The best handheld conversions of all time

Tony Hawk's Pro Skater 2

Converted from: PSone/Dreamcast/N64 (2000)
Converted to: GBA (2000)

At the time of Tony Hawk's 2's release, the industry had the widest technological gulf between the consoles of the time. And with the top-end Dreamcast's version looking like this...


And Game Boy Color's looking like this...


What chance did GBA have?

The answer was completely unexpected. Out of nowhere, Vicarious Visions managed to port the full-fat Hawk experience onto the new GBA hardware. With isometric 3D backgrounds mirroring the 3D stages of the home console game and a tiny 3D skater moving and tricking identically to the big version, this handheld game was the real deal. Proper Tony Hawk's Pro Skater 2 on a Game Boy system.

Of course, there were some slight concessions in terms of detail...


But with the same levels, all the tricks and a level of control that belayed that four-button GBA layout, this is every bit as playable and addictive as the full version.

Above: Grinding tricks can be varied and combined for huge scores 

And when the viewpoint zooms in on a perfectly-timed Christ Air, you realise this isn't just an unexpectedly exhaustive conversion - it's showing off as much as you are.


Road Rash

Converted from:
Mega Drive/Genesis (1991)
Converted to: Game Gear (1994)

Game Gear owners were used to the likes of Super Monaco GP as the ultimate in racing game graphics on their system. This 'port' was nothing like the 16-bit version and looked a bit like a car and a track. Kinda.

Above: Super Monaco GP on Game Gear. Good fun, but not exactly faithful

No undulation in the terrain. No scenery larger than a chevron. The grass at the side doesn't even move. Still, it's what you'd expect from an 8-bit handheld. So how on earth was the Game Gear going to do Road Rash, which was even more ambitious than Monaco GP in its 16-bit state? As you may have guessed from the other Game Gear entry here, the answer is a good one. Amazingly, it went from this...


To this:


Not only does it move like the Mega Drive version (with what appears to be the same graphics engine for the road), but it's fully-featured too. Look at the elements it retains:


There's even a layer of parallax scrolling between the background and the clouds, as if to say 'limitations? What limitations?'. In fact, bar the slightly thinner sprites, the only major difference is in the sound. Game Gear's sound chip made some phenomenal noises in its time but it wasn't quite up to the Mega Drive's soundtrack. Oh, and your rider doesn't shout 'yeah' any more when you win. He must be speechless from the amazing game he's riding in.

Above: Let it never be said that we doctor screenshots

28 Sep, 2009

Fanboy Wars throughout the ages - settled at last!
We decide the winners of 27 years of system rage, so you don't have to


The ports that had no right to work
Home console conversions can be ace too

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  • Imgema - January 13, 2011 8:27 p.m.

    i really enjoyed Doom on GBA. It was kinda slow at times (faster than SNES but slower than 32X), but it was the first time i ever saw a proper FPS engine on a handheld. You could also make the game smoother and less dark by setting the lighting to "static". You couldn't see lights flicker this way, but the game looked overall better on the tiny screen, especially on the original, purple GBA. I also played road rush on a game-gear emulator. I can say i'm really impressed by it. I can only imagine how awesome this could look back then on the GG screen.
  • Xplosive59 - October 6, 2009 5:35 p.m.

    the final fantasy remakes should be on here for the GBA
  • Tomsta666 - September 30, 2009 2:15 p.m.

    I never played the GBA version of Street Fighter Alpha 3, but I do have Super Street Fighter 2 Turbo Revival for GBA. That's pretty tight!!
  • TheWebSwinger - September 30, 2009 5:07 a.m.

    Huzzah! The PSP finally gets some love. Also, one up for the shout out to Road Rash on the Game Gear. Between that and Dynamite Headdy, those were literally the only good Game Gear games I had. And I had quite a few.
  • Spybreak8 - September 29, 2009 11:06 p.m.

    You gotta love that Game Gear, weighed a ton with that bulky battery pack haha.
  • DirkSteele1 - September 29, 2009 9:22 p.m.

    Gunstar Heroes...The single greatest game ever to grace the Megadrive. Did things the console was never meant to be able to do. To see at such a high quality on the Game Gear leaves me speechless.
  • coolbeans - September 29, 2009 2:45 a.m.

    tony hawk pro skater... good times...
  • Weasel - September 29, 2009 1:48 a.m.

    Aw come on, no SNK vs. Capcom for the Neo-Geo pocket color? That was awesome! Though that and Metal Slug were pretty much the only games worth playing on it...
  • doomdoomdoom - September 28, 2009 11:55 p.m.

    @Cyberninja4 Is a shit of a retard "I like pressing buttons" that is the smartest thing he has said He should rename his profile to "Special" or "Fucktard"
  • SgtPoppenfresh - September 28, 2009 11:50 p.m.

    GTA Chinatown Wars should be in there... but then again thats modern. Although they did make a GTA on gba sooo that back-ups my point.
  • Dalibor - September 28, 2009 11:50 p.m.

    "Sometimes it pays to check - it was Gamedalf all along." I don't know why but that made me crack up, the culprit has been found lol.
  • phoenix_wings - September 28, 2009 11:41 p.m.

    lol @ destroyerofall. For sure, man. I personally thought that Legend of Zelda A Link to the Past was pretty awesome. Same with Super Mario 64 DS edition. Awesome list though.
  • GamesRadarBrettElston - September 28, 2009 11:23 p.m.

    Great list! I would also like to add Metroid Prime Hunters, which manages to convert he robust ideas of Prime into a DS FPS... in early 2006. It's a true technical marvel.
  • Cyberninja - September 28, 2009 11:22 p.m.

    can someone tell me why there is a cyberninja4 that doesnt like games does it exist only to mock me and make me look bad?
  • destroyerofall - September 28, 2009 8:48 p.m.

    @ xboxrulez Are u retarded or what? Every single comment u post is a bastardization of the english language.
  • iKOemos - September 28, 2009 8:33 p.m.

    Why am I only finding out about GBA Doom now!? It looks superb.
  • cubeenigma - September 28, 2009 8:28 p.m.

    does mario 64 DS count? lttp for gba ? :[
  • WonsAuto - September 28, 2009 7:44 p.m.

    Great article. I loved THPS2 on GBA, it was great when I couldn't get my fix on my PSX. I still have it lying around somewhere...
  • Cyberninja4 - September 28, 2009 7:23 p.m.

    the only game here i like is tekken its easy to mash the buttons and win
  • AA95mp - September 28, 2009 6:47 p.m.

    people are going to disagree with me but..... i think the lord of the rings the two towers is much better than the ps2 version as in it's more of an rpg.