Handheld game console

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A handheld game console is a portable electronic device for playing video games. Unlike console video games, the controls, screen and speakers are all part of a single unit. The first handheld game console with interchangeable cartridges was the Milton Bradley Microvision which was released in 1979. Since 1989, Nintendo has dominated the handheld market with the release of the Game Boy, and is often credited as popularizing the handheld console medium.


Microvision (1979)

Milton Bradley released the Microvision in 1979. Only 13 games were ever released for the system.

Nintendo Game Boy (1989)

In 1989, Nintendo released its first Game Boy system which was a non-backlit, monochrome graphics based game system. The Game Boy was a tremendous commercial success in spite of criticism about its crude graphics and short battery life. By 1992, more then 25 million Game Boys were sold worldwide.

Atari Lynx (1989)

The Atari Lynx was the first color handheld portable console released. It was also the first handheld system to have a backlight. The system had many unique features that included the ability to turn the system upside down to accommodate left handed players, network support for up to 18 players, and significantly advanced hardware for the time. The downfall to these features was a high price that kept the popularity of the system down.

Sega Game Gear (1991)

The Sega Game Gear was released in Japan in 1990 and in North America and Europe in 1991. It was a color, backlit console and was based on the Sega Master System, which gave Sega the ability to quickly create Game Gear games from its large library of games for the Master System. It did not gain a large quantity of the market share that was dominated by Nintendo.

Game Boy Color (1998)

The Game Boy Color featured a color screen, and was only slightly smaller than the Game Boy Pocket, a smaller version of the original Game Boy system. The processor was twice as fast as a Game Boy, and had twice as much memory. It also had an infrared communications port for wireless linking which did not appear in later versions of the Game Boy.

Game Boy Advance (2001)

The Game Boy Advance was seen as a significant stride over the Game Boy Color. It featured a larger screen, two additional bumper buttons on the top, and improved graphics quality and colors. The Game Boy Advance was also the first handheld console to feature connectivity as a controller for a traditional video game console (in this case the Gamecube). As of December 31, 2006, the GBA, GBA SP, and the Game Boy Micro have sold 78.86 million units worldwide

Nokia N-Gage (2003)

The N-Gage was designed by Nokia to be a combination handheld console, MP3 player, radio, PDA and phone. It was critically derided for its awkward design and the necessity to remove the battery to change game cartridges. A redesign of the console was released by removed MP3 playback, radio, and USB features in the process.

Nintendo DS (2004)

The Nintendo DS was released in November 2004. Among its new features was the use of two screens, a touch screen, wireless connectivity, and a microphone port. The console also features online capabilities via the Nintendo Wi-Fi Connection and wireless networking for multiplayer games with up to 16 players. The Nintendo DS and Nintendo DS Lite have sold 35.61 million units in total worldwide.

Sony PSP (2005)

The Playstation Portable was released in North America in early 2005. Besides playing games, PlayStation Portable has an audio player that supports a number of audio codecs, including AAC, MP3, and WMA. It can also play movies that are released under a CD-ROM format sold specifically for the PSP device. The Playstation Portable can connect to a wireless network through Wi-Fi. This allows two (or more) players with Playstation portables to create a local network for multiplayer gameplay, and also allows the a PSP user to connect to the internet via an internet-connected Wi-Fi router. By connecting to the internet, players can compete against other players also connected to the internet or browse the web.