Most Innovative Portable Games

For the most part, the video game industry is fairly predictable and disinterested in taking risks. That explains the glut of sequels and copycat titles collecting dust in stores and warehouses.

That said, a handful of companies and designers occasionally do something different. Results have been mixed, but by and large, these games stand out for offering a unique experience you can’t find anyplace else.

On that note, we selected a bunch of unconventional games that provide consumers with a fresh and dare we say outside of the box experience.

We’ll kick things off with a solar powered hit.

Boktai: The Sun is in Your Hand (Game Boy Advance)


Metal Gear Solid creator Hideo Kojima produced this charming action RPG that casts players as a vampire hunter out to avenge his father’s death and prevent the undead from destroying the world. What makes the game unique is the photometric light sensor attached to the cartridge. You see, the hero uses a weapon that fires bolts of sunlight, and the only way to recharge this sucker is to physically take the game outside. The concept may seem foreign to players too lazy to get off the couch, but Boktaiis without question one of the coolest portable games we’ve seen.

Personal Trainer Walking (DS)


Nintendo made a killing with its Wii Fit games, and the publisher took the idea of exer-gaming to DS with Personal Trainer Walking. Inside the package are two pedometers (one black, one white) that track your distance walking and/or running. Then you can upload the stats to the game to monitor your progress and create goals. We know. It pales in comparison to New Super Mario Bros., but everyone could use a good jog.

Pokemon HeartGold and SoulSilver (DS)


Turns out, Personal Trainer Walking isn’t the only DS game to feature a pedometer. You’ll also find one bundled with every copy of Pokemon HeartGold and SoulSliver. This little guy, designed to resemble a Poke Ball, lets you take one Pokemon with you on the go. The further you walk, the more experience the creature gains. On top of that, you’ll earn watts, which increase the chances of catching wild Pokemon.

Our advice? Put that sucker in your pocket and hit the treadmill.

WarioWare: Twisted! (Game Boy Advance)


We’d like to introduce you to one of the primary reasons we can’t get rid of our Game Boy Advance SPs, WarioWare: Twisted! Arguably the best entry in the critically acclaimed series, the game’s cartridge comes with a built in gyro sensor that lets you complete microgames by tilting the GBA, performing such tasks as aiming a spotlight and shaving a guy’s face. Outstanding effort from Nintendo.

Guitar Hero: On Tour (DS)


Activision’s Guitar Hero franchise grew staler than month old bread, but the company had its moments, particularly with the DS series. Instead of shoehorning the franchise onto the handheld and forcing consumers to rely on the face buttons, developer Vicarious Visions created a guitar grip peripheral that connected to the system though the GBA port; the games were essentially crippled by future DS units that nixed backwards compatibility. The result? Music games that almost delivered the experience of holding a real guitar.

Talkman (PSP)


While not a game per se, Sony earned some valuable brownie points for this translation software, designed to help people learn new languages and communicate with other folks while travelling abroad via USB microphone. Lengthy load times got in the way, but for the most part (it first debuted in 2005), this software was ahead of its time. Now excuse us while we brush up on our Korean.

Invizimals (PSP)


Nintendo introduced augmented reality to 3DS owners, but Sony already experimented with this technology with Invizimals. Although it’s a shameless Pokemon knockoff, the selling point comes in the form of hunting for new critters using the PSP Camera, which gives the illusion of these animals appearing in the real world. While not a critical success, we still applaud the publisher for trying something new.

Metal Gear Acid 2 (PSP)


Long before we heard of glasses free 3D, there was Metal Gear Acid 2, the sequel to the strange yet enjoyable turn based card game. What separates this title from its predecessor (aside form being more enjoyable overall) is the addition of the Solid Eye, a pair of 3D glasses that make the cell shaded graphics pop off the screen.

Slice HD (iPad)


This game doesn’t come with add-ons, but Slice HD made the list because of its innovative design. Instead of relying on falling blocks or gems, the developers chose to build the game around razor sharp objects, where the goal is to carefully slide and retract these pointy things out of harm’s way. Screw up, and a splash of blood hits the screen. It’s definitely the most visceral puzzle game available.