solid 3, we get the continuation of the story of Naked Snake, now Big Boss. We get to see the foundation of Outer Haven and an epic story unfold in our hands. This was the Metal Gear game we were waiting for since the GameBoy Color.


5. Pokemon Gold/Silver, GBC

If I had to make a list about good sequels, this would be number one. Gold and Silver is a prime example on how to continue your series, evolve it, and make it better in every aspect. Generation 2 for Pokemon is the best one since the first and carried along with it a huge surprise after beating the Johto Elite Four and Champion. After that awesome accomplishment, you traveled to Kanto (the area from Red/Blue) to do the whole thing again and become the best of the best. Two game in one cart with the same addicting gameplay.


4. The Legend of Zelda: Oracle of Ages & Seasons, GBC

Zelda took a page out of Pokemon’s book with the Oracle twins. Instead of capturing little monsters these games differed in what powers and dungeons you would visit. In Ages you would change time and in Seasons you went from Summer to Fall and back to Spring. The Oracle games are among the best of the Zelda franchise. Heralded for their stories, unique use of existing characters from other games, and amount of weapons and items available for use. These are true, full Zeldas games that you could play on the road. The Oracle games are the best handheld Zelda games.


3. Metal Gear Solid, GBC

This was before the GBA and 32-bit graphics. Even before the DS and PSP when 3D games came to focus. Metal Gear Solid for the GameBoy Color was, at the time, the most complex and serious game for portables. This game took what the first two Metal Gear games did and infused it with the ground breaking Metal Gear Solid to create a top down stealth adventure unlike any other. The story, gameplay, and flow were just perfect. This game is one of the best portable games ever and even one of the top games of all time.


2. Pokemon Red/Blue, GB

The most addictive handheld game ever made. The Pokemon craze started here and was arguably the most wild at this time — the beginning. The aspect of collecting monsters, raising them, battling them with NPC’s and friends was just fantastic and out of this world. Everyone you knew who was a gamer during this game’s time had it. Which version? Who was your starter? Are you going to see the movie? Do you play the card game? Oh man, did you see yesterday’s episode? Pokemon was everything ad everywhere.


1. Super Mario Land, GB

This game made everyone realize what portables would be doing from then on. Your favorite characters could be put in miniature adventures. Super Mario Land started a trend that still continues to this day. In fact, Kid Icarus was just revived into a portable game for the 3DS. Kratos, Solid Snake, Sora, Link, Samus, Donkey Kong, and much, much more have all been brought onto the on-the-go devices. This game was the beginning, however. Super Mario Land’s level design, music, and adventure were just like the NES smash hit but in your hands. No kid could ask for more back then. This was gaming bliss.

There are 5 comments

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  1. Tinot

    my list would be something like

    new super mario bros
    yoshi island 2
    tales of innocence
    zelda oracles
    pokemon heart gold and silver
    the world ends with you
    dragon quest VI
    7th dragon
    tactics ogre lodis

  2. Chris McGee

    I will never forget the theme from “Super Mario Land.”  Such a cheerful tune. Super Mario Land is such a different specimen. If I recall correctly, it was by a different development team. That would probably explain why the atmosphere feels so unique compared to the rest of the series (at the time), with all of the Egyptian influences.

    “Fire Emblem” for the GBA would definitely make my list. I spent so much time on that and have replayed it over and over again. The wide cast of characters to use makes it very replayable. It’s one of those games where a lot of the most least likely characters become the strongest.

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