Get ready to be feel outraged and uptight as we take a look at the worst handheld consoles ever made.
We’ve entertained you with the best retro handhelds over the years, but now it’s time to scrape the bottom of the barrel.
Which are the biggest flops in the handheld world? Which consoles should have remained ideas, and which are so disappointing that their very existence keeps me up at night, seething with clenched teeth when I should be sleeping?
In a little mix up from normal proceedings, we put this question to the Retro Dodo readers on Twitter, and I want to thank @mewtwozero for introducing me to the console at Number 2.
I think I pulled my beard hair clean out when I saw that one!
So, let’s kick off and check out the worlds worst handheld consoles, shall we?
Table of Contents
With only 8 games available to play, the Bandai Digi Casse seems like a great place to start in our worst handheld consoles list of all time.
The thing about this handheld is that it walks a fine line between being retro and just simply being rubbish. Dropping in 1984, it looks a little like something you might find in the Power Ranger’s MegaZord, but it’s also a little clunky and weird when it comes to changing the screen and game.
Of the games we got to play in Europe, the best was probably Penguin… and that’s me being kind to just ease you into this article gently.
The R-Zone Super Screen might have had ‘super’ in its name, but that’s the only thing super about it.
Holding this thing with both hands was hard enough unless you had the same size fingers as the Hulk… and the same strength.
At $29.99 back in 1996, there wasn’t ever much hope for it being a classic console. To put this into perspective, the Gameboy was priced at $89.99, so we’re talking a third of the price.
And a third of the quality.
It also took 4 D-sized batteries to run on too which would set six-year-old me back a small fortune. That’s a lot for a non-animated background with simple characters running around on it.
The disappointingly boring Nokia N-Gage takes the 8th spot in our worst handheld consoles of all time.
I know we all love playing games on our phones, but I don’t think there’s been a bigger flop in the history of mobile phones.
The concept of the gaming phone isn’t a bad one, it’s just the way that the N-Gage was executed. Small buttons, a tiny screen, and graphics that you needed microscopic glasses to be able to make out.
Ok, it was a cool gimmick when it first came out, but how many of us could really be bothered slotting Tomb Raider in after having a call with Mum?
Just look at those stupid side buttons on the Gamer V MyArcade. This is a just a picture and and You can see how cheap and plasticky they are.
Despite the attempts to make this console cool by putting a cool galaxy theme behind it, everything about it is just wrong. I mean, why put the start button so high up at the top? Why is the screen so small and the D-Pad so janky?
The best place for this handheld is at the bottom of a bin… or the sea… or preferably a bin in the sea.
I guess one cool pointer is that it has 220 games with it. Most of them are bad, but it’ll kill a few minutes looking through them all.
The weird thing about the Gizmondo is that it had some cool idea concepts that could have been fantastic. It had the ability to send SMS and take pics as well as providing a platform to play games on 2 years before Apple’s first iPhone launched.
Unlike Apple’s offering, however, Tiger dropped the ball with the Gizmondo massively. I mean, it just didn’t work well at all!
Launching with one game is a surefire way to send a console into the depths of obscurity too. And then there was all that malarky about it being Mafia funded too which didn’t help either.
Funny how these things work, isn’t it?
The convoluted Barcode Battler takes the 5th place in our list of the worst handheld consoles of all time.
Because who want’s to keep swiping card while playing a game instead of actually getting on and playing the game itself?
To get different characters and powerups or items, players need to keep swiping cards. So what happens if you lose a card or it gets damaged? You end up not being able to play your games!
And can you believe that this thing was sold alongside the Game Boy and the Game Gear? How could it ever compete with Nintendo and Sega for a slice of the pie?
I think the best thing about this console is that it spawned the creation of Nintendo’s e-Reader, but that’s about it.
It’s amazing how many times Tiger have appeared in this list, and we’re not done with them yet. If you thought the Virtual Boy was a flop, then meet the console that was ever worse; the Tiger R-ZONE XPG.
To say critics hated this handheld would be an understatement. It was royally panned all over the world, and the headset made players look like a budget-cyborg.
This thing worked by using a cartridge with an LCD display that was projected off a mirror and into the gamer’s eye. It’s so ridiculous that it was never going to work!
While Tiger never said as much, it’s clear that this was their attempt to rival the Virtual Boy. They should have put their efforts into something useful, like making teapots instead.
Looking at the Cybiko just makes me feel angry. It’s a cheap, complicated piece of kit that was initially marketed towards teens.
Users could text each other using the tiny tiny buttons on the qwerty keyboard and the it came with 430 poor games.
Let’s face it; it’s a knock off mobile phone that isn’t really a phone and makes the crap you can buy off AliExpress look exciting and worth the money.
So it could host chatrooms and allow kids to chat to each other, but it’s also just a pointless hunk of plastic that is now filling a space in a coral reef that a turtle could be nesting in.
Ok, rant over. Let’s get onto the next disappointing hunk of junk.
Todays battered and dinted silver medal goes to this Character Options Doctor Who LCD Game.
Have you ever seen something so disappointing in your entire life? For starters, what’s with the buttons? Why is there an amalgamation of buttons that we know from TV remotes and consoles, and why is the screen so small?
Then there’s the fact that it’s meant to look like the Tardis and the points waste of space taken up by the art at the top.
Travelling to different planets as the doctor and solving missions would normally be exciting, just not in childlike graphics on the worlds smallest screen.
Ok, calm down Seb; you’re almost at Number 1. Keep it together.
The results are in, and the worst handheld console of all time is officially the Tiger Electronics Game.com
This thing makes me so disappointed. Everything from the name to the screen to the speaker and the console shape is just wrong.
And ‘wrong’ is being incredibly kind.
This console is another example of Tiger having all the the ideas but terrible gear to bring them to life. The ‘.com’ part of the name is down to the fact that this handheld was the first that could be connected up to the internet… though it didn’t work well at all.
It was also the first handheld console to have a touchscreen. And guess what, that was crap too.
It only sold 300,000 units, making it a terrible commercial failure. You’ve got to hand it to Tiger, they keep trying to come up with the goods, even if those goods are pretty much spoiled on release.
And there we have it! Thanks for sticking with us through this disheartening worst handheld consoles article. Hopefully now, you won’t waste your money on useless junk that will just collect junk on your shelf and make you upset whenever you see it.
Let us know the worst handheld that you’ve played over on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram!
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Seb Santabarbara has bought every Nintendo console that has ever been released in his 33 years on Planet Earth. His favourite game franchise is Zelda, and he’s patiently waiting for Banjo-Kazooie to come back to the fold. When he’s not playing games, he’s travelling the world in his self-converted camper van.