5 worst portable gaming devices of all time

Many have tried to match the success of Nintendo and Sony handhelds, but few have come close. Here are 5 of the biggest failures in portable gaming.

Since the Game Boy’s release in 1989, tech companies around the world have sought to emulate the unprecedented success of Nintendo’s iconic handheld. While some handhelds have been successful to varying degrees in their own right, the last few decades have seen their fair share of total failures.

In honor of the industry’s many failed attempts to create “the next big thing” in handheld gaming, let’s take a look at five of the worst handhelds of all time, as well as their history, quirks, and the factors behind them. its spectacular failures.

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Created by Tiger Electronics and launched in early 1997, Game.com was billed as a direct competitor to the original Game Boy and was billed as the “mature” gamers handheld. Despite the inclusion of several cool features, such as its resistive touchscreen, PDA software, dual game card slots, and limited internet connectivity, Game.com did not survive in the marketplace due to its many shortcomings.

Although it featured a variety of “cutting edge” technologies, Game.com was already out of date at its initial launch. Unlike its contemporaries such as the Game Gear, the unit did not have a color screen and suffered from severe motion blur and finicky touch controls. It also ran games at a slow frame rate. However, the system received several strange versions of popular titles, such as Resident Evil 2 Y Duke Nukem 3D.

Nokia N-Gage

Long before the era of modern mobile gaming and smartphones, Nokia sought to merge the handheld gaming and mobile phone markets into one with the launch of its dedicated gaming cell phone in 2003, the Nokia N-Gage. Although the N-Gage saw the benefits of Nokia’s solid financial backing and top-notch R&D teams, the phone ultimately failed to gain traction due to faulty workmanship and a lack of support.

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Although the technology within the N-Gage was powerful enough to truly compete with and even surpass its main competitor, the Game Boy Advance, its clunky control scheme, awkward wad-like design, and expensive price led to poor sales. . Yet despite its failure, this iconic Nokia phone remains nostalgic for many and represents an intriguing transition period for smartphone technology. With a decent game library, including a Call of Duty title, as well as Internet, PDA and media player capabilities, the N-Gage was an impressive product that was way ahead of its time.


Produced by Tiger Telematics in 2005, the Gizmondo was a striking newcomer to the handheld gaming scene looking to establish itself as a legitimate competitor to Nintendo and Sony offerings. While the device itself featured decent specs and performed well as a PDA / media player / messaging device, its limited control set and lack of an analog device hampered its usability.

However, the real reason for the device’s failure lies in Tiger Telematics and its management, which not only has ties to the Swedish Mafia, but massively manages the launch of the device. He spent extravagantly on high-profile celebrity endorsements and advertising, while failing to secure a worthwhile game library.

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Virtual boy

Virtual Boy was not only one of the industry’s first attempts to bring VR technology into the mainstream, but it is also one of Nintendo’s biggest failures. Released in 1995, Virtual Boy was revolutionary and completely undercooked. While the stereoscopic 3D technology in the unit was relatively impressive for the time, Virtual Boy had numerous shortcomings, the most notable being its form factor.

The unit greatly expanded the definition of a “portable” gaming device. The gamer is required to wear the headphones at a desk or table, and it was incredibly bulky. However, the poor execution doesn’t end there: in addition to the lack of games, the high price and the strange control scheme, the Virtual Boy could not only cause severe eyestrain and headaches for users, but its monochrome screen red and black left much to be desired.

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Tapwave Zodiac

Another product from the early 2000s, the Tapwave Zodiac was a game-centric, Palm OS-based PDA with multimedia functionality. With a single analog stick, multiple buttons on the face and shoulders and relatively impressive specifications, the Zodiac deservedly received strong critical acclaim and several “Best Of” awards when it was launched in 2003. In addition to its decent workmanship, the Zodiac received several notable ports of popular PC and console titles, including Tony Hawk Pro Skater 4, Duke Nukem 3D Y Doom ii.

However, like many of its contemporary competitors trying to break into the market, the Zodiac suffered from price, limited support, and was largely overshadowed by Nintendo products and Sony’s upcoming PlayStation Portable. As with many combination devices of the time, the Zodiac was ambitious, trying hard without perfecting anything. It was simply too ahead of its time, resulting in a total business failure.

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