How cool is this?! A decent modern take on a retro games system, that includes the games you want and actually gets good reviews, is almost unheard of. Many have tried (and failed) to release 90’s games consoles using the “all-in-one” pre-installed games format. The usual complaints with these types of emulators is with the sound quality and unfortunately this is no exception. However, nostalgia is a strange thing and, despite the soundcard’s poor efforts in recreating the music, or other in-game sounds, we must remember that the soundtracks from games of the era could be incredibly irritating. Best to play with the volume low (or off…) for your own, and others’, sanity!
What it lacks in sound quality, the Megadrive Arcade Ultimate Portable makes up for with a built-in SD card slot. Another regular complaint with these types of emulators is the choice of games included. The manufacturers will never please everyone, but not having your favorite game is a deal breaker for most shoppers. The ability to play additional games – or “ROMs” as they’re called when referring to emulation – on the device is a brilliant feature and makes it extra appealing. The whole Megadrive (also known as the Genesis in other regions) catalogue should fit on a 4gb SD card and can be found on several ROM hosting sites. Make sure the ROMs are in the .bin format though. The use of these files, and the sites that host them, is a bit of a legal grey area. As such you’ll have to search for these yourself but they’re not hard to find. Legal action is highly unlikely, especially as (most of) the games are no longer being sold by the rights holder’s, but you proceed at your own risk. You’re not torrenting the latest blockbuster film or high budget triple-A game here, so don’t worry too much!
The unit can even be connected to a TV with an optional cable (not included) but it very quickly becomes apparent how few pixels there were back in the day when they’re spread across 42″ of a modern flat screen. The device’s 2.8″ screen is easily good enough though and the rechargeable battery (charger supplied) will provide plenty of power for a full gaming session. Just remember to leave it on the pause menu and plugged into the mains if you plan to have a break as, like the original console, there is no save game function. How authentic!
Despite what the critics say, a dedicated handheld gaming device still has plenty of appeal in the smartphone and tablet age – just look at Nintendo’s success with the DS series – as anyone who suffers from charger separation anxiety will know. Play on the bus to school or train to work, without risk of depleting your phone’s battery.
This handheld retro games console will make the ideal early Christmas present to yourself and would also be appreciated by anyone who has ever owned, or wish they had owned, a Sega Megadrive as a kid. Pick up your Portable Megadrive here and enjoy some original Sonic, Golden Axe or Streets of Rage for under forty quid!