One of the worst-kept secrets in the game industry is that handhelds are simply more popular than home consoles. Handheld gaming might not pack the sizzle of new-gen consoles like the PS3 or Wii, but like Shakespeare said, the play's the thing. After almost 20 years of handheld gaming, there are literally thousands of worthy portable games to play. How do you distill the gold from the crap? GamePro's making that question easy. We've crafted the definitive, ultimate, end-all be-all handheld system guide. Some of these games are classics, others are addicting, and still others are just plain weird. But every single one is worth your time — so to prepare for our definitive handheld game guide, you might want to grab a soda, a notepad, and a credit card: this could get expensive!
Silent Hill Origins | PSP
What Silent Hill Origins lacks in originality, it certainly makes up for in scares. Nothing comes close to this disturbing handheld thriller. As a prequel to the console games, Origins sets a macabre stage for the series with its gritty graphics, horrific scenes, and psychologically taxing gameplay. Without a doubt, the only game on our list that'll have you screaming like a little girl...but still begging for more. Now that Silent Hill made a successful jump to the PSP, we're hoping Resident Evil will eventually do the same.
Drawn to Life | Nintendo DS
This one's perfect for the kid in all of us. Drawn to life is a simple, charming game where players use the DS's touch screen to draw their own character, accessories, and items. It's a simple, pleasing game that combines side-scrolling platform-jumping action and an RPG-style village for buying items and unlocking levels. A fun, creative game that, for once, almost perfectly leverages the DS's touchscreen.
Field Commander | Playstation Portable
Blatantly pulling from the Advance Wars play book, Field Commander deploys a similar style of turn-based strategy gameplay. A more realistic presentation and online gameplay establish it as a must-have for PSP owners, even if it doesn't hold the same cache as Nintendo's series.
Beats | PSP
Yeah, we've got the Beats and it's easy to understand why -- slick, yet simple graphics combined with basic button-pressing rhythmic gameplay ala Guitar Hero. The real showstopper is playing to your own MP3 collection; just drag-and-drop your iTunes folder and Beats does the rest. The low, low price (five bucks) makes it a steal. Only available through the PSP's online store.
The second Pursuit Force game lets you to literally take justice into your own hands. As a renegade cop, you take down baddies using any means possible from high speed chases to acrobatic shootouts. A totally crazy action-packed game: just wait until you land on an enemy's hood to take him out!
Metal Gear Ac!d | PSP
Solid Snake's turn-based adventure slithers onto our list with surprisingly good card-based tactical gameplay. It's not a "true" Metal Gear per se, as complicated rules prevent easy espionage. But once you crack its secrets, you won't want to drop Ac!d. (Oh, I see what you did there... -Ed.)
Dungeon Siege: Throne of Agony | PSP
No need to agonize over where to get your handheld hack-and-slash fix because Dungeon Siege has you covered. Scantily clad elven women and beefy barbarians lead you through gorgeously-designed dungeons to bash all manner of monsters to mush. Tons of magic weapons, equipment, and spells provide move than enough incentive to trudge through the chaotic world of Aranna. The handheld iteration of the series isn't perfect, but that doesn't keep it from being a satisfying hack-and-slash RPG.
Final Fantasy I | PSP
This sharp re-make of the original NES Final Fantasy is almost as interesting as a historical document as it is a game. An old-school RPG to the core, Final Fantasy I could be faulted for its random battles, one-dimensional story, and simple character development... yet this game sparked a role-playing genre craze that thrives to this day. There are more polished RPGs available, but playing the original Final Fantasy is like listening to the first Ramones album: you can just feel the genius, even if the presentation isn't perfect. A must-play for dedicated RPG fans.
Dementium: The Ward | Nintendo DS
Checking out GameCock's Nintendo DS debut is worth it for survival horror fans looking for something beyond Silent Hill Origins. While not graphically advanced and possessing a rather ham-hocked story, it still manages to dish out some entertaining frights. You wake up in a haunted hospital that's occupied by wandering surgical abominations. The visuals are good, but the audio is simply outstanding. A flawed gem that never saw a proper retail release.