A Handheld Gaming Timeline

With the great development from Nintendo DS in the 2000’s, handheld gaming continues to be a major force within the entertainment industry. The successes of today’s handheld platforms pay great tribute to the consoles that once dominated our lives, such as the Game Boy and the Game Gear. Sales on smart phone applications, PSP Go and Nintendo 3DS games continue to play a large role in the overall market for video games. A look back over the years proves that there have been plenty of different styles on the way to the current state of handheld gaming and just how far the sector of the market has come.

Milton Bradley released one of the first handheld gaming devices back in 1979 with the Microvision, a large machine with a black and white LCD screen. The system included ready-to-go versions of paddle games and limited play, which led to relatively poor sales. Even though it didn’t stick around, the system was used as a model for later designers of handheld games.

Throughout the mid 1980’s there were a couple more game machines, but none that really stood out. The Entex Select A Game Machine was released in 1981, but was still rather large. It was designed for two players to participate and was usually played on a table where both could sit down and see. The machine contained a vacuum fluorescent display which led to a number of sight issues and a limited amount of video games ultimately had a major effect on its downfall. In 1984, the Epoch Game Pocket Computer set the track for some future systems. It had a black and white LCD display which used cartridges. It was released in Japan, but failed to truly gain any steam, leaving the market open for others.

Before Nintendo really turned the handheld market in its favor, they developed the Game & Watch in the early 1980’s. These platforms are particularly interesting because of their striking resemblance to today’s current DS line. Individual games were released with their own LCD screen, as well as a clock and alarm. Over 60 game & watch titles were developed, as Nintendo has clearly taken strengths such as the dual screen and flip style formatting to develop their popular line today.

The industry was revolutionized in 1989 when Nintendo released the Game Boy platform. It had a long battery life, as well as a number of games available. With over 100 million units sold after its original release, Nintendo went on to develop Advance, Light and Color versions later in the 1990’s. With the upgrades made to the line, it became one of the longest running video game systems in history.

The Game Boy’s main competitor came about in 1990 when Sega released the Game Gear. Even though Atari ($179.95 Lynx at launch) and NEC ($249.99 TurboExpress at launch) had attempted to build systems to compete with Nintendo, they were largely unsuccessful. The Game Gear came in color and was considerably inexpensive with an initial price tage of $149.99 at launch. Also pushing its popularity was the fact that the Sega Genesis was widely popular at the time.

The mid 90’s saw another release from Sega with the Genesis Nomad in 1995. This came at a rough patch for Sega, when it had a number of other releases on the market. The system was one of a kind in that it actually played the same cartridges as a Genesis did, allowing for multiple platform game usage. The Nomad was widely ignored upon its release, leading to poor sales.

Nintendo developed the Virtual Boy in 1995 as the first video game console with true 3D graphics. While larger than most handheld systems, the Virtual Boy could still be towed around pretty easily. The system used LED pixels for a monochrome display, as well as controller built specifically for 3D game play. Unfortunately the reception from the public was pretty lackluster, as many critics panned that the device was ugly and the graphics were subpar.

Tiger Electronics started to become a force within the handheld gaming industry early with a series of handheld titles in the 1980’s similar to the Game & Watch. They became hugely successful with individual releases for a number of popular movies and character games throughout the 80’s and 90’s.  These individual platforms were relatively inexpensive compared to other major consoles, making them very popular. During the late 1990’s, they began to try and cover other parts of the market by developing the game.com. This was the first handheld console to feature touch display and internet connectivity, but ultimately it fell flat with a lack of titles developed.

The market was saturated with smaller name systems throughout the early stages of the 2000’s including releases from Nokia, Bandai and Game Park which were all rather unsuccessful in the United States market. Nintendo released its first non-Gameboy portable device with the DS in 2004. This had two screens including one that was touch controlled. Although first viewed as a failure, the system has gone on to sell millions and stay one of the company’s major products.

PlayStation finally got into the act in 2004 as well with the release of its own Portable device. The PSP was originally viewed as a better product than the DS, but long term sales went against the grain. Even being viewed as somewhat of a competitor, the PSP has still done well sales wise because it still offers some different aspects, especially with updates throughout the last decade.

Today, much of the handheld gaming industry is focused in smart phones and portable music devices such as the iPod Touch. The application marketplace provided by smartphone developers like Apple and Android have allowed for easy access to games that are more than affordable. The availability to games has never been easier than it is now with today’s phones.

Nintendo and PlayStation have been forced to really improve their game play with the widespread availability in the smart phone sector. Nintendo continues to try and spike the initially poor reception of the 3DS by developing more games with online availability into the future. The DS itself went on to success after a slow start, but Nintendo seemed to really miss on the initial price and first party support of the 3DS, hurting its reception.  If they would like to achieve the success of the DS over the long haul, Nintendo will likely have to allow for better virtual sales, as well as firmware updates to help  convince gamers that there is value in not just playing games on their smartphones.

Article Author: Justin Taylor


Thrifting: Found a Teasure Chest of Odyssey 2

While out thrifting last weekend, I came across nothing less than a treasure chest full of Magnavox Odyssey 2 stuff.  It ended up being a system and 31 games.  That makes up a pretty large percentage of the games produces for the Odyssey 2!  Naturally, it was something that I couldn’t resist, and I’ve photographed it for your viewing pleasure.

In case you’re unfamiliar with the Odyssey 2 (or Magnavox Odyssey²), the system was released here in the United States in 1978.  Magnavox was breaking ground in the video game world in the 70s.  In May 1972, they released the original Magnavox Odyssey as the first home video game console.  That’s several years before the infamous Pong home console was released into American homes.  Magnavox followed the original Odyssey with the production of the Odyssey 200 in 1975.

Not only did Magnavox made the leap of adding cartridges to their Odyssey², but they created several games that blended video game and board game:  Quest for the Rings!, Conquest of the World, and The Great Wall Street Fortune Hunt.  The sheer presentation and quality of these games is simply unmatched in current video game production.  Add to that the fact that Odyssey² has groundbreaking audio and speech capabilities, and these were attractive games for their time.

As great as the Odyssey² may have been, Magnavox was competing on a flooded playing field.  The Atari 2600 and Intellivision were two of the biggest competitors, and both boasted better graphics.  While the Odyssey² enjoyed some popularity and sold over a million systems, their lack of strong 3rd party developers and being a less graphically impressive system meant a challenging existence for the Odyssey².

Space is a limit right now, and I can’t say that this is something that I’m planning on collecting.  So you’ll probably see the lot appear up on eBay this weekend.  If you’ve ever thought about collecting Odyssey 2 stuff, here’s a fantastic start (See below for a list of games).

Of note is the fact that the system has silver controllers rather than the usual black ones.  Anyone know about this color variant?  (Update:  Silver controllers are an indication that the system was part of an early production run before they controllers were switched to a black colored model.)

Games Found:

  1. Alien Invaders-Plus!
  2. Alpine Skiing!
  3. Baseball
  4. Blockout!/Breakdown!
  5. Bowling/Basketball
  6. Casino Slot Machine
  7. Computer Golf
  8. Computer Intro!
  9. Conquest of the World
  10. Cosmic Conflict!
  11. Dynasty
  12. Electronic Table Soccer
  13. Football
  14. Hockey!/Soccer!
  15. Invaders from Hyperspace
  16. K.C. Munchkin!
  17. Las Vegas Blackjack
  18. Matchmaker/Buzzword/Logix
  19. Math-a-Magic!/Echo!
  20. Out of This World!/Helicopter Rescue!
  21. Pachinko!
  22. Pocket Billiards
  23. Quest for the Rings
  24. Showdown in 2100 A.D.!
  25. Speedway! / Spinout! / Crypto-Logic!
  26. SubChase!/Armored Encounter!
  27. Take the Money and Run
  28. Thunderball!
  29. UFO!
  30. Volleyball
  31. War of Nerves!

Rare Game Spotted: Unreleased 3D Game Boy Advance Cart

Here’s something you don’t see every day.  It’s a pretty fantastic looking prototype Game Boy Advance game.  It has 12 hours to go and is already at $302.54, so it’s looking like it’s gaining some attention…especially if it’s undumped.  Heck, it’s Star Wars style probably doesn’t hurt the value either.

rare unreleased gameboy advance GBA game UNDUMPED 3D (Update:  The auction ended June 15, 2010 at $302.54 USD)

Pretty interesting info from the seller sickertus:

This auction is for an UNRELEASED and UN-DUMPED Nintendo Gameboy GBA game, developed by Marvelous entertainment. The game was never given a title (or it’s buried within the game code) but is datable to about 2001, due to the enormous board sticking out the top of the cart, a style that was only used for a brief while during the beginning of the GBA’s production. The cart is an official nintendo flash cart.

The game itself is GBA Unreleased 3d polygon space shooter. Very raw/unfinished. I wrote them about it in ’08, but they had no idea what it was. Trying to find it a good home. You can fire regular lasers and large “atomic” bombs which detonate and take out large groups of enemies. Eventually you reach the “deathstar” (which you enter in a very cool and seemless fashion (good job animators). Very much like starfox/star wars here, as barriors randomly pop up from the floor and ceiling (which you must try to avoid, of course).  Everything is rendered in 3-D.  There is a sticker on the reverse for Marvelous entertainment. I wrote to them in ’08, but no-one knew had any recollection of what this game was called.


The gameboy advance is not noted to have explored the use of 3D POLYGON technology to much effect. Several 3D “engine” programs where developed Such as the “blue rose” engine.


But for various reasons, this lead to only a handful of games actually published that utilize these features ( fully rendered 3D polygon graphics). The intent of this cart remains unknown, but it is a unique bit of software, and whether it represents an aborted game, or a demonstration piece, it represents an interesting glimpse into a future that wasn’t to be, during the early development of Nintendo’s GBA handheld.

This piece has been in my collection for several years, having acquired it from a collector in europe.

Rare Game Spotted: Virus NES Dr. Mario Prototype?

Here’s a crazy looking game that I haven’t seen before.  On the surface, it looks like a prototype copy of what we now commonly know as Dr. Mario.  The game in this listing seems to be date 1989, which is a year before its release in 1990.  Digital Press seems to be working on this mystery as we speak.

In the meantime, this gem is up for sale on eBay here.  Here’s what the eBay seller Member idpeanutt42 says about the game in his listing:

I got this cart at the Mission Flea Market here in San Antonio. It was listed as Dr Mario but when I got home it says Virus.  It plays just like Dr Mario except there is a weird dog thing on the left side.  It is dirty but could be clean.  I lost one of the 5 screws in the back but there are still 4 more.

Rare Items Spotted: Gold Mario & Zelda Nintendo Statues

Nothing fetches a pretty penny in the video game collecting world quite like gold!  Every collector knows that the gold Nintendo World Championships cart is worth a mint.  Similarly, gold statues of video game characters seem to hold crazy values.  Ironically, it doesn’t matter if it’s just gold painted plastic (The NWC gold cart being no exception to this rule…).

Super Mario Golden Promotiona​l Display Figure Nintendo The guy selling this (antiquemike-japan) is asking a seemingly silly starting bid of $395.00 USD.  Is he crazy?  Who knows.  Maybe the power of gold painted plastic will compel someone to bid… (By the way, the seller states that this statue was part of a store display at one time.)

Rare Legend of Zelda Gold Twilight Princess Statue Ended June 1, 2010 at $233.05 USD.  eBay seller longshorespike explains:

Limited up to 3800 pieces worldwide, very detailed, heavy, made out of hard PVC, up to 13 inches in height and only available in the Nintendo Star catalogue (cost was 14,000 star points…about 60 games), this statue is one of the most rare and expensive Zelda-statues you can get. It’s sprayed gold and it’s made for the promotion of The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess.

Game Hunting: Moonwalker, Turbo Touch 360, Taiko Drum Master

I hit the usual flea market this weekend and found a number of rare and interesting retro games and accessories.  My top find was a loose copy of Michael Jackson’s Moonwalker (sadly in rough shape).  Surprisingly, this is actually a decent game to actually play.  Since Michael’s death the game has become quite hard to find and has been hovering at about $40-60+.  Putting this one in the eBay store.

My other favorite find was a Turbo Touch 360 controller for the Sega Genesis.  It still blows my mind that there was anything touch sensitive 20 years ago.  I can’t say it’s the best controller out there, but it’s not that bad either.  As you can see from my finds, I love toying around with weird turbo and programmable controllers.  This one is staying in the collection.

Taiko Drum Master for PS2 was a great find especially since it’s complete in box.  I’m not sure whether to hold onto this one or not, so it’s going into collection/eBay limbo.

The rest of my finds were as follows:

GENESIS Michael Jackson’s Moonwalker
GENESIS Space Harrior II
GENESIS Turbo Touch 360 Controller
GENESIS Turbo Controller
N64 Beetle Adventure Racing!
N64 Space Station Silicon Valley
N64 Star Soldier Vanishing Earth
PS2 Taiko Drum Master Complete
PS2 Everquest Online Adventures
SNES Donkey Kong Country
SNES Donkey Kong Country 2
SNES Race Drivin’
SNES Jammit — Game + Box
SNES Programmable controller
XBOX Star Wars Republic Commando
XBOX Star Wars Battlefront

Game Hunting: 2 Flea Markets = Dragon’s Lair Deluxe Pack

I had a great time at the local swap meets (flea markets) this weekend and found some great retro gaming loot.  I’d say my favorite find for the weekend was the Dragon’s Lair Deluxe Pack for PC.  This gem not only contains Dragon’s Lair I & II + Space Ace, but it’s a fantastic example of video game box art at it’s best.  I don’t collect computer games, so I’ll probably be listing this one on eBay…but not until after I try to play through it first.

I’m trying something a little new.  Since I track all my purchases, I figured I’d share out the lists below for those of you who are more into text than photos.  enjoy!

Swap Meet #1:

DREAMCAST Airforce Delta
DREAMCAST Coaster Works
MISC 6x Rolls of Packing Tape
MISC Admission to Swap Meet
MISC Business Cards for Printing
N64 Banjo-Kazooie
N64 Lego Racers
N64 Ms. Pac-Man
NES Mendel Palace
PS1 Psone System + 5 Games
PS2 Baldur’s Gate Dark Alliance
PS2 Dance Factory Sealed
SNES 2x SNES Power Adapters
SNES 4x SNES Manuals
SNES Generic SNES Controller
SNES SNES Controller
SNES Super Mario Kart Manual
TSHIRT 6x Tshirts
XBOX Fable Disc
XBOX Halo 1 Complete
XBOX Halo 1 Loose
XBOX Halo 2 Complete
XBOX Karaoke Revolution Party
XBOX Unreal II

Swap Meet #2:

GAMEBOY Track Meet
GENESIS Maximum Carnage (w manual)
GENESIS Rocket Knight Adventures
MISC Admission to Swap Meet
PC Dragon’s Lair Deluxe Pack
PS1 Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 2 (sealed)
PS1 Dance Dance Revolution Konamix
PS2 Destroy All Humans!
PS2 Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 3 (sealed)
PS3 Batman Arkham Asylum
SNES Head-On Soccer

Game Hunting: Game Boy Pop Up & a Cheap Bayonetta

I was a bit late in hitting up a local swap meet today, but I was quite happy to walk away with some solid finds.  A cheap copy of Lego Star Wars for the Wii, Flying Dragon for the N64 (now in my collection), a loose NES system, and Bayonetta (sealed for $25).  I’m especially happy about the Bayonetta since used copies still seem to be in the $40+ range or more…and it’s going to be a solid game to play.

One of the more unique but probably not really rare games I picked up is for the original Nintendo Game Boy and is called “Pop Up.”  It’s a puzzle game in which you used trampolines or bumpers to navigate a ball through puzzles.  Game play is decent actually, and the background music is fantastic!  I can’t found out much about it online, and I’m wondering what’s it’s worth.  There are a couple on eBay for cheap by European sellers, but none seem to be up for eBay USA.  Just for reference, this one says “DMG-OP-NOE” on one side of the label and “HERAUSRAGENDE SEITE” on the other, so I’m assuming this is a German release.  Interesting find for a San Diego flea market…