Between the Raspberry Pi and mini consoles from your favorite names in video games, it’s safe to say that retro gaming is in a renaissance period. But what if you want to take your nostalgia-fueled gaming experience on the go? Luckily, there is no shortage of portable handhelds to give you your retro gaming fix. Unfortunately, not all of them are great devices. A quick search will tell you that a ton of less-than-stellar devices have flooded the market. But never fear. We take a look in this article at some of the best retro gaming handhelds on the market today.
1. Bittboy V3.5
The Bittboy V3.5 is bound to bring back memories with its Gameboy-inspired design. Upon closer inspection, you’ll notice that the Bittboy is actually considerably smaller than Nintendo’s OG handheld, measuring approximately 7x10x1.5 cm. Despite its diminutive size, the Bittboy is capable of emulating a number of classic consoles. These include handheld systems like the Gameboy, Gameboy Color and the Gameboy Advance.
In addition, the Bittboy can play most consoles from the 16-bit era, including the Sega Genesis, Super Nintendo and TurboGrafx 16. The Bittboy is also able to play a number of more obscure consoles and can even handle some Playstation 1 games. Finally, there are some pre-loaded games like Cavestory and the shareware version of Doom.
As we mentioned earlier, the Bittboy is tiny, making it easy to slip inside a pocket or bag. The IPS screen measures 2.4 inches; however, reviews state that the display is sharp and the colors vibrant. One downside to the Bittboy is that the user interface is a bit clunky. Furthermore, the Bittboy lacks a dedicated volume and brightness slider, forcing you to use awkward button combinations to adjust these settings. Despite some minor drawbacks, the Bittboy is an excellent choice, especially since at the time of this writing, you can grab one for a measly $35.
There are a number of handhelds in the RG350 line from Anbernic; however, the RG350P may be their best yet. The handheld features a gorgeous 3.5-inch IPS screen, a long lasting 2500 mAh battery and microSD card support up to 256GB. However, what really sets the RG350P apart is the fact that it boasts two analogue sticks.
The RG350P supports a ton of retro consoles. This includes virtually every major video game system from the 8- and 16-bit eras. In addition, the RG350P also supports Capcom Play System 1 and 2. You’ll be able to relive your days spent in an arcade without burning through quarters. The RG350P also supports Playstation 1 games; however, emulation performance is spotty. Some PS1 games will run fine straight out of the box, but a number of games will require some fiddling with the frameskip settings in order to run properly.
As we mentioned earlier, there are a number of handheld consoles under the RG350 banner. All of the consoles have slight variations to them, yet the hardware on the inside is all the same. This means you will get the exact same emulation performance from each version. Which one you choose is a personal preference, but our opinion is that the button placement and superior screen of the RG350P makes it the clear winner.
The Evercade is yet another system in a long line of handheld emulation consoles but with a pretty unique twist. While the Evercade emulates classic games, it doesn’t require you to obtain game ROMs in the shadier recesses of the Internet. Instead, Evercade utilizes cartridges that have a number of games on them. Each cartridge can be purchased separately.
Evercade has partnered with the publishers of these old games. Companies like Data East, Namco and Interplay license their games to Evercade who then bundles them into collections on cartridges for the Evercade handheld. Furthermore, Evercade has even partnered with some indie publishers like Mega Cat to bring new retro-inspired games to the handheld. Each cartridge has anywhere from six to 20 games on it and averages about $20 each.
In addition to avoiding the legal grey area of obtaining ROMs, the cartridges are a collector’s dream. Each cartridge comes in a hardshell case reminiscent of old Sega Genesis games. Each case features unique artwork and a full-color instruction manual. The Evercade also features HDMI out, allowing you to play your games on your HDTV.
4. Analogue Pocket
The Analogue Pocket is like the Rolls Royce of handheld gaming consoles. Like Analogue’s other high-end retro consoles, the Pocket does not play ROM files. Instead, it plays original video game cartridges. The Analogue Pocket is compatible with almost 3,000 Nintendo Gameboy, Gameboy Color and Gameboy Advance games. Additionally, there are cartridge adapters available that allow users to play games originally developed for the Sega Game Gear, Neo Geo Pocket, Atari Lynx and more.
Analogue has built a reputation by designing beautiful premium retro consoles, and the Analogue Pocket is no exception. The handheld features a 3.5-inch LCD display with 1600 x1440 resolution. Furthermore, the Pocket boasts a Gorilla Glass display, protecting it from scratches. In addition, the Analogue Dock can be used to play your games on your HDTV. It’s a neat solution for displaying your Pocket and getting your games on the big screen.
Finally, if you ever get bored with playing your old retro games, you can experiment with the built-in digital audio workstation, Nanoloop. This DAW features a synthesizer and a sequencer, allowing you to create music on the go.
If you’d rather scratch your retro gaming itch on your Raspberry Pi, check out our guide on how to set up RetroPie. If you own a Chromebook, do check out these awesome games that you can play on Chromebook.