Best Handheld Video Games – Pre 90s

You may have to be in your late 30s or beyond to appreciate this list. Here are 15 of the best handheld video games pre '90s.

You may have to be in your late 30s or beyond to appreciate this list, but I think any age would enjoy these classics. They’re not exactly Black Ops or Halo, but there is something about those red-colored electronic dots that speaks to your soul.

Here are 15 of the best handheld video games pre-’90s.

15.) Nintendo – Super Mario Bros. Game & Watch

Nintendo - Super Mario Bros. Game & Watch (1988)

Aubrey Caldwell / Pinterest

Year: 1988

Nintendo’s Game and Watch units were a popular franchise in the ’80s.

Super Mario Bros. was at the height of their popularity so no wonder it received its own Game and Watch edition.

14.) Tandy – Cosmic 1000 Fire Away 

tandy - cosmic 1000 fire away (198x)

Lim Thye Chean / Pinterest

Year: 1980

Inspired by Space Invaders, this Tandy handheld device was one of the best games pre the ‘90s.

Featuring a vacuum florescent display with pre-drawn figures that lit up.

13.) Entex – Electronic Baseball 3

Entex - Electronic Baseball 3

Beth Dickerson Holland / Pinterest

Year: 1980

Sports was a common theme for electronic handheld games at the time.

Baseball 3 uses a simple red LED lights under a baseball diamond-shaped playfield as a display.

12.) Mattel Electronics – Dungeons & Dragons

Mattel Electronics - Dungeons & Dragons

Blazin Butch / Pinterest

Year: 1981

This Dungeons & Dragons handheld unit allows players to navigate a dungeon maze and slay monsters.

Although the graphics were in black and white, this was an entertaining game.

11.) Tomytronic 3-D Games

tomytronic 3-d games

scorpiobabes / Pinterest

Year: 1983

Tomy 3D games featured two separate LCD screens with a transparent colored filter. Each screen had a slightly different set of graphics for each eye.

By holding the binocular-like device up to your eyes, you could see the 3D effect.


10.) Nelsonic – Zelda Game Watch

nelsonic - zelda game watch

maza / Pinterest

Year: 1989

Nelsonic produced a line of digital wristwatches that featured built-in playable LCD games.

A cute small portable device that could be taken with you everywhere. Allowing you to fight the forces of evil at any time.


9.) Tiger Electronics – Electronic Castlevania II: Simon’s Quest 

tiger electronics - electronic castlevania ii simon's quest / Pinterest

Year: 1988

The ‘80s marked the golden age of Tiger handheld video games.

Castlevania II: Simon’s Quest was one of there most popular games that may remember fondly.

8.) Nintendo – Zelda Game & Watch

nintendo - zelda game & watch 1989

Soulportals KokeshiVillage / Pinterest

Year: 1989

Super Mario Bros. wasn’t the only franchise to get a Game and Watch edition, Zelda had its own too.

This two-screen version features an area for complex inventory on the top screen.


7.) Tandy – Hungry Monster

Tandy - Hungry Monster (1983)

Handheld Museum

Year: 1983

Hungry Monster took inspiration from the massive video game hit Pac-Man.

In Hungry Monster, the goal was to gobble up as many pellets as possible while avoiding the evil villain Bogey.


6.) Entex – Select-A-Game Machine

entex - select-a-game machine (1981)

Handheld Museum

Year: 1981

Select-A-Game-Machine is a cross between a handheld and tabletop game.

The device is easy to hold but can also be used on a tabletop.

5.) Head to Head baseball by Coleco

head to head baseball by coleco - 1982

David Fenris / Pinterest

Year: 1982

I came super close to uploading the Football version of the Head to Head series, but since I already have Football as number 2, I’m going with this.

HEAD TO HEAD means competes against siblings or friends. BRING IT!!!! I used to play for baseball cards.

4.) Pac Man (A.k.a. Puck-Man, Munch Man) by Tomy

pac man (a.k.a. puck-man, munch man) by tomy - 1981

Tinxi / Shutterstock

Year: 1981

Okay, wasn’t the most fun game to play, but gotta love the design and can’t get much more nostalgic glory than Pac Man!

Or in Japan – Puck-Man (Lame) or UK (Munch Man) even lamer.

3.) Wildfire Pinball by Parker Brothers

wildfire pinball by parker brothers - 1979

Tinxi / Shutterstock

Year: 1979

What!!! Did they put a tilt on a LED pinball game? How does that make sense?

Super fun though with significant sound effects that could really bug the crap out of your parents.

2.) Football II (Classic Football II) by Mattel

football ii (classic football ii) by mattel - 1978

Marker Man / Pinterest

Year: 1978

Okay, first there was Football I, the white one. Then comes Football II where you can actually run backward and actually pass!!!!

It got real…played for hours on road trips or late at night under my covers.

1.) Donkey Kong Tabletop Arcade by Coleco

donkey kong tabletop arcade by coleco

Vintage Funk Astoria / Pinterest

Year: 1982

You were probably a little rich kid if you had one of these because they were pricey but they sure were fun and super cool looking.

GO MARIO! You lil crazy plumber!

Did you have any of the best handheld video games?