The Century’s Top 50 Handheld Games

The Century's Top 50 Handheld Games

Next-Gen has ranked the top 50 handheld games of the Game Boy Advance, PSP, and Nintendo DS generation, based wholly on unit sales. Revenues, aggregate review scores, commentary, and more are included. 

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This list’s order and content is copyright to Next Generation and must not be reproduced or copied without the permission of the publisher. For notes on how this list was compiled, go here

Go here for the Top 100 Console Games of the 21st Century
50.
Nintendogs: Chihuahua & Friends
Publisher: Nintendo
Developer: Nintendo
Platform: Nintendo DS
Released: Aug ’05
Estimated Sales: 570,000
Revenues: $17 Million
Game ranking: 84.1%

Heavily hyped as the latest creation from the mind of Shigeru Miyamoto, Nintendogs was not really considered a game when it was released – the virtual pets inside were much closer to Tamagotchi than Mario. But you can’t play games all the time, and Nintendogs sold for what it was – a cute toy that simulated only the fun parts of having a puppy.

 

49.
LEGO Star Wars
Publisher: Eidos
Developer: Amaze Entertainment
Platform: Game Boy Advance
Released: Mar ’05
Estimated Sales: 580,000
Revenues: $17 Million
Game ranking: 76.5%

LEGO Star Wars’ breezy take on the prequel trilogy was a hit on every format, but it’s particularly heartening to know that the playfulness and love that was shown to console version of the game trickled down into the handheld edition. In a world where the GBA iteration of most games is only half-baked, it’s nice to see an effortful edition succeed.

 

48.
Madden NFL 06
Publisher: Electronic Arts
Developer: EA Sports
Platform: PlayStation Portable
Released: Sep ’05
Estimated Sales: 590,000
Revenues: $28 Million
Game ranking: 74.6%

As of yet the only PSP incarnation of EA Tiburon’s force of nature football franchise, this Madden sold on the emptiness of the handheld’s football game market, the strength of its brand, and solid review scores. The backlash against its buggy implementation was immediate and overwhelming – watch that not affect future franchise sales in the least. For better or for worse, Madden can’t be stopped.

 

47.
Spider-Man: The Movie 2
Publisher: Activision
Developer: Digital Eclipse
Platform: Game Boy Advance
Released: Jun ’04
Estimated Sales: 600,000
Revenues: $17 Million
Game ranking: 62.8%

It’s rare to see a licensed platformer get anything but an average response from the enthusiast press. This reality is even more apparent in the case of the Game Boy Advance’s Spider-Man 2, as its score sits in stark contrast to the high marks and great respect the eponymous console game enjoys. Fortunately for it, anything with Spider-Man on it did well in the summer of 2004.

 

46.
Disney’s Lilo & Stitch
Publisher: Buena Vista Games
Developer: Digital Eclipse
Platform: Game Boy Advance
Released: Jun ’02
Estimated Sales: 620,000
Revenues: $14 Million
Game ranking: 75.7%

Lilo & Stitch probably could have stuck to mold that so many other games on this list stuck to. But, instead of cribbing from the increasingly incestuous mediocrity that is the licensed platform genre, it chose instead to pilfer from all walks of arcade classic. So it actually provided a good time for all the kids that picked it up, and as a nice but ultimately immaterial side effect reviewers didn’t savage it either.

 

45.
Dragon Ball Z: Taiketsu
Publisher: Atari
Developer: Webfoot Technologies
Platform: Game Boy Advance
Released: Nov ’03
Estimated Sales: 620,000
Revenues: $14 Million
Game ranking: 38.6%

Admittedly the temptation must be terrible – you have the Dragon Ball Z license, you see its legion of frothing fans, you know they’ve been brow-beaten with terrible games for years now – how could you not take advantage of that to the tune of millions of dollars? Taiketsu was by all regard bad even by Dragon Ball game standards, and yet here it is on a bestseller’s list. I guess somebody couldn’t help themselves.

 

44.
Nintendogs: Labrador & Friends
Publisher: Nintendo
Developer: Nintendo
Platform: Nintendo DS
Released: Aug ’05
Estimated Sales: 620,000
Revenues: $19 Million
Game ranking: 84.1%

Nintendogs graces the list for a second time, and for good reason. It was one of the first products that really emphasized everything that was new and interesting about the DS – particularly the tactile closeness that a touch screen can evoke between the player and the game’s characters. Petting Retriever puppies may not be a game per se, but everyone enjoys doing it.

 

43.
Kirby & the Amazing Mirror
Publisher: Nintendo
Developer: Flagship
Platform: Game Boy Advance
Released: Oct ‘04
Estimated Sales: 620,000
Revenues: $19 Million
Game ranking: 78.7%

Kirby is a series that gets gamers both coming and going. It’s an established children’s franchise thanks to a Saturday morning cartoon, but it’s also appeals to older gamers as a Nintendo property that represents an assured quality platforming experience. Perhaps certain players can’t get past the pink guy’s unchanging cuteness, but that’s their loss.

 

42.
Dragon Ball Z: The Legacy of Goku II
Publisher: Atari
Developer: Webfoot Technologies
Platform: Game Boy Advance
Released: Jun ’03
Estimated Sales: 630,000
Revenues: $16 Million
Game ranking: 76.5%

In defense of Atari, not all of its Dragon Ball Z products are mere effortless harvestings of fan’s wallets. Legacy of Goku II was actually well-received, boasting both decent action-RPG mechanics and interesting extrapolation on the story of the TV show. That it didn’t do better than its predecessor probably speaks more to the bitter taste that game left in player’s mouths than any lack of quality on the part of this one.

 

41.
Donkey Kong Country 2
Publisher: Nintendo
Developer: Rare
Platform: Game Boy Advance
Released: Nov ’04
Estimated Sales: 630,000
Revenues: $19 Million
Game ranking: 81.1%

The franchise that acted as a lifeline to the dying SNES, most gamers have pretty good memories of the Donkey Kong Country games. So all Rare had to do to get repeat buys here was port it accurately – but not only did it do that, it added many new bonus games and additional content to sweeten the pot.  As a result, it’s represented a better value option than the original Donkey Kong Country, even though it didn’t exceed it in sales.