Nice screen for playing classic games

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Illustration from the article titled This Super-Powered Game Boy Is a Solid Placeholder for the Analog Pocket

Photo: Andrew Liszewski / Gizmodo

If you are still grappling with the tragic news of Analog pockets the exit is delayed from May 2021 until later this year, I found the perfect portable emulator to go with you until it arrives. the Retro Game Anbernic 351V is reminiscent of Pocket’s Game Boy-inspired design, and while its software emulation isn’t flawless, it still delivers a great retro gaming experience on a nice big screen.

Note: a sample of the Retro Game Anbernic 351V was provided to Gizmodo by the online retailer KeepRetro.

After creating a series of strong and affordable portable emulators (including the RG350P, which we highly recommend) with designs inspired by landscape consoles like the original GBA and PSP, Anbernic recently dabbled in vertical handhelds, which are reminiscent of the original Game Boy, but with some serious improvements. If Nintendo had actually released a Game Boy Classic Edition in 2019 to celebrate the console’s 30th anniversary, it probably would have looked a lot like Anbernic’s RG351V.

A portable console, but not exactly pocket-sized

Those of us who grew up with the Game Boy and have fond memories of our first truly portable video game console have probably forgotten how big it was. It was barely pocketed, and the same can be said of the RG351V, which is roughly the same size as the classic Nintendo handheld. The 351V is a bit thinner, a bit shorter, but a bit wider.

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Like the original Game Boy, the RG351V is a rugged handheld console that you’ll be hard-pressed to slip into a pocket.
Photo: Andrew Liszewski / Gizmodo

If you’re looking for a solid retro gaming experience that’s as easy to store as your smartphone, you’ll want to go for something like the Anbernic RG280V instead, or even the FunKey S, if you have particularly small fingers. The RG351V is tough, but I can’t fault it for its size, because the console also offers a very comfortable playing experience, especially for players like me with big hands.

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The shoulder buttons on the RG351V are perfectly positioned halfway up the back of the console.
Photo: Andrew Liszewski / Gizmodo

I often have trouble twisting my fingers to reach the shoulder buttons on most landscape-oriented handhelds, but like the Analog pocket, the RG351V positions two sets of shoulder buttons midway up the back of the console, atop the bulge created by its 3,900mAh battery, which I found to be the perfect spot for them.

About this analog joystick

As happy as I am with the shoulder buttons, I’m less thrilled with some of the decisions made on the front of the RG351V.

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The buttons and directional pad are all top notch, and the analog joystick is reminiscent of the hardware Nintendo uses for the Switch’s Joy-Cons.
Photo: Andrew Liszewski / Gizmodo

The four action buttons, four-way directional pad, and select and start buttons all feel great, as they always do on Anbernic’s handhelds. The analog joystick is also excellent, and looks like the same solid hardware Nintendo uses for the Switch’s Joy-Cons.

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The choice to include a single analog joystick is questionable, and its position makes it difficult to reach while keeping your fingers on the shoulder buttons on the back.
Photo: Andrew Liszewski / Gizmodo

What I don’t like, however, is the location of the analog joystick on the RG351V. It sits under the D-pad, and I find it requires uncomfortable thumb contortions to use while keeping the other fingers on the shoulder buttons. I would have much preferred to see it positioned between the D-pad and the action buttons, or at the bottom right of the D-pad. I’m also not sure exactly why Anbernic decided to include a single joystick, when a pair of them did. play many PlayStation 3D games much easier.

Elsewhere on the console, you get a real headphone jack at the bottom (where it should be located), two USB-C ports for charging and data transfers, a volume rocker to the left of the screen, buttons on the screen. power and reset right, and a pair of microSD slots with one card used to hold the operating system, while the other holds the actual game files. The speaker on the front isn’t really loud, but it’s more than enough.

This beautiful screen

The RG351V is designed to emulate games from dedicated handhelds as well as consoles connected to televisions, but almost all of the games in the latter group were designed for older standard definition televisions with an aspect ratio. 4: 3. I’m not going to pretend that the modern 16: 9 standard isn’t better, but I like that the RG351V includes a 4: 3 screen instead so that SNES and Genesis games fill it completely with no black bars on either side.

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Although at 3.5 inches, the RG351V’s screen is the same as you’ll find on other Anbernic handhelds, it’s particularly large and generous here, with a resolution of 640. X 480 which makes retro games look gorgeous.
Photo: Andrew Liszewski / Gizmodo

It is by no means gigantic, but at 3.5 inches in size, it takes up half of the front of the handheld and makes games appear bigger than on other portable emulators. 640 x 480 screen resolution also is old-school games look fantastic. Like other recent Anbernic handhelds, it also has a laminated screen so that there is no gap between the screen cover and the gameplay. This helps graphics look particularly sharp, with excellent contrast levels and viewing angles. In addition, there is no risk of dust getting stuck under the screen cover, which is a very real problem with older Anbernic consoles.

Solid emulation, but no Dreamcast or N64

Even with a quad-1.5GHz core CPU under the hood, the RG351V’s emulation performance still doesn’t quite surpass older Anbernic handhelds. Classic games from 8-bit and 16-bit consoles and handhelds—Game Boy, GBA, Sega Genesis, Super Nintendo, etc. — all play perfectly, and it is rare to find a PlayStation game that does not perform well on the system. But that’s about where you’ll want to draw the line with the RG351V. Horrible setting sound rates and sync issues make Dreamcast and PSP games mostly unplayable (unless you have the patience of a saint), and while some N64 games may limp, the RG351V, like many handhelds before him, unfortunately cannot handle he golden 007.

On the UI side, Anbernic has always been better than most portable emulators from China when it comes to usability. But once energized, you are first presented with software called EmulationStation as the interface for selecting the game to play, which then launches RetroArch to actually play the game. They both have their own settings and configurations, with EmulationStation having a hierarchy on RetroArch, and the approach can sometimes make things confusing. It also took me a while to figure out the button combination to quit games without having to reset the whole console. There’s plenty of room for improvement, but out of the box you don’t really have to jump through too many hoops before enjoying the classic games.

However, you will need to get your own software, because playing games using ROM files, not original cartridges or discs, is a legal gray area and an additional technical challenge for these types of gaming devices. Inserting the RG351V’s microSD card into a computer and copying files is not very difficult, but it is not.where almost as easy as just swapping game cartridges input and output, which is a convenience offered by other portable emulators like the Evercade it might be a better choice for people on the cutting edge of technology.

To wait or not to wait for Analog Pocket?

Although I didn’t actually hand overon the analog pocket at the moment I have reviewed several of the others retro console clones. Ttheir use of FPGA instead of software emulation, along with simplified user interfaces, mean the Pocket is going to be a real competitor against devices like the Anbernic RG351V. The Pocket will also cost $ 200, almost double the 351V. currently sells for, but does that mean it will be twice as good? It remains to be seen.

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The functionality is very similar to that of the smaller, more user-friendly RG280V, but the larger and improved screen of the RG351V is worth the $ 24 upgrade.
Photo: Andrew Liszewski / Gizmodo

If money and patience are no problem, the analog pocket is definitely worth considering, even if you have to wait until 2022 to get one. But if you now want a retro gaming handheld that can handle hundreds of 3D games from the original PlayStation era, the RG351V is one of the best that Anbernic has released to date. If its size is a problem, you can always opt for the smaller and cheaper $ 86 RG280V instead, but the RG351V beautiful wallpaper easily justifies its additional cost.

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