GameGadget – the modern retro handheld


Normally we’d be deeply sceptical of a new handheld, whatever niche it’s targeting. And it’s always ambitious – shall we say – of companies to invoke comparisons to Apple. But we like a bit of retro round these parts, so the idea of a retro handheld with an “iTunes style” download service is certainly intriguing. That’s the GameGadget.

Crucially, it’s not come from nowhere: the company behind it, Blaze, have been producing officially licensed retro games machines for some time. This is, to an extent, the logical extension of that.

The idea is that the emulators built in to the GameGadget do all the work, so there’s no effort required for publishers and developers to make their games available for the service. Blaze have signed up the likes of Sega and Atari for previous products, so again there is a track record.

Retro might be the headline, but it’s also being touting it as an accessible open source development platform in the vein of Net Yaroze.

Touch screen technology has been very intentionally shunned, opting for a more retro-friendly set of inputs: d-pad, four face buttons, two shoulder buttons. Some more specs: 3.5″ 320 x 240 pixel screen (that’s the same resolution as the lower 3DS screen), 433 MHz dual core processor, 64MB RAM, 2GB of flash memory, SD/SDHC card slot. I’m no tech head, but that sounds respectable.

Oh, and it’s British. The first piece of gaming hardware to come out of the UK for 20 years, apparently.

It’s hard to imagine Blaze particularly bothering the likes of Nintendo and Sony – or iOS, Android or Windows Phone 7, for that matter – but if they can sign up enough publishers, and make it easier than the less legal options, then the GameGadget might just carve a nice retro-sized niche in the market.

It’ll be available directly from from 30th March for £99.99.


Jake has been here since the beginning, with hundreds of reviews and countless other guff to his name. These days, not so consistent.

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  • For £99.99 you could buy a Lynx, a Game Boy and GameGear along with a handful of games. Nintendo would never sign up for this, either.

  • Yeah, but then you’d have three handhelds to lug about, plus cartridges, batteries etc.

    If the games are keenly priced, buying them is super easy, and the selection is big enough, then it could be attractive. I take your point though, and I’m not sure that it will be attractive at £99.99.

  • To me (and I have a load of them!), retro consoles live and die off their controls. With a good enough setup (and games to use them on!) it couldn’t certainly give gamepark’s consoles a run for their money, and at a keener price point too.

  • A couple of years ago, at one of the companies I worked for, we were thinking about making a handheld games system based on mobile phone hardware, for the developing world (well, BRIC without the R) market.

    That could still work today, especially with Android. It’s almost what the Sony Xperia Play is, although £500 is almost ten times too expensive. But today’s low-end Android phones go for £99 with better hardware specs than the GameGadget, although lacking the D-Pad and buttons.

    If you went the Android games system route, you’d have access to a marketplace full of apps and tonnes of development tools for people to easily create games for the system (as simple as using Flash with Air for Android). Though you might end up with thousands of crappy games, everyone expecting everything for $0.99, piracy, and the performance hit of running games on top of Android.

  • The comparison to the GamePark consoles is fair. Looks like GameGadget will be around the same price as the GP2X Caanoo was (though I can only find a US price).

    I think the hardware is almost the easy part though. It’s the download service which needs to be full of good stuff, properly priced, properly promoted, and really easy to use. The GamePark service looks like a pretty good illustration of how not to do it:

  • It looks quite similar to the Dingoo A320 or Letcool Gamestation or any number of other Chinese devices – when I first heard about it I assumed it’d be a rebrand, but I was pleasantly surprised to discover they’re actually going for something original. Hopefully they get enough publishers on board to make it worthwhile.

    @Adam – A couple of cheap Android based handheld consoles have been released recently, the JXD S601 and Yinlips YDPG18. There’s also a 7″ tablet out there with a D-pad and buttons, I think it’s by JXD too.

  • Yeh, there are plenty of white label/ODM devices in China, I’m sure some have console controls tacked on to Android phones/tablets, so the hardware is the easy bit, as Jake suggested. But someone needs to build a brand around one and create a games download platform for it – so far no one has really attempted that, except for Sony with the rather niche and overpriced Xperia Play.

    I suppose the PS Vita is going a little in that direction though, it’s not super expensive and it’s moderately open for development with its download platform. Between the iOS App Store and the PS Vita/3DS we’re fairly well covered, though I wouldn’t say no to a super cheap, open gaming platform. Android might already be covering that area too though.

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