The best thing about handheld consoles is that you can take them anywhere and they can keep you entertained for hours with your favorite games before running out of battery. Handheld consoles are light, powerful, and easy to take on the go.
The first successful handheld console, released in 1978, was called Merlin, and sold more than five million units. The market was then revolutionized with the release of GameBoy in 1989, which sold more than 115 million units before being discontinued in 2003, and today it is an antique item to own.
Handheld consoles are not the biggest deal because of the introduction of smartphones owned by everyone today, with mobile gaming having the biggest market share in the gaming industry with millions of gamers daily.
History has been written with some legendary consoles that built memories for gamers around the world playing games on a device in their hands.
Handheld consoles paved the way for the gaming industry
1) Nintendo GameBoy
This console gave gamers a few of the most legendary games in the industry, including Tetris, Super Mario Bros., The Legend of Zelda, and more. It changed the way a whole generation spent their free time, having a huge impact on society itself.
It has been 33 years since its release and it is a nostalgic device for a huge number of people given that they have spent countless hours playing and replaying video games on it. This console was so popular that the default sound effects of the console created a whole genre of music, called "Chip Tunes," which is the creation of music using old game sounds.
2) Nintendo DS
Released in 2004, the Nintendo DS sold 154 million units around the globe and was very popular due to its innovative dual-screen design. The bottom screen was a touchscreen that blew people's minds at the time because it was new technology that was available to the public for an affordable price.
This console introduced some memorable games including Grand Theft Auto: Chinatown Wars, Legend of Zelda: The Phantom Hourglass, and more. It also introduced some unique ways of playing with friends and interacting using Wi-Fi for the first time on a handheld console.
3) PlayStation Portable
Sony needed to get into the handheld console market fast after the success of Nintendo and Sega, and they aced it with the PSP, which had all the latest technology packed into one compact body that could run big games without any hassle.
The best titles that this console brought into the industry were God of War: Chains of Olympus, Grand Theft Auto: Vice City Stories, Gran Turismo, and more.
The PSP was released in 2005 and sold over 80 million units. Users could use it for anything, such as watching movies, listening to songs, browsing the web, and playing video games. The console has accessories that enhance its functionality, including a camera, stereo dock, GPS receiver, motion sensor, extended battery, and more.
4) Nintendo Switch
Nintendo Switch is a convenient, intuitive, innovative, and beautiful device that lets users play it handheld or on a big screen, and Nintendo culminated in the best of both worlds with this console. The console was released in 2017 and has sold over 84 million units. It has a Lite version and the latest OLED version which was released last year.
Users can dock the console and connect it to a TV and play after removing the Joy-Con controllers from the main device. This was the first time any manufacturer was trying this, but Nintendo took a risk and reaped the rewards. The best games released on this console are Animal Crossing, Mario Kart 8, and Super Smash Bros.
5) PlayStation Vita
The PlayStation Vita followed a similar design to the successful PlayStation Portable and was released seven years after its predecessor in 2012. The console did not have the best sales, with 10 million units sold. It was Sony's least successful console, but even then, it made technological leaps and had an innovative design that deserved more appreciation than it got.
There were a few reasons why it did not do well, one being that it was released around the same time as the Nintendo 3DS which was a tough competition, and it died down quickly due to the low amount of games developed after its release.
It still has a place on this list because it is a spectacular piece of tech with an OLED display, a touchscreen, and dual analog sticks.
The best games released on this console were Uncharted: Golden Abyss, Gravity Rush, and Mortal Kombat, which progressively became a platform for indie games that received strong development support from the indie community.