My Quest For Finding A Great Retro Handheld Console Is Finally Over!
For the last few years, I’ve been searching for my dream handheld device. Looking for a modern portable Super Nintendo was just the beginning of the journey.
I grew up with the SNES and this is what I was looking for in a handheld device: letting me play the games I have fond memory of.
Game Boy Advance
I never had a GBA but I’ve often heard it referred to as a portable SNES so I thought maybe it would be what I was looking for with games I’ve never played.
Neo Geo / Arcade
Deep down what I’ve always wanted was to play the best 16 bits games on the go and playing Neo Geo and arcade games was something I was only dreaming about.
With many PlayStation 1 games available on the PlayStation Vita capable, I was wondering if any other handheld could emulate it but it wasn’t a priority.
First-Party Consoles Options & Custom Firmwares
Naturally the first thing I looked at was the consoles from the biggest video games companies but the price of games and the tediousness needed to root the devices made me weary of this path.
Nintendo 3DS XL
Buying older games on the Virtual Console store isn’t cheap and the choice is limited. Rooting the 3DS isn’t complicated but the device isn’t very powerful so emulation on it is limited to only a few systems.
I love my PlayStation Vita! I have plenty of games for it but when talking about emulation and running ROMs, the overpriced memory for the console becomes a big obstacle.
I have no interest in acquiring a Nintendo Switch; it’s still a pretty expensive console; rooting/modding is only at its beginning; it’s just not worth it right now.
Clone Consoles: The Good, The Bad, And The Ugly
Once you dismiss Nintendo and Sony devices, the next step was to look at clone consoles and navigate a maze of specs and quirks.
Hyperkin SupaBoy S
In many ways, the SupaBoy is literally what I wanted but the fact that it only plays SNES cartridges makes it unappealing and not really portable.
Revo K101 Plus
This is an astounding GameBoy Advance clone; it’s a great console. It emulates a few other retro system but quite poorly and does not emulate SNES at all.
RetroGame RS-97 K101 Pro
This is a scam! It’s a cheap knock off of the Revo that tries to deceive people by using the same name and the same shell. It emulates more systems than the K101 all very poorly as it has vastly inferior specs.
GPD XD Plus
This is quite a nice Android device that emulates a lot of systems very proficiently; however, it has one fatal flaw: if you use a modern 10v phone charger, you’ll fry its board.
Nvidia Shield Portable
The Tegra 4-powered console released in 2013 is still an absolutely amazing device to use in 2018 as long as one can understand its true potential.
It came out at a time where gaming on phones and tablets was exploding so many people didn’t even consider it as a viable option; the sales weren’t helped by lukewarm reviews that did no understand what the devices strengths were and that judged it on a very limited scope when compared to the full range of its capabilities.
A regular microSD card can be added, it has a miniHD to be outputted on a television and it has a devoted fanbase which has created plenty of tutorials to update the device to the latest version of Android as well as getting the most out of it.
What Is Expected From This Android Device
The Nvidia Shield Portable being Android-based; there are certain things that are expected; and on this side; the console doesn’t fail to deliver!
If you have PC with an Nvidia Geforce card, you can stream any game from your Steam library onto your Portable Shield over Wifi.
And like anything running Android, it’s an absolutely amazing media-consumption device that has all the biggest streaming platforms available to it.
Google Play Store
One of its biggest assets is that it is not just running a modified version of Android; it’s running Android and the Play Store as well as the Google Services are all present.
The Killer Applications
Here are the applications that made me choose the Nvidia Portable Shield.
Retro Arch is available for many devices and OS it makes emulation a breeze and with the power of the Nvidia Tegra processor; it’s rock solid.
Where most other console devices are limited when it comes to media consumption; the possibility to install the Kodi/Popcorn Time killer is a must.
PlayStation 4 Remote Play
Thanks to the Android-community you can also remote play your PlayStation 4 games onto your Portable Shield; it works as flawlessly as on the PlayStation Vita.
The Nvidia Shield Family
Over the last few years I have become a big fan of the Nvidia Shield products. It started when I discovered the Shield TV which is sitting alongside my Xbox and PlayStation; it is best on the same chip powering the Nintendo Switch and is Android/Google TV-powered.
Both the Shield TV and the Shield K1 Tablet are consistently showing up in the best tv box and best tablet lists and this a few years after their release which is an achievement in itself.
Another thing that made me become a fan is the lengthy support for the devices by Nvidia (the last Portable update in July 2016, the last K1 Tablet in March 2018, and a couple of weeks ago for the Shield TV) and that’s not counting the unofficial updates created by the community at large.
It’s very sad that too few people heard about the Portable Shield and that when I searched for my dream handheld, I stumble onto it by accident. This is a device that deserves better and I really hope Nvidia will consider making a sequel to it.