Handheld History makes all those ridiculous LCD games available for free

649bfcb0f63cf9bc440334031164586d-classroom-game

If you’re of a particular age, you can remember growing up with handheld video game system that were each dedicated to one singular title. You usually you could move your character between three locations on screen and, if you were lucky, fire a weapon. Tamagotchi was the most universal experience, but some of us only got to experience Double Dragon on the school bus via a stupid plastic box that ate batteries. For folks like that, who for some reason missed this experience, your day has come. The internet now has a beautiful and extensive archive of all those ridiculous LCD titles.

There’s an incredible and heartbreaking breakdown of this genre of game and the efforts the emulation team has gone to in order to archive these titles for history and for your maybe-enjoyment. There’s so much here, ranging from Garfield adventures to shooters to puzzle games, and many of them existed on platforms that only existed for a single game — including one game system that’s an actual pyramid. It is 100% worth your time to read this piece about process and gaming history over at the Internet Archive Blog.

I mean… just look at this. How is this not at least the next hour of your life?

Screen Shot 2018-03-24 at 1.51.08 PM

You can check out the entire catalogue of throwback titles, and their corresponding downloads, by clicking here.

Wait, there’s a game based on the film Apollo 13 on this list. Or is based on the actual Apollo 13 disastrous space mission. Oh my god, that would dark? Let’s solve this mystery.

And there’s our answer.

Please join me on the journey into yet another video game wormhole. Feel free to post your weirdest finds below. I don’t think we’re topping Apollo 13, but you are welcome to try.

30 Comments

  1. malkav11 says:

    I had a Garfield one about dodging things being flung at you as you sang on the fence. Long before I had a proper videogame system, actually. Not sure what happened to that.

    • indigozeal says:

      That seems to be on the archive, just so you know! It’s more fun than that Coleco Pac-Man I had as a kid. Such a cacophony. Wish I still had the cabinet for display, though.

  2. brutaldeluxe09 says:

    these things were so ridiculous that even as a kid I knew they were rubbish, despite still always wanting one.

    • ikehaiku says:

      Ha, I have the same memories.
      Probably because I’m a bit too young for them to be a must-have. Being born in 1980, I would have sell my little brat of a brother for a Game Boy, but those were still around, and usually seen as dollar-bin stuff.

  3. Stargazer86 says:

    Ah yes. The infamous Tiger Electronic Handhelds. The toys your parents/grandparents bought you when they still didn’t quite know what the heck a video game was and surely these must be just as good.

  4. ellneko says:

    Oh wow, I had Double Dragon. The warm, saccharine tint of nostalgia tells me I had a lot of fun playing it and it was quite enjoyable.

    I … don’t know that I dare upend that memory.

    • Spacewalk says:

      I have the Double Dragon one too but I couldn’t “git gud” enough to beat the third stage. I beat the Sonic one with the ear bleeding music though (which should appeal to all PC gamers who lived through DOS games with PC speaker music). As someone who still likes these types of games I’m going to have to spend some time going through this to see if they’ve emulated Street Fighter, Shaq Attack and Konami’s Ninja Turtles.

  5. FurryLippedSquid says:

    Firefox F-7 was the best of these.

    Many a night spent under my quilt pounding away at that one.

  6. Baines says:

    From the blog post, it looks like these are the handhelds that are currently supported in MAME. If you are a MAME collector, you might already have them all.

    An alternative is MADrigal, who for years (long before they were emulated) had been simulating various old handhelds. I believe some of the handhelds he has simulated have yet to be emulated in MAME.

  7. Rainshine says:

    The one I can vaguely recall doesn’t appear to be in the list… There were dinosaurs, I remember. I think you were running along and had to duck under the flying ones and jump over some of the small ones and club the trex at the end of the level. Karnov vaguely resembles it, but he’s way too big.

  8. Doug Exeter says:

    Had Double Dragon and Gauntlet cause we were too poor to own a NES. They were still kinda lame despite the lack of options but they worked in a pinch. I’d never want to play them again though.

    • Doug Exeter says:

      On a side note and a slight digression, I did LOVE the hell out of the old Captain Power VHS with the light gun shaped like a spaceship. I’d play the shit out of that thing if I could get my hands on it again. Was so damn cool.

  9. gummybearsliveonthemoon says:

    Ah man, I remember these. In college, before the Game Boy was readily available, I had two of these so I could play something while stuck in airports traveling home for holidays. I had Mega Man 2 and Wolverine, if I recall correctly. I gotta check these out!

  10. DefinitelyNotHans says:

    Where is Radio Shack Space Crusher?

    • GameOverMan says:

      That’s the one I played a lot as a kid, well, the Epoch Pocket Digit-Com version. That and Galaxy Invader 1000. When I played Skramble for the C64 I thought it was a home computer version of that handheld since back then I didn’t know that all of them were adaptations of the same coin-op.

  11. Spacewalk says:

    Since this is MAME after you’ve loaded a game you can TAB out to a menu that will let you rebind your inputs which should help with the games that have a control set-up which is very “spread out” to put it nicely. If you’ve got a controller plugged in you can even use that. I thought that this might be good to know seeing as how it’s not mentioned anywhere on the site and people are probably looking at the majority of the Tiger games and wondering why anyone would think that using both shift keys, both ALT and CTRL keys and the space bar was a good plan.

  12. Premium User Badge

    Big Dunc says:

    I had Puck Monster and Invaders From Space, and my best mate had Firefox F-7 and a couple of Mario Game and Watch games. Ah, happy days…

  13. smonkone says:

    I still have that ridiculous Tomy Pac-Man game. You could only eat pellets going right to left. It was absolutely terrible to play, but it’s a cool design, at least.

  14. Skabooga says:

    My mind has an intense, burning nucleus of hatred ringing the memory of these handheld LCD games. I think that I probably played them to the point of frustration and disgust when I was a kid, under the mistaken idea that a bad video game was better than no video game at all.

  15. tomimt says:

    Back in the day, I played Donkey Kong and Mario handhelds. I recall them being better than what these games are, but I’m sure if I’d try either of them now, they’d suck bad.

    • NailBombed says:

      That’s because more than likely the DK and Mario ones were of the Nintendo Game & Watch series, the series franchise that all/most of the rest of these handhelds followed, to varying degrees of quality. Game And Watch were always quality.

      Tiger Electronics – plenty of titles, absolute balls-up adaptations. Remember playing their Altered Beast and Double Dragon II, both of which were arsegravy of the highest order.

  16. Premium User Badge

    Ninja Dodo says:

    I had one of these called “Wizards & Warriors”. They don’t seem to have it though. Also had one with Ninja Turtles.

  17. Titler says:

    HHH!

    It stood for Hip Hip Hooray if ever you wondered.

    I remember the first one of these I ever saw at Primary School… Mini-Munchman. Oh how I wanted it, everyone seemed to have it. But I never got it as a child. I have one now; The comment about beating it perfectly in the Wikipedia? I added that myself after working out the route. No spoilers!

    Interestingly, and rather weirdly, there was a trend with Grandstand of their hand helds being much better than the Tabeltop versions of the game. Whilst Munchman had a gorgeous yellow case that’s still eye opening today, the actual gameplay was far worse. As mentioned you can only eat dots in one direction of movement, the maze is tiny, and the ghosts can’t occupy the square you’re on. Mini-Munchman solved all of those issues, even if it’s still relying upon sleight of hand to hide it’s simplistic gameplay.

    Following on from this, the game I did have as a nipper, Pocket Scramble also beat the tabletop, and still stands up today as a reasonable game. Unfortunately I took my original to London on a date once, and either someone on the tube kicked my bag, or National Express stored it next to an elephant because the screen was smashed when I took it out. I re-purchased it from ebay (now with box!) and I won’t make that mistake again…

    I also picked up the full “cabinet” version of Tiger’s LCD Afterburner; I desperately wanted something which matched the thrills of the arcade, and the Sega Master System version was rubbish. Why I ever believed the LCD version would be good though…? Put it down to being a child, and falling for the plastic tat that surrounded the tiny screen.

    We had some other table tops too. Grandstand’s “Star Force”, which I remember fondly, and Tomy’s “Alien Chase” which had a unique two sided screen so you could play two players against each other.

    My brothers and I also had some LCD handhelds that I’ve never been able to identify; they were clones of each other, keep-the-ball-in-the-air juggling games, where the only differences were the sport it pretended to be. I had a “basketball” one, and my brother had “football”… I’ve asked around here and there but no one seems to remember them.

    I even went through the Argos catalogues of the time looking for them, but with no luck. I suspect it was in a different mail order catalogue my Mother had… I imagine that’s something else kids of today will never quite understand. But anyway, you might find some memories in the archived Argos, so I put the link up just in case!

    And here’s a link to a wider history of handheld systems. Looking back, it reminds me of how amazing the original Gameboy seemed at the time. A TRUE console, in the palm of your hand, and at an incredible price for the time too; You were still paying nearly half the £80 UK (iirc) the Gameboy asked for that horrendous Afterburner “cabinet”. I grew up with Sega, indeed the UK was largely Sega country as a whole… but the Gameboy was rightfully beloved, and really broke them into the UK.

    But getting off track there. One of the risks of Nostalgia! Curse you RPS for encouraging it. I know I emulated Alien Chase a year or so back on something? Was it the MAME integrated fork of the MESS emulator…? *Disappears into old files and folders again*

  18. KastaRules says:

    Good times! I still have a few of those still working Tiger games in my drawer.

  19. Xzi says:

    The Batman one is definitely just as terrible and clunky to control as I remember.

    This isn’t even getting into other badly designed LCD products, like the one headband I remember which held a single red screen over one eye. Think Virtual boy, but actually worse. Very headache inducing.

  20. Premium User Badge

    Risingson says:

    As a note, they play with one of these in Nightmare On Elm Street 6.

  21. partTimeCrazy says:

    doesn’t have Caveman or BMX Flyer… fail!

  22. Premium User Badge

    Drib says:

    I definitely had a ninja gaiden game for these way back when.

    I should go give that archive a poke.

Comment on this story

HTML: Allowed code: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>