Vintage handheld games

In 1979 the LCD-based Microvision, designed by Smith Engineering and distributed by Milton-Bradley, became the first handheld game console and the first to use interchangeable game cartridges. The Microvision game Cosmic Hunter (1981) also introduced the concept of a directional pad on handheld gaming devices, and is operated by using the thumb to manipulate the on-screen character in any of four directions.

The late 1980s and early 1990s saw the beginnings of the modern day handheld game console industry, after the demise of the Microvision.


The earliest form of dedicated console, handheld electronic games are characterized by their size and portability. Used to play interactive games, handheld electronic games are often miniaturized versions of video games. The controls, display and speakers are all part of a single unit, and rather than a general-purpose screen made up of a grid of small pixels, they usually have custom displays designed to play one game. This simplicity means they can be made as small as a digital watch, which they sometimes are. The visual output of these games can range from a few small light bulbs or LED lights to calculator-like alphanumerical screens; later these were mostly displaced by liquid crystal and Vacuum fluorescent display screens with detailed images and in the case of VFD games, color. Handhelds were at their most popular from the late 1970s into the early 1990s. They are both the precursors to and inexpensive alternatives to the handheld game console.

Early electronic games

Updated: 27 September 2020
Updated: 27 September 2020

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Vintage Handheld Game value and price guide

What's your Vintage Handheld Game worth in 2021? Here are some recently sold items.

Item Title Date Price
new qbert parker bros handheld tabletop electronic New Qbert Parker Bros Handheld Tabletop Electronic 09/2021 AU $824.84
1991 tiger marvel spiderman electronic handheld system 1991 Tiger Marvel Spiderman Electronic Handheld System 06/2021 AU $549.94
1991 tiger marvel spiderman electronic handheld system 1991 Tiger Marvel Spiderman Electronic Handheld System 07/2021 AU $549.94
mattel baseball handheld electronic arcade game new nib Mattel Baseball Handheld Electronic Arcade Game New Nib 07/2021 AU $412.44
hartung game master hand held video game Hartung Game Master Hand Held Video Game 08/2021 AU $355.00
no pictureSee all sold items on eBay for more prices10/2021AU $-.--

Vintage Handheld Game forum

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1 comment
Gambit - July 7, 2020
What is the shinobi handheld game worth? Do you know where I can buy one? One of my favorite games as a child
Can't find it either! Probably a handheld by Tiger Electronics... You could consider buying a vintage Sega Master System console to play the game :-) Sega Shinobi.