Quick Review: Portable Gaming Emulator Part 2

Continued from Quick Review: Portable Gaming Emulator Part 1

Software, Language and Games

By default, the portable gaming emulator came in Chinese, but it doesn't take a degree in software engineering or foreign languages to change the user interface to English from the Settings screen. There are some games showcased in the main UI to whet your appetite, including MegaMan: Power Fighter, Street Fighter, and the Punisher arcade game. You can modify this by copying the ROMs to the first folder in the Games directory in the Internal Memory.

One of the first things I did after unboxing was repeatedly battle the opponents in Mega Man to see if I still knew how to use a controller. My old, battered, arthritic hands, struggled badly, but it was incredibly fun finishing off Dr Wily and beating the snot out of Kingpin (though I absolutely hate Punisher, the overrated NRA gun owner with an IQ of -78).

The plastic control pad doesn't have the manufacturing quality as expected from manufacturers such as Sony, Microsoft, or Logitech. However, it was surprisingly responsive even for an aged, inept, non-gamer like me. I was still able to jump around, confuse, and take out Flash Man and Quick Man in Mega Man 2 (1988). Moreover, I actually completed Dracula's castle despite Simon Belmont's atrocious leaping skills in the original Castlevania (1986). I also attempted to play an older release of Street Fighter Turbo (not sure which one), and I'm embarrassed to admit the fireball shooting version of Chun-Li beat the living shit out of me repeatedly. Despite my clumsy hands and lack of ability, the plastic directional pad held up quite well during my runs completing the Batman: The Video Game (1989), the original Ninja Gaiden, Ninja Gaiden II, and Ninja Gaiden III: The Ancient Ship of Doom.

The final screen when you complete Sunsoft's Batman (1989).
The games are arranged by gaming platform in folders in the Internal memory and internal micro SD card. As expected, most of the game names are in Chinese, though the .nes files had more than 600 games with the American English title, which should keep most players busy. Some of the ROMs were taken from the original releases from Nintendo America (which as older players know are rubbish compared to the Japanese version). One of the pleasant surprises I found out while going through the 1000+ games is that there were selections that were only originally released in Japan and Asia in the 90s and 80s - collectors and hardcore Japan fans will no doubt appreciate the inclusion of such rare and occasionally scandalous anime and manga derived games.

Note: Apart from the typical assortment of Dragonball and Yu Yu Hakusho releases, there were some Japanese games for NES and GameBoy Advance included in the micro SD that were clearly derived from 70s-80s Japanese animation and manga. Although I can read Japanese, my ignorance of gaming and popular culture didn't help my appreciation for their inclusion. I consulted a developer where I work who was a gamer who assured me the games were Japanese exclusives, with some of them released to the Chinese market and Southeast Asia through the Famicom consoles.

Sadly, some of the RPGs and games like Romance of the Three Kingdoms, the Ultima series, Strider, Rolling Thunder, DragonBall, use Chinese or Japanese text. In most cases, however, the language of the game doesn't matter unless you like playing 8-bit versions of Mahjong or Go. You certainly don't need English text to finish off F1-Racer, Bonk, Adventure Island, Kage no Densetsu, Lifeforce, Blue Shadow, Gradius, Galaga, Punch-Out, the Contra series, and Batman for NES. Mario fans will be happy with the inclusion of both Japanese and English versions of all Super Mario releases however. Games such as Harmony Gold's Macross Saga, Yu Yu Hakusho (GameBoy Advance), and the Ninja Gaiden series all had English text.

Note: I never owned a GameBoy Advance, having stopped playing any gaming platform back in 1995, so I was pleasantly surprised to find out a majority of the .gba games not only had its own Save option, but had language options too.

Curiously enough, the micro SD and internal memory include games that were rebuilt from the original code included both the original cheats and new tricks. As with free ROMS from online "retro" sites, there are forked versions that include all sorts of revisions.  For example, there are two entries for Super Contra, and one of them automatically launches a screen which lists various options such as unlimited life or a specific weapon. Of course, if you already know how to perform certain techniques or "codes" then you don't really need to select the "hacked" version. - the legendary up-up-down-down-etc. trick worked to get the 30 lives. I also used the "Select" technique to take out the extremely difficult one-eyed Wily boss in the original Rockman (ロックマン/Rokkuman) .

Games like Ninja Gaiden II don't have any cheats but you can at least use the Save option on the GamePlayer.

If you don't want to wade through more than a thousand games, most of which don't have English filenames, you can copy them to your Linux, Windows, or macOS machine and keep only those you want to play. Moreover, if you have no compunctions regarding downloading ROMs from websites, then you can certainly replace or add them to the portable emulator's memory and micro SD card.

Note: If you're not new to "retro gaming" or emulators, then you're probably already aware that the legality of playing ROMs has always been a matter of debate. The ROMs found on the "GamePlayer X8" product are a mix of modified code and "original" ROMs so rest assured you're not doing anything unusual if you copy downloaded ROMs to the device.

Continued in Quick Review: Portable Gaming Emulator Part 3


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