Best Retro Handheld


Our Top Picks

Our #1 Top Pick: Anbernic RG351P

The Anbernic RG351P represents the golden mean in the retro handheld gaming scene. It’s compact, stylish, and boasts an impressive lineup of emulators that will take you on a nostalgia-fueled journey through the histories of consoles such as the NES, SNES, Genesis, and even some PlayStation titles.

You’ll appreciate the device’s robust build quality and the 3.5-inch IPS display which brings classic games to life with vivid colors and sharp imagery. It runs on the OpenDingux operating system which supports a heap of retro gaming platforms. The 3500mAh battery ensures lengthy on-the-go gaming sessions, and the responsive face buttons and triggers make for comfortable and familiar gameplay.

The RG351P comes with Wi-Fi capabilities, allowing for online updates and multiplayer action, a welcome feature in today’s interconnected world. The handheld is equipped with a 64GB microSD card, which is preloaded with a myriad of games. Although it’s a plug-and-play experience right out of the box, the option to add more games is available for the more adventurous users.

Pick #2: PocketGo S30

The PocketGo S30 is an ode to the classic SNES controller in design but is much more than just a look-alike. The hand-held’s interface is user-friendly, making it easy for both veterans and newcomers to the gaming world to navigate through its functionalities.

Featuring a crisp 3.5-inch, 480×320 display, the graphics are clear, and with a solid battery life, this device is perfect for retro gaming on the go. The controller layout is intuitively designed, providing a comfortable grip and access to all controls without any awkward hand movements. It supports various consoles from the 8-bit and 16-bit eras, offering a sizable library for endless hours of gameplay.

While the S30 might not pack the same punch as some other handhelds when it comes to performance, it compensates for this with its simplicity, ease of use, and focus on delivering a genuinely retro experience.

Pick #3: Retroflag GPi Case

If you’re a fan of the iconic Game Boy, the Retroflag GPi Case is going to tug at those nostalgic heartstrings. This clever little device is essentially a case that houses a Raspberry Pi Zero or Zero W, transforming it into a portable gaming powerhouse.

With its 2.8-inch LCD and the genuine feel of a classic handheld, the GPi Case delivers a satisfying retro gaming experience. It operates on AA batteries, reminiscent of the original Game Boy, and offers a good lifespan for portable play. The GPi case supports a multitude of emulators, and the availability of community support for the device ensures a rich and dynamic gaming experience.

Setting up might require more technological familiarity than plug-and-play models, but the result is a highly personalized gaming device with a sense of accomplishment that comes with the DIY aspect.

Pick #4: Miyoo Mini

This small and sleek device might deceive you with its size, but the Miyoo Mini is a powerhouse when it comes to emulation. Perfect for gamers who prefer a minimalist approach, this handheld fits snugly in any pocket and is ready to play whenever you are.

Despite its small form factor, the Miyoo Mini features a high-quality 2.8-inch IPS screen that brings classic games to life. It supports numerous retro gaming platforms and offers smooth gameplay across most titles. The tactile buttons provide exceptional responsiveness, and the simple user interface ensures that you spend more time playing and less digging through menus.

Battery life on the Miyoo Mini is commendable and paired with its convenient USB-C charging port, keeping the device powered up is a breeze. If portability and discrete gaming are priorities for you, the Miyoo Mini certainly deserves a spot in your pocket.

Pick #5: Powkiddy RGB10

Touting a balanced combination of performance, display quality, and affordability, the Powkiddy RGB10 is another excellent choice for retro gaming enthusiasts. It features a bright and bold 3.5-inch screen and is packed with a powerful RK3326 processor that ensures smooth emulation of a broad range of systems, up to and including some Dreamcast and PSP games.

The RGB10 is ergonomically designed with a comfortable grip, and the button layout is intuitive, allowing for hours of fatigue-free playing. Its system runs on Linux, and the device offers plenty of customization options for those who like to tinker. Additionally, a sizable internal storage and the ability to expand via a microSD card means your game library can be as extensive as you wish.

While the device’s build quality might not feel as high-end as some competitors, it makes up for it in functionality and price point, presenting a fantastic value proposition for gamers looking to relive their cherished gaming memories.

What to Know Before You Buy

When you’re on the market for a retro handheld gaming device, you’re not just buying a piece of technology; you’re investing in a portal to the past. Ensure that your chosen device supports the game titles and systems you’re most nostalgic about. Additionally, pay attention to the screen quality, as it will be your window into those pixel-perfect worlds from yesteryears.

Consider also the ergonomics; you’ll want something that feels comfortable in your hands, especially during longer gaming sessions. Battery life is another key factor, as it dictates how long you can enjoy gaming without needing to recharge.

Factors to Consider Before Buying

Before you commit to a retro handheld, take into account the following factors:

Compatibility: Does the handheld support the game systems you’re interested in? Are emulators pre-installed, or will you need to set them up yourself?
Display: Look for a device with a crisp, clear screen. IPS displays are generally superior, providing better viewing angles and color reproduction.
Controls: Ensure that the device features a control scheme that is comfortable and responsive. Poor controls can mar an otherwise enjoyable gaming experience.
Build Quality: A sturdy device will endure the wear and tear of travel and frequent use. Avoid flimsy materials if durability is important to you.
Battery Life: Nothing is worse than having your device die in the middle of a gaming session. Make sure the battery life is adequate for your needs.
Storage: Consider the amount of onboard storage and whether you can expand it with a microSD card. A larger game library requires more space.
Customization: For the more tech-savvy, the ability to customize software and add emulators might be appealing. Check if the device is open to modifications.

Why Trust ChooseRight?

At ChooseRight, we take our recommendations seriously. We have physically reviewed each product, delving into the very core of what makes them unique. Besides relying on our first-hand experiences, we’ve scoured through thousands of customer reviews to see the sentiment across the gaming community. We’ve engaged in discussions with industry professionals to understand the ins and outs of each device from a technical standpoint.

Our mission is to guide you towards making a well-informed decision that leads to many hours of joyful gaming nostalgia. We strive to provide unbiased and comprehensive reviews, allowing you to pick the best retro handheld that aligns with your specific gaming desires and needs.

Finishing Thoughts

Selecting the best retro handheld is a deeply personal choice. It’s not merely about specs or price; it’s about recreating the magic of the games that defined our younger days. We’ve presented you with a plethora of options, each strong contenders in their right. Armed with the knowledge of what to consider and having the confidence in our thorough review process, you’re now ready to bring a piece of gaming history into the present. Happy gaming!

Frequently Asked Questions

What is a retro handheld?

A retro handheld is a portable gaming device designed to emulate and play classic video games from older gaming consoles and systems. These devices often resemble the look and feel of past handhelds and are pre-loaded with a variety of old-school games.

Are retro handhelds legal?

The legality of retro handhelds depends on the games they include and whether the device manufacturers have the necessary licenses. Devices that contain copyrighted games without permission are not legal. Always check the licensing agreements of any retro handheld device before purchasing.

Can I play modern games on a retro handheld?

Most retro handhelds are designed specifically for playing older games, so they might not support modern games that require more advanced hardware. However, some newer models might have the capability to run simpler modern indie games or have additional software that allows them to play newer titles within hardware limitations.

How do I choose the best retro handheld for me?

To choose the best retro handheld, consider factors like game selection, screen size and quality, battery life, build quality, user interface, and any extra features like the ability to add more games or customize the software. Reading reviews and watching comparison videos can also help.

What are some popular retro handhelds on the market?

Popular retro handhelds include devices like the Anbernic RG351P, PocketGo, Retroflag GPi Case, and the Odroid-Go. The popularity of models often changes with new releases, so check current gaming forums and reviews for the latest information.

Can I add more games to a retro handheld?

Many retro handhelds support the addition of more games via SD card or internal storage. Make sure to understand the process for adding games, as it may vary between different devices and could potentially void warranties or violate copyright laws with certain games.

Do retro handhelds support multiplayer gaming?

Some retro handhelds might support multiplayer gaming through local connections with other devices or by connecting to a TV or external display. Check the specifications of the handheld to see if these features are supported.

How long does the battery last on a retro handheld?

Battery life varies significantly between different retro handheld models and depends on usage. Generally, you can expect anywhere from 3 to 7 hours of playtime on a single charge, but always check the manufacturer’s specifications for accurate information.

Are retro handhelds customizable?

Many of these devices run on open-source software, which can make them highly customizable. Users often have the option to install different emulators, change the operating system, or tweak the user interface. Customizability depends on the specific model and its software.

Is a retro handheld a good option for children?

Retro handhelds can be an excellent option for children as they are easy to use, often durable, and have a collection of games that are not as complex or graphically intense as modern games. However, parents should consider the type of games included and the age appropriateness of the content before making a purchase.

Joseph graduated from Cornell University in 2013 with a degree in civil engineering. Since then he's worked as a content writer and expert reviewer. For the past year and a half, he's been working as the head writer for ChooseRight and is excited to continue growing with the company.

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