If you’re anything like me, part of the handheld hobby addiction is receiving the new device in the mail, and not diving into playing it and enjoying games, but rather optimizing the experience from the hard work of users in the community. I love seeing updates about new capabilities of certain devices that OS’s, or custom firmware, bring. This leads me to a dilemma that I think a lot of people face in this hobby. I’ve got the device I want, loaded up to it’s peak optimization with full catalogs of everything it does best………….. Now what? If you’re anything like me, you might be guilty of fiddling with a few games you’re already very familiar with, and then getting distracted when the next device and tinker opportunity comes along. I love this aspect of the hobby as much as the gaming itself, but sometimes I need to take a step back and remember why I fell in love with these devices in the first place: the games.
Some folks jump into emulation to reconnect with gaming memories they made as a kid, and younger folks want an easy solution to experience entire catalogs of gaming experiences that came before their time. If you find yourself in the former camp, like me, you might share my bad habit of jumping back into the same games that made an impact on you as a kid. If you weren’t around when these systems were in their heyday, you are likely overwhelmed by the sheer amount of choice you’re now faced with for your entertainment hours. Emulation is wonderful in the way it reconnects us with older titles, but the floodgates of choice can make navigating the retro waters a slog. In what will hopefully be a continuing series, I will attempt to dive into the games and experiences that are best suited for different devices in the Retro Handhelds landscape.
The RGB30 came out of nowhere in 2023. No one was asking for it, and then Powkiddy gave it to us anyway. It is not a perfect device, but I think if you ask most people who’ve owned one, they’ll say the same thing. There is just something about this funky little 1:1 screened device that warms the cockles of the heart. It has its particular flaws like any other device in the space, the battery being a consistent source of discussion in the community, but it just makes up for its shortcomings with a hand-feel and indescribable scrappiness you don’t always get in other devices. The screen, in my opinion, is phenomenal for the games it’s intended to play. I have heard a lot of people describe the experience as Analogue Pocket-lite, and I think that once it’s firing on all cylinders, the RGB30 can really offer a truly impressive experience for the relatively cheap $70 cost of entry (at the time of writing).
The fact is, you can play Super Mario World on this device and have a great time, but you can do that on countless other devices as well. Let’s take a look at some games you may not have played in the past, that truly shine on the RGB30. This is a mix of both personal favorites and community suggestions. It is by no means meant to be comprehensive, but I do hope to be able to continue to add more suggestions as time goes on. I hope others that have had time with the RGB30 mention some of their favorite things to play too.
This was the new hotness in the emulation handheld world for a minute there, and I think some people were quickly tired of hearing about it. If you want a lot of fun gaming for the cost of entry, however, you could do a lot worse than exploring Splore and Pico-8. For those unfamiliar, Pico-8 is an open source development platform where indie developers can post their games to be played by users free of charge. If you’re willing to do a little digging, there is guaranteed to be an experience for you here. Games benefit from the RGB30’d bright vibrant screen that lends itself extremely well to the simple pixel graphic style of the Pico-8 universe. It’s the perfect 20 min time killer for a handheld that feels very much made for just that.
Tiny Toon Adventures: Buster Busts Loose
The SNES had an odd native resolution of 10:9 that translates very well to the 1:1 screen of the RGB30. Buster Busts Loose is based on the excellent Tiny Toon Adventures cartoon series of the 1990s. This tribute to Spielberg animated afternoons may be brushed aside for its childish appearance, but inside is a surprisingly tight and fun platforming experience that regularly changes settings, characters, and activities. The fact that its source material is so strong to begin with helps things, but the game’s art and graphical style remain gorgeous 30 years later. The soundtrack is an absolute gem in the SNES library that has several earworms. I can remember playing this briefly at a family friend’s home during a visit, but never sat down with it until I was an adult, and I’m certainly glad that I gave it a chance.
The Legend of Zelda: Oracle of Seasons
“Dude, a Zelda game…..come on.” Hey, I hear ya, but I think this one deserves a spot on this list. This tale of portable protagonist mainstay Link was actually developed by Flagship, a subsidiary of Capcom. This is one of several entries in the series that was not developed by Nintendo. This game skipped me by when it was released in 2001. I never had a Game Boy as a kid, and when this was coming out I was finishing high school and starting my freshman year of college. In all likelihood it just flew past my radar. I’ve always heard it discussed fondly in handheld circles, so I thought that the RGB30 would be a great place for it to shine. I have to say, I think that short of an Analogue Pocket, this is likely one of the best ways to experience this adventure. Despite it’s graphical limitations, everything about this game pops and screams the very essence of Zelda.
You didn’t think we were getting out of here without a vertical shoot’em up did you?! Dragon Blaze is a fun entry in the genre that was released in the arcades in 2000. I had never played it before and happily stumbled upon it on this very device. You pilot and ride a dragon in a place called Dravania. Why would you not want to play this game? You know what you’re getting yourself into with this experience. The game stands the test of time well. If you’re interested in exploring a lot of arcade games available that compliment the screen on the RGB30, look no further than FBNeo and the collections for it. These are the best arcade experiences that you’re likely to find on the handheld.
One place where the Powkiddy device can really shine is it’s ability to run many popular PC game ports from the Portmaster project. Every week there are new ports available to run in the Linux environment. Some are ready to download and play out of the gate, and others will require some effort on your part to pair them retail PC game files. I was head over hells when I found an old PC shooter called Raptor that I use to play on DOS all the time as a kid. I highly recommend looking at what’s available over at Portmaster.Games. You might just find a classic you forgot about or your new favorite retro title you never knew you needed.
Do you have an RGB30? Are you thinking of getting one? What are some of your favorites? Let us know in the comments below, and chat with us in our Discord!
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