The Century’s Top 50 Handheld Games

30.
Spider-Man: The Movie
Publisher: Activision
Developer: Digital Eclipse
Platform: Game Boy Advance
Released: Apr ‘02
Estimated Sales: 740,000
Revenues: $23 Million
Game ranking: 76.0%

It boasts only an average Gamerankings score, but that’s a bit misleading – whereas many children’s licensed platform games are avoided by most large publications, Spider-Man had to eke its score out of all of them. That it still did this well shows the extra effort that typically goes into this franchise.

 

29.
Sonic Advance 2
Publisher: THQ/Sega
Developer: Sonic Team
Platform: Game Boy Advance
Released: Mar ’03
Estimated Sales: 740,000
Revenues: $22 Million
Game ranking: 84.4%

After the 3D Sonic games on consoles left some of its older audience wanting, the Sonic Advance games were seen as a return to the gameplay of the Genesis classics. Sonic 2 was bigger and more technically proficient than its predecessor on GBA, and appealed to both older fans who grew up with the hedgehog and contemporary Nintendo kiddies used to their licensed platformers being much worse.

 

28.
Golden Sun
Publisher: Nintendo
Developer: Camelot Software Planning
Platform: Game Boy Advance
Released: Nov ’01
Estimated Sales: 740,000
Revenues: $21 Million
Game ranking: 89.5%

The first original console RPG on the handheld, Golden Sun was seen as a triumphant return of the often-missed SNES-era role-playing. While it did play almost identically to the best the 16-bit console could muster however, it was also prettier – the time tested mechanics of the genre wrought modern. And as a happy side effect, it also introduced audiences to the charming art style of Camelot.

 

27.
Yu-Gi-Oh! The Sacred Cards
Publisher: Konami
Developer: Konami
Platform: Game Boy Advance
Released: Nov ’03
Estimated Sales: 750,000
Revenues: $22 Million
Game ranking: 58.7%

Yu-Gi-Oh! Games are almost always heartless cash-in works, a quick and easy attempt to recreate the trading card game. Things like storyline and graphics typically take the fall here, but The Sacred Cards didn’t even render the card game with any fidelity. It still makes it on the list, but it falls well short of its potential.

 

26.
Crash Bandicoot: The Huge Adventure
Publisher: Vivendi Games
Developer: Vicarious Visions
Platform: Game Boy Advance
Released: Feb ’02
Estimated Sales: 750,000
Revenues: $19 Million
Game ranking: 78.6%

Crash Bandicoot may not have been impressive on console in 2002, but his first GBA game presented a remarkable likeness to the original PlayStation products. That the game was decent may not have mattered, though – the Crash franchise still had a lot of life four years ago, even if the design document was getting tired.

 

25.
SpongeBob SquarePants: The Movie
Publisher: THQ
Developer: WayForward
Platform: Game Boy Advance
Released: Oct ’04
Estimated Sales: 780,000
Revenues: $22 Million
Game ranking: 59.5%

Another entry, another SpongeBob game, and like all the others this is another 2D platform game that it’s difficult to get excited over if you’re not six. But six year olds can beg their parents pretty obnoxiously, and in the case of this SpongeBob game, it was backed with the marketing of show and movie, so it sits higher than its predecessors on the list.

 

24.
Kingdom Hearts: Chain of Memories
Publisher: Square Enix
Developer: Square Enix
Platform: Game Boy Advance
Released: Dec ’04
Estimated Sales: 900,000
Revenues: $28 Million
Game ranking: 78.1%

Chain of Memories bridged the long gap in time between Kingdom Hearts and Kingdom Hearts II with no small amount of oddness – it was a handheld game and used a card-based battle system. But it was still a Kingdom Hearts game, meaning that it had that popular blend of Disney and Square characters and that people bought it even though its gameplay was kind of half-baked.

 

23.
Mario Kart DS
Publisher: Nintendo
Developer: Nintendo
Platform: Nintendo DS
Released: Nov ’05
Estimated Sales: 910,000
Revenues: $31 Million
Game ranking: 92.1%

Perhaps for a lack of anything better to do, Mario Kart DS branded itself with a bit of a “greatest hits” vibe. It mixed new and old characters, new and old karts, and new and old environments from every iteration of the series – though it did provide the new addition of internet-based multiplayer modes. To an audience that loves the series, this was a perfect irresistible blend.

 

22.
Disney Princess
Publisher: THQ
Developer: Art
Platform: Game Boy Advance
Released: Mar ’03
Estimated Sales: 910,000
Revenues: $16 Million
Game ranking: 45.4%

This just in – videogames are fun, and little girls want to play them too. Okay, maybe the ones we give them aren’t that much fun. Maybe they’re vapid licensed platform games, the same kind we give our little boys when they’re too into an intellectual property to know what they actually want. It’s not like there are lot of options for young females, so maybe that justifies the sales of this game.

 

21.
Metroid Fusion
Publisher: Nintendo
Developer: Nintendo
Platform: Game Boy Advance
Released: Nov ’02
Estimated Sales: 940,000
Revenues: $27 Million
Game ranking: 91.6%

Fusion came out alongside the superlative Metroid Prime, perhaps as some kind of ploy to get into the paychecks of Super Metroid fans concerned about their favorite franchise going 3D. History has since shown that both development teams came through, two great Metroid games came out at once, and left the core audience broke but in awe.