Retro Handhelds are great. One of the biggest selling points is how portable they are. I am always intrigued by that as a person who never takes them anywhere. I just play on the couch while watching tv. Sure, I have taken my Steam Deck to a hotel once or twice and played my Game Boy in the car as a kid, but I truly never use these as a portable device. I always had this preconceived notion that people would either A) stare and judge me or B) strike up a conversation about where I got it from. I hate conversations with strangers, so both seemed equally bad. I decided I wanted to spend a day or two taking a retro handheld with me as I did my normal day-to-day life. I am 31, married, and a soon-to-be dad. I don’t really care all that much about my public image these days and was ready for the challenge.

I hit my first dilemma. I don’t have any handhelds that are really portable. I have my Game Boy Color and Game Boy Advance, but that isn’t really the true retro handheld experience I was going for. I also have my Analogue Pocket, but that is a bit too expensive and bulky for my experiment. I remembered that I got my wife a Miyoo Mini to play her puzzle games on a while ago. I am usually an RPG guy myself, but puzzle games could be great for pickup and play whenever I have a minute. Besides, I don’t want my wife to be confused as to why there are goofy slime characters from Dragon Quest on her device instead of the usual Picross. With Onion OS installed on it as well, it is so easy just to turn it on and off and continue where I am.

The Gym

I am kind of one of those annoying people who have hit the gym hard at the start of the new year. Not really because it was a resolution, but more so that Planet Fitness just opened up down the road and it is super cheap. Riding indoor bikes is an easy way to burn some calories after repeatedly lifting heavy things, but it can be so boring. I need something to take my mind off of why my butt is going so numb, so I did it. I pulled out the Miyoo Mini and played some Dr. Mario. I played for a few minutes and eventually put it down in favor to scrolling through Discord. Overall, my experience at the gym with the mini was a 2/10.

Biking with Dr. Mario


As a teacher, my work does not lend itself well to having time to play games. I am usually busy with lesson plans, grading, contacting parents, helping students, and so much more. I decided to stay true to the experiment and still give it a go (not during work time). It was 2:12, the bell rang, and all the students had left. We have started a new grading quarter so nothing to grade. I pulled out the Miyoo Mini and played a little Picross. This was kind of a nice way to decompress a bit after the day. I do notice that my hands are a bit way too big for this device and it is not that comfortable for me. I give this experience an 8/10.

I decided to switch to using my new RG35XX Plus for the rest of this experiment. I really liked the idea of having a pick-up-and-play device, but that Miyoo Mini was way too small for my hands. Much better ergonomics for me and trying out MinUI, it was just a better experience. Would I still not bring this to the gym? Absolutely. I am not the most coordinated person and don’t want to biff it on the treadmill trying to reenact that OK Go video while playing Mario.

Picking Up Groceries

Grocery Pickup is one of those new conveniences in my life where I am just sitting there fiddling my thumbs to wait for them to bring me my groceries. However, it is way better than the alternative of going into the store. I decided now would be a good time to play something. I panicked and didn’t know what to pick and found myself drawn to the nostalgic choice of Bugs Bunny Crazy Castle. That game rocks. I didn’t even notice the arrival of the groceries and was startled by the annoyed teenager who was obligated to ask if I wanted to use any coupons.

3/10. Slightly embarrassing and really not that much time to enjoy. No image because I got out of there quick.

Preparing Dinner

While coming up with a list of ideas when I have downtime in my day, I realized I live a sort of boring life. The next big thing that I have some downtime I realized was when making dinner sometimes. I was preparing some crispy potatoes that needed to be boiled and then made in the oven. I decided this would be the best time of any because waiting for water to boil can seem like an eternity sometimes. I turned on Mario vs Donkey Kong on the GBA. I got 4 levels in and then I started to hear that sweet sizzling and slow bubble sound. Tossing in the potatoes and a little baking soda (secret to get them a little extra crispy) I just had to start infusing my olive oil with rosemary and garlic. I was able to just pick up the RG35XX Plus and play another 2 levels. Potatoes were tossed in the oven, and I was off to relax and play even more. This was a pretty positive experience, though I could see it fully depending on what you are making. Grilling something low and slow? That’s a go. Giving something a quick fry? Let that handheld lie.

7/10. Depending on what you are making for dinner, this could be promising.

Cooking with Mario
Cooking with Mario

Laying Down in Bed

The final stop on my journey. Usually, while I am laying down in bed, I will read a chapter or two of a book. This time I brought my handheld with me to bed. I played some Magical Vacation on the GBA. This game seems so cool, and I now had the portable device to use it wherever I went. Some people frown upon the idea of gaming in bed, but I am writing a gaming article for a retro gaming website, and I say blasphemy!

My wife is in the late stages of pregnancy, so she was out as soon as her head hit the pillow. It was nice to kind of just relax in the quiet of a long day with a fun game. Reading in RPG games is kind of like reading anyway, right? I found out of everything I did today, this was the most enjoyable of all of them. I didn’t even have to take my device out of the house, so is that even about portability anymore? I say it counts!

9/10. Good and relaxing. Maybe sounds and button pressing could annoy your partner.

Gaming in Bed
Gnocchi yelling for attention instead of the RG35XX+


Portable gaming has always been a big selling part of game consoles since its inception. Just look at the sales numbers for the Nintendo DS! For myself, I don’t see myself bringing a device with me daily. Maybe if I had a commute to work or a longer lunch I could be tempted? I am thinking I am just going to enjoy the small moments in life I come around within a day. Everyone is different though, so you can make the choice for yourself!

The RG35XX Plus was the real MVP for this experiment. I have never used the original RG35XX or a Miyoo Mini Plus, but this was a delight to use! If you would like to get your own RG35XX Plus with fast shipping get it here on Amazon . Or you can order it from the Anbernic official store. Don’t trust my word and want to hear from Raven instead? He reviewed the RG35xx+ here.

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