This Retro Gaming Handheld Feels Like a Sport Boy For Adults

If the Valve Steam Deck, the Nintendo Swap, and the various gadgets from Ayaneo are pushing the bounds of handheld gaming, the Anbernic RG35XX retreats to a extra snug and acquainted time. Wanting about as near the unique Sport Boy as a tool can get earlier than Nintendo’s attorneys step in, the hand held focuses on the pre-3D period of gaming, again when side-scrollers dominated the earth. For the worth, it’s an ideal machine, however it will get even higher for those who’re open to a software program improve from its devoted group of builders.

Over time, Anbernic’s handhelds have been getting extra highly effective and extra succesful, with current premium touchscreen fashions that run Android and even Home windows bringing their capabilities nearer to handhelds just like the Steam Deck. So why does the regressive Anbernic RG35XX exist? That’s straightforward: it’s a solution to final yr’s wildly in style $60 Miyoo Mini, which struck a strong steadiness between value, nostalgia, and efficiency. The Miyoo Mini was simply our favourite retro gaming handheld of final yr, however its creators struggled to maintain it in inventory. It was seemingly all the time bought out, so Anbernic determined to capitalize on its competitor’s inventory woes and create another that targeted on the identical issues; a great steadiness of value and efficiency, however with some enhancements of its personal.

Observe: A pattern of the Anbernic RG35XX was offered to by on-line retailer, KeepRetro.

The Sport Boy For the twenty first Century

It’s an actual testomony to Nintendo’s {hardware} workforce that, 34 years after its debut, the Sport Boy’s design continues to be being copied and used for contemporary handhelds.

The original Game Boy sitting next to the Anbernic RG35XX playing Super Mario Kart.

The unique Nintendo Sport Boy (left) subsequent to the Anbernic RG35XX (proper).
Picture: Andrew Liszewski |

The Anbernic RG35XX even cribs the Sport Boy’s gently rounded decrease proper nook, its speaker grill placement, and the structure of all of its buttons, together with Choose and Begin.

A close-up of the Anbernic RG35XX's controls.

The Anbernic RG35XX’s controls really feel nice, and recreate the structure used on the Sport Boy and the Tremendous Nintendo’s gamepad.
Picture: Andrew Liszewski |

At this level, Anbernic is aware of methods to ship buttons that really feel identical to what was included on the basic controllers of yesteryear, and the RG35XX feels no completely different.

A close-up of the Anbernic RG35XX's action button controls.

Somebody please make the ‘X’ button label truly appear to be an ‘X’ on Anbernic’s handhelds.
Picture: Andrew Liszewski |

Skip forward for those who’re not eager about an “outdated man yells at cloud” second, however somebody must edit the font getting used to label the controls on lots of the handhelds popping out of China nowadays. That’s not an X; it’s an H with dimples. Had been I extra regular with a Sharpie, I’d positively repair this myself. However apart from that, Anbernic has delivered some actually strong feeling and looking {hardware} with the RG35XX. It not solely doesn’t really feel like corners have been lower, but in addition consists of a number of welcome upgrades over the Miyoo Mini.

A Particular Miyoo Mini Improve

I’ve reached for the Miyoo Mini extra incessantly than any of the opposite handhelds scattered throughout my desk, however I’m not going to say its {hardware} is ideal.

The Anbernic RG35XX next to the Miyoo Mini, both playing Super Mario Kart on screen.

The Anbernic RG35XX (left) in contrast in measurement to the smaller Miyoo Mini (proper).
Picture: Andrew Liszewski |

One of many many causes retro players embraced the Miyoo Mini was due to its compact measurement, which is straightforward to slide right into a pocket. And whereas I don’t disagree that its smaller measurement was an enormous plus, it additionally made the hand held really feel cramped in my bigger fingers. The Anbernic RG35XX is noticeably bigger than the Miyoo Mini (however on no account gigantic), and consequently, I discover it to be way more snug to carry and play—particularly for longer gaming classes.

The RG35XX’s 640×480 totally laminated display screen (that means no mud goes to seek out its approach contained in the panel), whereas removed from being Anbernic’s finest handheld show, can also be significantly better than the Miyoo Mini’s. Colours look extra saturated, and the viewing angles are way more forgiving. Even only a slight flip of the Miyoo Mini makes the colours appear to empty from its display screen, whereas the RG35XX may be positioned at an excessive angle earlier than there’s any noticeable drop in shade saturation and distinction.

A close-up of the back of the Anbernic RG35XX and its set of four shoulder buttons.

The curve of the Anbernic RG35XX’s shoulder buttons makes them stick out fairly a bit on the again, but in addition makes them simpler to really feel and press together with your fingertips.
Picture: Andrew Liszewski |

I’m additionally an enormous fan of the shoulder buttons on the again of the RG35XX. They stick out quite a bit farther than the shoulder buttons on the again of the Miyoo Mini do, and have a pronounced curve to them, making it very easy for index fingers to seize on to every button’s protruding edge and press. I’d have most well-liked the RG35XX’s interior and outer shoulder buttons to be positioned at completely different heights so they’d be simpler to distinguish by really feel alone, however it’s a minor criticism.

A close-up of the top edge of the Anbernic RG35XX with a Mini-HDMI port.

Anbernic managed to squeeze HDMI connectivity into the RG35XX so video games may be performed on a bigger display screen, however you’ll want a Mini-HDMI adapter.
Picture: Andrew Liszewski |

Anbernic has even included an HDMI port on the RG35XX for these wanting to attach it to a bigger display screen. It’s, sadly, a Mini-HDMI port, that means you’ll have to get an adapter for those who don’t have already got an HDMI cable with that smaller connector on one finish. Nevertheless it’s a pleasant improve, significantly because the RG35XX can be utilized with a controller related to its USB-C port, and even with a wi-fi 2.4Ghz gamepad. Sorry, no Bluetooth or wifi on this one.

A close-up view of the Anbernic RG35XX's dual microSD card slots on the side.

As has lengthy been Anbernic’s strategy, the RG35XX has twin microSD card slots permitting the OS and recreation recordsdata to optionally exist on separate carts.
Picture: Andrew Liszewski |

Anbernic has been together with twin microSD card slots on its handhelds for years, and that features the RG35XX. It permits customers to maintain the machine’s working system on one card, and their recreation recordsdata on one other, making for straightforward swapping between gadgets. The Miyoo Mini options only a single slot, requiring all of the machine’s OS and recreation recordsdata to be placed on a single card. That’s not essentially inconvenient, however does generally make it more durable for customers who prefer to commonly set up alternate working techniques or RetroArch front-ends.

A Observe on Emulation: In contrast to the consoles from Nintendo, Sega, Sony, and Microsoft, which run software program from cartridges, discs, or by downloading it from official on-line recreation shops, many third get together retro handhelds like this depend on ROM recordsdata performed by means of software program emulation. A sure stage of technical competency is required to get ROM recordsdata onto a retro handheld, and to configure the emulators for optimum gameplay efficiency. Utilizing ROM recordsdata to play video games as an alternative of their authentic distribution media can also be a authorized grey space. Though emulation software program and frontends corresponding to RetroArch haven’t confronted any main authorized challenges to their improvement, corporations like Nintendo have used authorized means to shut down web sites offering ROM recordsdata for obtain.

Garlic(OS) Makes the Linux Expertise A lot Higher

The most effective purpose to purchase the Miyoo Mini didn’t truly exist when the hand held was launched. It arrived a couple of month after the hand held was launched.

The Anbernic RG35XX running GarlicOS on screen next to the Miyoo Mini running OnionOS on screen.

You may vastly enhance your Anbernic RG35XX (left) expertise by putting in a third-party OS various referred to as GarlicOS, impressed by the OnionOS for the Miyoo Mini (proper).
Picture: Andrew Liszewski |

Some of the widespread complaints I’ve had with the hand held emulators popping out of China has been the sketchy software program they ship with. It typically lacks simply an excessive amount of polish and usefulness, significantly for shoppers who’re used to the glossy and refined software program on their different cell gadgets. Many handheld emulators now run Android, which has helped the problem, however the Miyoo Mini’s software program woes had been truly solved by a group improvement workforce that created an alternate working system for the hand held referred to as OnionOS.

It wasn’t only a welcome facelift for the Miyoo Mini. OnionOS was additionally a streamlined and simplified front-end for RetroArch, with particular person emulators arriving pre-configured and optimized for the Miyoo Mini’s display screen and {hardware}. It made the Miyoo Mini really feel extra like a tool from an organization like Nintendo, which spends some huge cash on UI and design, and it helped make the hand held extra accessible for even novice customers. It was additionally comparatively straightforward to put in, and fully free for anybody to make use of. (The OnionOS GitHub has an easy-to-follow set up wiki, as do websites like Retro Sport Corps.)

Two photos of the Anbernic RG35XX, one featuring the user interface of its stock operating system, and the other featuring the user interface of GarlicOS.

The inventory working system the Anbernic RG35XX ships with (left) is useable, however it lacks polish and the optimizations launched with GarlicOS (proper).
Picture: Andrew Liszewski |

The Anbernic RG35XX’s inventory working system isn’t essentially dangerous, and even one of many ugliest I’ve used; it simply continues the pattern of missing polish. Fortunately, a developer who goes by the title Black-Seraph, has created an OnionOS-like various for the RG35XX referred to as GarlicOS. It’s not fairly as sturdy as OnionOS is, however it places a a lot prettier face on RetroArch, makes the assorted emulators simpler to tweak, and introduces a number of button combo shortcuts that assist make the RG35XX extra pleasant to make use of and huge collections of video games simpler to navigate.

A close-up of the Anbernic RG35XX's screen, including the battery meter in the upper corner.

GarlicOS on the Anbernic RG35XX means that you can rapidly toggle by means of overclocking and underclocking modes for improved efficiency or higher battery life, that are indicated on the battery icon within the nook of the display screen.
Picture: Andrew Liszewski |

There are just a few small hiccups with GarlicOS in its newest kind, together with a battery meter that isn’t totally correct and a few quirks with HDMI output, however one function that I believe fully justifies the improve is the flexibility to rapidly toggle overclocking and underclocking modes by merely urgent the Choose button on the house display screen (the battery meter will show + or – symbols relying on the extent of efficiency tweaks you at present have up). Tremendous Mario World 2: Yoshi’s Island is one among my all time favourite retro titles, and with the ability to simply overclock the RG35XX makes the sport play fairly properly on the hand held. Conversely, for less complicated video games, you too can underclock the machine to assist max out its 4 to 5 hours of battery life.

You may obtain GarlicOS at no cost right here, however I like to recommend following Retro Sport Corps’ thorough GarlicOS set up information for those who plan to improve the RG35XX.

A Worthy Retro Gaming Various

Earlier than you even take into account the Anbernic RG35XX, you could ask your self what sorts of retro video games you need to play. As a result of with an older quad core ARM Cortex-A9 processor, 256MB of RAM, and no analog joysticks, it’s actually solely going to have the ability to deal with video games from the unique Sony PlayStation and earlier, together with classics from the SNES, the NES, the Genesis, the Sport Boy, and the GBA. If you wish to run Dreamcast titles or N64 video games, this merely isn’t the hand held for you. You’ll get probably the most enjoyment from it by sticking with 8-bit and 16-bit titles.

Is it higher than the Miyoo Mini? Completely, and as a lot as I really like how small the Miyoo is, I discover the bigger RG35XX to be way more snug to carry. Anbernic has delivered a really strong handheld right here, and it’s even higher for those who’re prepared to improve it with some customized software program.

A close-up of the side of the Anbernic RG35XX highlighting the volume up and down rocker switch.

The Anbernic RG35XX’s rocker-style quantity controls. It’s not one of the best sounding handheld we’ve ever examined when counting on its built-in speaker, however it nonetheless comes with a headphone port for those who’re on the lookout for higher high quality sound.
Picture: Andrew Liszewski |

However whether or not it’s best to select the Anbernic RG35XX over the Miyoo Mini is a moot level, as a result of one of many causes the Miyoo was so laborious to seek out was the very restricted provide of its 2.8-inch LCD shows, which has apparently now been depleted. Final month, the firm tweeted that the final batch of Miyoo Minis could be launched in February, because it merely couldn’t discover one other provider for the smaller show panels.

Between February 5 and 10, the final batch of 200 items of the traditional miyoo mini might be launched as a result of a provider for the display screen has not but been discovered, so after that batch solely the miyoo mini + might be bought there isn’t any data from when the traditional miyoo mini will return.

So is the Anbernic RG35XX the best way to go now? Sure and no. Though the Miyoo Mini could be lifeless, there’s now a successor, the Miyoo Mini Plus, that includes a bigger display screen that’s supposedly simpler to maintain in inventory. Will or not it’s a greater choice than the Anbernic RG35XX? We’ll have a overview of the Miyoo Mini Plus quickly, and will certainly weigh in on which one it’s best to get.

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