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Handheld Gaming


I've recently gotten back into handheld gaming lately. Grabbed a "new 2ds xl" and a bunch of used games for it but also looked into the Chinese handheld market as well. I've bought a few of them recently to play around with in hopes it'll inspire me to write some homebrew games for nieces and nephews to play or be able to teach them game programming as they're getting old enough to learn that sort of thing.

Anyways I thought I'd give a quick review of the few I've gone through. tldr; Anbernic devices are pretty nice.

So I started with the GPi Case with a Pi0 and honestly it's a great little Gameboy thing. Feels solid and so much like the old one with a nice display and if Pi's are your thing it's a solid option. After watching a bunch of videos I tried some of the Bittboy line. The Bittboy is small, feels super plasticy and only slightly better than if someone just 3d printed a case for it. But it's cheap and it works. For about the same price though the Pocketgo is actually pretty neat and if you do the emulation thing and are fine stopping at about the SNES/GB Color territory then it's a great bang for the buck, throw it in your bag and game over lunch kind of option. The physical volume is nice, it feels ok, screen is crisp and honestly a nice stocking stuffer sort of thing. I had high hopes for the bigger brother of the Pocketgo V2.1 but while the device is pretty good and the bigger screen is nice, there's a terrible high pitch electrical noise that apparently isn't fixable in software. I have some ferite beads coming to see if that can be tamed but I honestly can't play it when there isn't constant audio playing.

And then I splurged on the Anbernic ones. These are great. Step up in build quality fit, finish, feel, all of it better. I would take the RG350 all day over the Pocketgo for about the same price. Adding the custom Rouge firmware on it and SimpleMenu program for navigation makes it a fun lightweight device. You can get nubs to replace the analog sticks and that seems pretty common and makes it a bit more pocketable. This is where I would recommend jumping in at. The ohter ones I've mentioned just feel like toys (they work fine but don't compare). The one I really like though is the RG350M. This thing feels like a real device. About the same heft as the 2DSXL and just a bit smaller in size. Higher res screen which people complain about since emulators can't really take advantage of it and it sucks battery more but honestly this feel like a premium device. Of course it is the most expensive and actually costs more than the 2DS I grabbed so I can't say it's for everyone, but the layout is nice, buttons feel soft and the case feels solid.

Side note, the base OS on these things is a flavor of Linux but the UI is terrible stock. Skins make it a bit better but the SimpleMenu is probably a good idea to run once it's all setup.

I found a video on how to run some pygame games on these devices so stay tuned for those to come out. Should be playable on desktops as well.

Also, it's funny but I used to think that the dual screen on the DS line was silly but playing one now I'm kind of hooked on it. I should have bought one of these a while back, but they're pretty cheap right now at Walmart. $99 with Mario Kart 7 is quite a deal I'd say. Too bad stores are still closed otherwise I'd probably be game hunting on the weekend.

I never really got the appeal of handheld gaming until I played more on my phone or iPad.  Never tried using the type of device you're talking about but cool that you dig it.  :)

I played the original Gameboy back in the day which is probably why I have a fondness for the GPi Case. But other than that I've been a console fan (mostly playstation). But it's been nostalgic to be able to play the games I grew up playing on the go and not have to drag hardware over to the family events. Mostly that's been just tablet games but there's something satisfying about d-pads and analog stick to play games with. And since I'm generally a fan of the simpler games that don't require complex button combos and contorted hand positions these are pretty slick. Part of it too might be my new found appreciation for old arcade games since getting into the pinball scene. They seem to sort of go together and I never really got to experience it as much when I was growing up.

Ah the old gameboy.  So many hours on that thing.  I actually found mine a few years ago but it didn't turn on :(  I agree that mobile gaming isn't nearly as fun without the physical sticks/d-pads.


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