Aside from home consoles, Nintendo has developed several unique handheld systems which allow players to play games anywhere. The following is a list of handhelds that Nintendo has released from 1980-present.

Game & Watch[]

Main article: Game & Watch

Ball Game & Watch

From 1980 to 1991, Nintendo released a line of handheld games called "Game & Watch". Approximately 59 handheld electronic games were made, created by Gunpei Yokoi. They each featured a single game that could be played on an LCD screen, in addition to a clock and an alarm. Some of the titles available in Game & Watch format were games varying from Mickey Mouse to Balloon Fight, as well as several Nintendo staples such as Donkey Kong, The Legend of Zelda, and Mario Bros..


  • Silver Series (1980)
  • Gold Series (1981)
  • Wide Screen Series (1981)
  • Multi-Screen Series (1982)
  • New Wide Screen Series (1982)
  • Parallel Multi-Screen Series (1983)
  • Tabletop Series (1983)
  • Panorama Series (1983)
  • Super Color Series (1984)
  • Micro Vs. Series (1984)
  • Crystal Series (1986)
  • Dis-kun (1987)
  • Zelda (1989)
  • Mini Classics (1998)
  • Club Nintendo's "Ball" re release (2010)
  • Game & Watch: Super Mario Bros. (2020)
  • Game & Watch: The Legend of Zelda (2021)

Game Boy Line[]

Game Boy (Grey Model)

The original Game Boy, in gray.

The Game Boy line of handheld consoles started with the release of the original Game Boy in 1989. In the United States, the Game Boy was a huge success, mainly due to the successful marketing of Nintendo and the packing title, Tetris. Unlike Game & Watch, players can switch between cartridges and play through different games, similar to the NES. The original Game Boy introduced players to a unique gaming experience, allowing them to play games, normally experienced at the arcades or home consoles, in any location and given time. The Game Boy Advance line was released in 2001, using 32-bit graphics and added "L" and "R" buttons.

Since then, there has been seven more releases (including a Japan-only model) of the Game Boy brand by Nintendo, maintaining leadership in handheld gaming. As of late 2009, all Game Boy consoles were discontinued, though Game Boy Advance games can be played on the Nintendo DS and DS Lite.


Major franchises introduced[]

Pokémon mini[]

Main article: Pokémon mini

The original Pokémon mini, in Wooper Blue.

The Pokémon mini was released in November 2001 in North America, and a month later in Japan, and then Europe in March 2002. A total of 15 games were released in the American and European market and then more games in the Japanese market. The system was designed for Pokémon games, hence the name of the handheld. The Pokémon mini was discontinued a year later.

Nintendo DS Line[]

Nintendo DS Family[]

Main article: Nintendo DS
Nintendo DS - Original Grey Model

The original Nintendo DS, in Silver.

The Nintendo DS first released in North America on November 21, 2004 and was the first handheld to have a main menu. While a very basic console only pre-installed with PictoChat and DS Download Play, it was still a huge success. Eventually, the DS Lite came out in early 2006 and was similar to the original Nintendo DS, except it was slimmer, brighter, and more attractive looking. It maintained the same menu and apps. The Nintendo DS utilizes dual screens with a bottom touchscreen, with online connectivity, and Game Boy Advance backwards compatibility.

In 2008, Nintendo released the DSi, a major upgrade to the original DS line. It implemented a camera, MP3 player, voice recording, a dedicated shopping application (Nintendo DSi Shop), exclusive digital games (DSiWare), and returning features. It is also thinner and brighter. Less than a year later, a larger model, the Nintendo DSi XL (Nintendo DSi LL in Japan), was released and came pre-installed with Brain Age, Photo Clock, Flipnote Studio, and Nintendo DSi Browser. Both versions lacked the Game Boy Advance slot.

As of 2014, all the four models were discontinued.


  • Nintendo DS (2004-2009)
  • Nintendo DS Lite (2006-2014)
  • Nintendo DSi (2008-2014)
  • Nintendo DSi XL (2009-2014)

Nintendo 3DS Family[]

Main article: Nintendo 3DS
Nintendo 3DS (Blue Model)

The original Nintendo 3DS, in Aqua Blue.

The Nintendo 3DS was released in February 2011 and is notable for its "glasses-free" 3D features (autostereoscopy), which can be adjusted by depth. A successor to the Nintendo DS line, it additionally has a wider top screen, upgraded graphics and GPU, an adjustable stylus, a new library of games, and compatibility with the Nintendo eShop support until March 27, 2023. It also features some pre-installed games like Face Raiders, and AR Games. A larger model, the 3DS XL (3DS LL in Japan) was released in 2012. In 2013, Nintendo introduced the Nintendo 2DS, a low-cost iteration of the 3DS that omitted the stereoscopic 3D functionality while also foregoing the clamshell design with a folding cover.

In August 2014, Nintendo released the New Nintendo 3DS line, with the original and "XL" ("LL" in Japan) models. The "New 3DS" systems feature improved GPU, processing power, additional top buttons, a "C" stick, integrated Amiibo support, and "eye-tracking" 3D. In June 2017, the New Nintendo 2DS XL (New Nintendo 2DS LL in Japan) revision was released, which is a larger version of the original 2DS, and has a cover, bottom place cartridge/SD card slot, and a smaller stylus.

The original Nintendo 3DS was discontinued in Europe on February 10, 2015, the Nintendo 3DS XL was discontinued in Europe and Japan in February 2015, the New Nintendo 3DS was discontinued in Japan and Europe on July 14, 2017, the New Nintendo 3DS XL was discontinued in Europe on December 30, 2017 and in Japan on July 25, 2019, and the New Nintendo 2DS XL was discontinued in North America on February 8, 2020.


Total Releases[]

Nintendo Switch Line[]

Nintendo Switch with Red & Blue Joycons

The Nintendo Switch, in Neon Blue + Neon Red.

In 2017, Nintendo released their first hybrid console in the market, the Nintendo Switch. The system allows players to choose between playing at home and outdoors. The controllers can be attached and detached into the console and different accessories. It has three modes: Docked, Handheld, and Tabletop. The screen can be docked to play on the television, and removed for portable experiences. It has HDMI support, allowing games to be played in HD (1080p maximum). Undocked, the screen displays a maximum of 720p. The controllers (Joy-Con Controllers) was released in different colors, and have gyro, IR cameras, and HD rumble features.

In 2019, the Nintendo Switch Lite line was released, which is slimmer and lighter than the original, and lacks the docking and rumble abilities.

In 2021, the OLED model was released, featuring a larger OLED screen, white Joy-Cons, extended battery life, improved audio, and an upgraded adjustable stand.

See also[]