What's your favorite pre-Gameboy Handheld?

edited January 2018 in General
Why pre-gameboy? Before that, most games were quite limited in their spec, which were generally just some LCDs/LEDs that did things in a slightly different way, and it was an entirely different game.

During the late 70s and early 80s, they reigned supreme. By the mid-80s, LEDs were overtaken by LCDs, and the hardware was nearly, well, "shovel"ware. Every store seemed to have their own brand of virtually the same toy, but some of them still stood out.

I have a tie for my favorite. One quite well known, and one significantly less so:

Parker Brothers Merlin:


From the late 70s, this is one of those that you either loved, or hated. "Magic Square", a simple 3x3 XOR pattern grid used to keep me amused for hours. I still have all of the moves memorized and can play it from muscle memory; every so often, I dig one out and still play it (I lie, too- there's one sitting on my desk even if I haven't turned it on in nearly a year). The other games were OK (Tic-Tac-Toe, and an odd BlackJack where your goal was 13, rather than 21), but that will forever be "The Game" for me.

Parker Brothers Reflex:


(No useful video available)

From 1981, also by Parker Brothers, this follows a similar genre, but rather than a mushy membrane over the LEDs, you had external paddles which corresponded to the LEDS. With two players, there were some great "Tennis" and other twitch-response games, hence "Reflex". There were several where the system got faster as it went around, including one which mimicked tetherball.

What're your favorite handhelds with a single, or few single purpose games?
Bits from 1Backtogeek


  • edited January 2018
    Oh man

    My first portable love was the Nemesis/Gradius handheld - http://www.handheldmuseum.com/Konami/Gradius.htm
    Bits from 1Backtogeek
  • does this count? this was mine:


  • @BarryHercules I vaguely remember that!

    @Backtogeek Oh shit. COLOR LIGHTED GAMES?! WHAT SOURCERY IS THIS!? Srsly that would have rocked my world, but we mostly had those with plain black LCDs for cost reasons. That still seems fairly magical to my mind. I want one!
  • Hah mine was the original Simon. Still have one my closet. Four colors bitches and tones.
    Bits from 1WSS
  • You can get those on ebay uk now for about £10 - £15, if you want one I can get you one if they wont ship intl.
  • I remember those being around as a kid, they were magical but out of my price range.
    Bits from 1Backtogeek
  • I gave you some bits!

    Mine was a hand me down.
  • Simon is awesome. I have a "Super Simon" in the box, but it was too mainstream..

    Also too damn expensive.
  • Simon teaches so many skills under the guise of fun. One of the best things I have run into that does this.
  • AuroraZ wrote: »
    Simon teaches so many skills under the guise of fun. One of the best things I have run into that does this.

    Like memory and colors?
  • Hand eye coordination. These things are important.
  • AuroraZ wrote: »
    Hand eye coordination. These things are important.

    Because hitting 4 different paddles on something which is a 12" circle is really fucking difficult for non-spazzes?
  • null

    You would surprised my friend you would be surprised.
  • Probably my penis. Just sayin'
  • thagoat wrote: »
    Probably my penis. Just sayin'

    Shame about those leaky caps.
    Bits from 1Backtogeek
  • Had this thingy made by Radioshack. Can't remember the name had the pad on the left buttons on the right.

    Was frucken awesome back then. Took proprietary cartridges.
  • Easily Mario Bros - oh, the hours wasted/spent:


    Didnt used to own one, we borrowed it of the familiy of friends; even my mom was hooked. Years later (well, ok, 4 or so, in '92) I happened to find one in a toystore, new, whilst on a camping trip with school. After that trip was over, I convinced my parents to go over there and buy it. Ah the joy. I still own it, need to power it up again :)
  • Game and Watch. Easily.

    Handed one down when I was younger, some of the best pre-Gameboy era handheld shi* I've played.
  • Haha. Game & Watch. That's probably worth a small fortune now if the batteries haven't leaked.
  • Yeah, I *think* I stored it without them. I have mario cement factory too, and if I indeed did keep the boxes too (which I think I did), they indeed seem quite pricey now.
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