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18 most important handheld gaming systems

A look back over 30 years: the flops and the successes

Three decades have passed since the debut of Milton Bradley's Microvision - the first handheld gaming console. We look back and chart the highs and lows of handheld video consoles.

Nintendo Game Boy Advance (2001)

By 2000, the models in Nintendo's original Game Boy line - with their limited colour capabilities - were showing their age.

In 2001, Nintendo released the Game Boy Advance, a 32bit colour handheld (still lacking a backlight) that could play more-complex, more-colourful games.

Like other Game Boys before it, the Advance sold very well.

It received two major updates: the backlit, clamshell-style Game Boy SP in 2003; and the ultrasmall Game Boy Micro in 2005.

Game Park GP32 (2001)

The GP32 from Korean company Game Park is notable for being the first handheld game console designed to allow amateurs to program and distribute software for the system with few restrictions.

Games were stored on standard SmartMedia flash cards, which made moving data between the console and a computer easy.

As a result, the GP32 quickly amassed a large array of applications that allowed users to play games from other (usually older) systems through emulation.

Few third-party developers chose to write games for the platform, however, probably because they were concerned that the relatively open platform would encourage piracy.

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NEXT PAGE: Nokia N-Gage and Nintendo DS

  1. We look at 30 years and the flops and successes
  2. Epoch Game Pocket Computer and Nintendo Game Boy
  3. Atari Lynx and NEC TurboExpress
  4. Sega GameGear and Genesis Nomad
  5. Tiger Game.com and the Game Boy Colour
  6. SNK Geo Pocket Colour and the Bandai WonderSwan Colour
  7. Game Boy Advance and Game Park GP32
  8. Nokia N-Gage and Nintendo DS
  9. PSP portable and the future

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