Game Prince RS-1 Handheld NES Console Review (Obscure Handheld)

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The RS-1 Game Prince is a handheld NES on a chip console with a 2.5 inch back lit LCD.

The Hardware

The Game Prince feels pretty sturdy. I was expecting it to be made of cheap plastic, but not so much. The console’s case is contoured so that it sits in your hand well. It runs on three AAA batteries. There is a headphone jack and volume slider. There is no cartridge slot for games as they are all built in.

The buttons and their layout get interesting. It has a PlayStation style D-PAD. There is no Select button. The A and B buttons are reversed. There is a turbo button you can use to assign a turbo function to A or B. There is a Reset button that allows you to reboot the device, essentially exiting a game and getting back to the game selection menu.

The lack of the select button isn’t a big deal. None of the included games rely on it.

The A and B buttons reversed is an odd thing. It really tripped me up at first, but then I got used to it. It’s not ideal, but it is workable.

The batteries last a long time. I’ve owned my Game Prince (or is it an RS-1?) for about three months now. After about 15 hours of play time I’ve went through one set of batteries and I’m working through the second. There is no battery meter. The use of AAA batteries isn’t a big deal for me as I use rechargeable Ni-MH batteries.

The Games

The Game Prince is advertised as having 152 games built in. Like most NES on a chip systems, this is a stretch. The majority of the games are copies of each other with different names or a single level only. For instance, Hudson’s Adventure Island exists as a full game. Each of the levels for the Adventure Island are also playable as if they are complete games.

The games that are included are a decent mix of early NES titles. Super Mario Bros, Mario Bros, Contra, Mappy, Galaga, Gradius, and the like are well represented. There are no games present that use a battery save feature like the Legend of Zelda, again something typical of a NES on a chip system. There are about 25 actual games.

There are some neat variations of the games though, fast Super Mario Bros. is fun.

The games play very well. No emulation glitches as they games are running on essentially the original hardware they were written for. The sound out of the Game Prince’s speaker is good for what it is. The buttons are responsive.

I purchased my RS-1 Game Prince from AliExpress for $19. For that price it’s definitely worth it just as a bathroom diversion.

Other Thoughts

I’ve been fascinated with NES on a chip systems since the first ones shaped like a N64 controller started appearing around 2004.  Ben Heck turned one into a portable way back when.

The A and B buttons being reversed really seems like an unforgivable sin at first, but I got over it within a few minutes of playing.

Being cheap Chinese crap, the menus on the Game Prince are littered with grammar and translation issues. Prassing start to begin or playing Dongkey Kong always makes me smile.

Game Prince's poorly translated menu

Woodi GBA and Woodi GBA Micro: Backlit GBA Clone (Obscure Handheld)

The Woodi GBA and the Woodi GBA Micro are portable game consoles that do a fair job of replicating their Nintendo big brothers.

If you want to skip the reading, here is a video showing off both systems:

 

Woodi GBA
Woodi GBA

The Woodi GBA looks almost identical to a Nintendo Gameboy Advance. The biggest differences are a reset button above the B and A buttons and a micro USB port on the bottom right edge of the case. When you turn it on you’ll see that is has a back lit LED screen, much like a GBA SP or NDS. The screen is bright and looks really good. It has a rechargeable battery.  The battery lasts about five hours.

The Woodi GBA has 26 games built in. These games vary slightly based on the color of the Woodi GBA you buy. It has a cartridge slot for accepting other games. As near as I can tell the only game available is the Woodi 28-in-1 cartridge that came with it. Keeping count that is 26 games built in and 28 on the cartridge, a total of 54. The games are all from the Nintendo GBA. The cartridges and slot are very similar to the Nintendo GBA’s, but are not identical. Nintendo carts will not fit.

When I originally bought the Woodi GBA I was hoping it utilized a GBA on a chip. After playing the games I’m sure that it is actually emulating them. While the games normally play at full speed there are times when there are slow downs. The sound quality is what really makes me think the Woodi is emulating. The sound quality is bad, really bad. The sound plays slightly slower than it should.

I purchased my Woodi GBA for $32 on AliExpress. For that price it was worth it. It’s a nice system to keep in the can.

Woodi GBA Micro
Woodi GBA Micro

Pretty much everything I said about the Woodi GBA applies to the Woodi GBA Micro. There are a couple of exceptions to that: the micro uses three AAA batteries and it has no cartridge slot. The batteries last a seven hours or so. Opening up both systems, they have the same circuit board, just the screen, case, odds and ends are different.

The micro USB port is just for show. It doesn’t charge the system. Plugging it into a PC does nothing. Looking at the circuit board, it is not connected to anything.

The Woodi GBA Micro has 25 built in games. These games are all from the Nintendo GBA and the Nintendo NES. The NES games are definetly emulated. You can push the shoulder buttons at the same time to bring up a PocketNES menu while playing.

I purchased my Woodi GBA Micro from AliExpress for $30.

I like to travel with the Micro. It’s cheap enough that I’m not worried about losing or breaking it.

How do they play?

For being cheap Chinese crap, both systems feel reasonably well built. I’ve dropped my Micro a few times and it looks as good as new. The buttons on the Woodi GBA feel good, the buttons on the Micro feel oddly springy, but work well. Both systems are near identical to their Nintendo made counterparts so they both feel good in hand.

The game selection on both systems is very good. You really can’t go wrong with classic GBA games. The games play OK. I touched on the sound problems earlier. Both systems remind me of PC emulators from 7-8 years ago… the emulation isn’t quite accurate. You notice things like colors being off or the tone of a sound being just slightly weird. I know some people who would be driven nuts by this, for me though it isn’t a big deal.  The games are fun and the system plays them well enough that I’m able to enjoy it all. Normal game saves work, after three months of ownership it hasn’t lost one of my saves. There are no save states like you would find in emulators.

Would I choose the Woodi versions over the Nintendo originals? That’s a hard question to answer… on a purely price and utility standpoint, yes I would choose the Woodi systems. $30 gets you a backlit, rechargable, GBA Advance with 54 games (builtin even,  no carts to carry). I can overlook some wonky sound for that. As someone who grew up with Nintendo and could be considered a fan, no. These systems are bad and morally wrong.

Other Comments

AliExpress isn’t for the faint of heart. It took twenty-seven days from the time I ordered until I received my systems. The first time out both systems were broken, the seller promptly sent me another set, letting me keep the broken ones. The new systems arrived twenty-three days later in good shape. The whole process was just under two months.

The Woodi Micro using AAA batteries isn’t all that bad. I use rechargeable Ni-MH batteries.  They last a long time.

I was really curious whether the systems were emulated or GBAs on a chip. All of the chips on both systems are either covered in resin or have the identifiers scratched out.

On being cheap Chinese crap… the game lists are poorly translated. I get a kick out of Castle Asia of Sorrow every time I start it up. The USB charger the Woodi GBA comes with is identical to an iPhone charger. Short of missing the Apple branding there is no difference in the look.

Castle Asia of Sorrow

Update 1/21/2016

All of the problems mentioned in the review above started to get to me. What really put me over the edge was the video/audio/controller lag in some games. The fifth world in Kirby’s  Nightmare in Dreamland is all but unplayable between the wonky sound and control lag.

I purchased these systems because I thought the hardware would be interesting to play around with, the games were inconsequential. I found that I liked the games and played them a lot though, go figure. I ended up buying a Nintendo DS Lite. It’s backwards compatible with the GBA and of course plays NDS games too. The difference in quality between it and either of the Woodi systems in night and day. There is no aspect done better by the Woodi systems than the Nintendo DS.

Would I still recommend the Woodi systems? If you’ve got $30 to blow, yes. If nothing else they’re neat conversation pieces. If you’re interested in playing games start to finish, go with an actual GBA or a DS. My vote is for a DS since they are half the cost used as a GBA and can play DS games too. The hipsters have the GBA market messed up in my opinion,  it is overpriced.