In Search Of Perfection, our earlier article, detailed the logic behind finding the best handheld console that there's ever been - in terms of both power, influence, games, features and good old fashioned practicality. However, I also freely admit to mercilessly teasing you with the results.
So here we go. The ten best handheld consoles of all time... so far. With pictures.
10: Game Gear
We love the Game Gear. We do. God knows that we all enjoyed playing or lusted over SEGA's chunky clunker with its limited game selection and utterly hilarious battery life. Love it as we might, however, there's no getting over the fact that it was absolutely terrible in every single way.
Sorry, but it was.
This bespoke portable Linux emulator/ultraportable/pocket PC is an open-source beast. It will emulate practically anything you throw at it thanks to its insane hardware capabilities, touch screens and ever-evolving firmware.
Oh, and it costs as much as a PS3 and an Xbox 360 put together. And it's now out of production since every PCB has to be custom made, which is why you haven't got one. That, and and the fact a you'll need to nab a fistful of ROMs, you
perfectly normal person who just wants to play Earthbound on the train, what of it? criminal. The jury's still out on the legality... as well as the ethics.
8: Neo Geo Pocket Colour
This neat little machine had everything except games, which were in heartbreakingly short supply over on British shores. A high-resolution screen, good battery life and competitive RRP made the unassuming Neo Geo Pocket Colour a serious contender back in the day, but sadly one that was doomed to obscurity. It always comes down to software support in the end.
7: Nintendo 3DS
Hurry up, Nintendo. Hurry up and make more games so that I can put the 3DS further up the list. And update it with some new jigsaw puzzles and Streetpass games while you're at it.
Hurry up, Nintendo. Because the Vita is coming and you're about to get caught with your trousers down at this rate. And spanked. Hard. Like the naughty little underachievers you are.
6: iPod Touch
While I disqualified the iPad due to the fact that it's not technically a gaming device, I'm not sure the same can be said of its little brother. The iPod Touch lets players immerse themselves in thousands of varied games, many of which retail for thirty times less than anything the other consoles have to offer. And they're not thirty times less fun!
The touchscreen may be annoying, but developers are continually finding new and innovative ways to improve or completely circumvent it. Watch this space.
5: DSi/DSi XL
The DSi and XL threw a few new features into the basic DS Lite model, including an online marketplace, SD card, cameras and media functionality. All of which were completely useless in the smartphone age, but hey, it's nice to have them.
By far the best new innovation, however, was the matte surfaces. No more fingerprints, and a classier look to boot. We'll never know why Nintendo went back to the shiny, slimy bullshit.
Sony's inevitable foray into portable console territory met wth mixed success... but the console itself was brilliant. Groundbreaking. And a bit fragile. Despite quickly becoming a mess of fingerprints, chips and scratches, the PSP is a complete entertainment package boasting incredible graphics, multimedia clout and games that rival full-fat console releases.
Sad that Sony's software support wasn't up to scratch. Quality was fantastic, but a little more quantity would have worked wonders.
3: Game Boy
They don't make 'em like they used to. Believe it or not, the original firestarter is still a perfectly valid bit of gaming kit - and it literally defined handheld gaming forever. Regardless of future advancements, we'll always look back at the Game Boy as a beautiful machine and a bona fide pop culture icon in its own right.
What more is there to say?
2: Game Boy Advance SP
The Game Boy Advance was a revelation. But the SP version was a revolution. Cliches aside, its backlight finally allowed us to take our handheld gaming away from fixed light sources. The screen was enormous and detailed to match. And it was about the size of a well-stuffed wallet (though mine is admittedly full to burst with receipts and Giros rather than hard currency). Unless you're saddled with enormous hands, the SP is practically everything you could want from a handheld.
A huge selection of some of the best portable games ever made almost propelled the GBA SP to the very top of the charts. Countless classics were pioneered and honed by the system... but if it's games you're after, there's one legendary piece of hardware that's even better still...
1: DS Lite
Here it is: the best handheld game console ever made.
I don't make this statement lightly. The DS Lite's improved clamshell design set the benchmark for Nintendo's future lineup, perfectly blending form and function. Its battery lasts between fifteen to nineteen hours on a single charge. And, deliciously, its backwards compatibility makes the DS Lite perfectly capable of playing every exceptional game that the Game Boy Advance had to offer as well as its own sprawling catalogue of smash and sleeper hits.
No, it doesn't have downloadable games via Wi-Fi. Or media functionality. But in an age of ubiquitous smartphones, who really needs 'em? Instead, the DS Lite offers portability, versatility and loads of great games. It's the best handheld console, ever.
Though I based this article on some pseudo-scientific testing, this list is naturally entirely subjective. Want to weigh in on the debate? Need to know why the Game Boy Colour didn't make an appearance? Lay waste to the order or point out some influential retro gems? Get involved in the comments!