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

Other collectors also search for:
Nintendo Game Watch Merlin Game Nintendo Tabletop Tiger Electronics Nintendo Game Boy Nintendo Rob

Vintage Handheld Game value and price guide

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

Picture Title Date Price
mattel electronics hockey prototype electronic Mattel Electronics Hockey Prototype Electronic... 04/2021 £723.06
rare mattel he man masters of universe 1982 lcd Rare Mattel He Man Masters Of Universe 1982 Lcd... 07/2021 £415.00
nintendo game watch donkey kong lcd handheld Nintendo Game Watch Donkey Kong Lcd Handheld... 04/2021 £298.00
tiger electronics game talk snake s revenge Tiger Electronics Game Talk Snake S Revenge... 06/2021 £290.68
1991 tiger marvel spiderman electronic handheld 1991 Tiger Marvel Spiderman Electronic Handheld... 06/2021 £290.68
no pictureSee all sold items on eBay for more prices07/2021£-.--

Vintage Handheld Game forum

"Ask questions or share your stories." - John, Fabtintoys
: (first name only)*
(will not be displayed/shared)*

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.