10 Games That Are Better On Handheld

by Joe Juba on May 15, 2014 at 09:26 AM

The original version of a great game is always special, but it doesn’t always provide the best or most complete experience. Remakes, ports, and special editions can add features and make tweaks, creating definitive versions that surpass the initial release. While that isn’t a rare event, we don’t often see the superior edition on a portable platform. In this feature, we take a look at 10 games that were already fantastic, then made even better by a transition to handheld devices.

Ocarina of Time 3D (3DS)
Ocarina of Time on the N64 is one of the most beloved games of all time, making it dangerous to mess with too much. However, Nintendo clearly knew what it was doing with the enhanced 3DS port. It looks better than the N64 version, and it includes the Master Quest (which was previously only available separately). It also has major usability improvements, like touchscreen item-swapping and a retooled water temple.

Final Fantasy VI Advance (GBA)
Square Enix has never been shy about porting its Final Fantasy games onto as many platforms as possible, but Final Fantasy VI Advance isn’t just a cash-in. This iteration includes a new translation, additional Espers, new ultimate weapons, and two extra superbosses. Audiophiles argue against the sound quality here, but Final Fantasy VI Advance is the most complete package in terms of content.

Persona 4 Golden (Vita)
While the basic gameplay remains the same, the tweaks and refinements made in this port are almost too numerous to list. New social links, an extended epilogue, additional locations, and more story scenes make Persona 4 Golden the ideal way to explore the rural city of Inaba. This is one of the best RPGs available on the Vita – not bad for a game that originally released back in 2008.

Mega Man: Powered Up (PSP)
The original NES Mega Man has a simple premise: Players wipe out six robot masters and then take on Dr. Wily. The remake, Mega Man: Powered Up, retains that basic idea and expands on it greatly. A new art style and a cool level creator make the experience feel fresh, and two new robotic villains join the fight (Time Man and Oil Man). You can unlock all of the robot masters as playable characters, so the whole cast – from Guts Man to Protoman – is at your fingertips.

Tactics Ogre: Let Us Cling Together (PSP)
Final Fantasy Tactics may be the more popular strategy game, but Tactics Ogre has a devoted cult following. The PlayStation port was also incredibly hard to track down for many years, which makes the PSP version a boon for fans of the genre. Changes to the visual style, battlefield map, and decision-making system make it the best option for anyone who missed the game the first time around.

Next: More Mega Man, Final Fantasy, and others. 

Maverick Hunter X (PSP)
Mega Man X was the blue bomber’s first SNES adventure, and Capcom went back to those roots for this PSP remake. Featuring a complete graphical overhaul and a remixed soundtrack, Maverick Hunter X feels brand new. The best part is the ability to play through the whole game as the villain Vile, who has an entirely different playstyle and weapon system.

Final Fantasy Tactics: The War of the Lions (PSP)
Though it represents a departure for the Final Fantasy name, the original Final Fantasy Tactics on PlayStation is a masterpiece of turn-based strategy. It took a framerate hit when it made the move to PSP, but the additions outweigh the losses. New characters, classes, and cutscenes give players more options and make the story clearer and more enjoyable.

Hearthstone (iPad)
Despite some interface differences, the content is identical between the iPad and PC versions of Hearthstone. It even allows cross-platform play. With so many similarities, it might seem too tough to pick a winner. However, one simple feature puts the iPad version on top: portability. All things being equal, having an easily accessible version of Hearthstone is the best for quick matches on the go.

Metroid: Zero Mission (GBA)
The biggest (and only) story moment of Metroid was at the very end when Samus was revealed to be a woman. Using Super Metroid as a gameplay blueprint, Zero Mission expands the original tale considerably and looks into Samus’ connection to the Chozo. It takes players through familiar areas and pits them against the classic bosses, but with just enough changes to keep the joy of discovery alive.

Donkey Kong (Game Boy)
With only four levels, an iconic arcade classic like Donkey Kong doesn’t exactly beg for a port. The Game Boy version is technically a remake, since it has those original stages. However, after you beat them, you realize it is more of brand new game than a simple port; an additional 97 levels await you, all infused with Nintendo’s signature breed of classic platforming. If you love Donkey Kong, this version is a must-own.