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Intro to Chinese Handhelds for Retro Gaming!


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In between my reviews I want to do something a little different. When it comes to retro gaming today, we have more options than ever to play our favorite old school games. The ever present Raspberry Pi.  The "mini" consoles that was all the rage a few years back.  Emulators and roms on our computers or modded consoles.  But there's one way to play retro games that may be more convenient to most people than any of the prior mentions: Handhelds!

With a handheld you aren't tethered to a television or monitor.  You can throw it in your pocket or bag and have your favorite games with you wherever you go. The Evercade is a great example of a legitimate way to do this.  But what if you want something without cartridges, something unofficial and capable of doing more?  Well I have some options for you from the world of Chinese retro handhelds!

These used to be junky, throw away things that you got out of curiosity once in a while but they never lived up to expectations. Not anymore, thanks to brands like Anbernic and Pow Kiddy!  And I've actually tried a lot of these, so I'm going to give you some recommendations now to get you started. So let's start with...

Honorable Mentions

- The Game Chicken, Ali Express

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Okay so this is really just a novelty, but c'mon!  It's a game chicken handheld!  Why?  Who knows?  Who cares!  It's extremely small and is not comfortable to play at all, but I think it's intended to be a fun and quirky statement more so than anything. So I recommend it if you want something that you could play for 5 minutes while waiting on a bus or Uber, but are looking for more of a reaction from friends than anything else.

- Games Power Thin Handheld, EBay

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If you just want to play essential 8 bit NES and Famicom games, then this affordable and very small handheld is for you!  It plays well and is credit card size, and very thin too!  The screen is nice and colorful and the volume is adjustable to 3 levels via button press. This is another one that is stylish and serves a niche well. 

- Family Pocket FC3000, Multiple sites

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There are many Handhelds that look just like this one, but make sure you get the FC3000 model. The other ones are not recommended!  When you first boot this up it looks like another NES handheld emulator. But slide the back off (mine is extremely hard to move) and remove the cartridge and you'll find a menu of NES, mega drive (genesis), Gameboy, pc-engine (TurboGrafx), and more!  Why would they hide the good stuff?  The screen and sound are decent but the games play very well!  I should mention that you can not add and delete roms on any of these that I'm mentioning today to my knowledge!

And finally, the last for today...

-Trimui Model S, Amazon

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This little thing is the same style as those Oregon Trail and Tetris credit card size handhelds, except this one does it all!  You can play NES, SNES, master system, genesis (mega drive), TurboGrafx (pc-engine), Gameboy, Gameboy advance, game gear, and playstation(!?). I don't recommend the PS1 emulation but the rest are great. It's the most costly on this list, but it does the most too.

And that's it for today. Our theme for this week was small, pocket sized handhelds that were cheap and covered mostly specific niches. Next time we will look at some of the top tier handhelds that I have tried and recommend. We will get into the weeds on those a little more than I did with these honorable mentions.  None of the handhelds from today could play my beloved 7800, but the next ones will play 7800 and a lot more. And they are usually customizable in roms!  So stay tuned!

Also I welcome any and all feedback!  I'm am going to do 7800 game reviews as my main focus but each week I'll have an off topic article. If you like, or don't like this idea, the let me know!

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