Improving Powkiddy V90's Portable Experience with RetroArch

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2022-05-14 11:30:06

I've recently started following the retro handheld gaming scene. It's a seemingly growing market of people, usually nostalgia-driven enthusiasts, who want to play discontinued games on a portable device using emulation. There was a peak in interest recently after the release of the Analogue Pocket, a high-end offering in what is typically a low-end market.

Discovering this market was a coincidence. I researched into cheap handheld gaming devices for a children's gift and ended up down this rabbit hole thanks to YouTube. In the end, I went for a Powkiddy V90. It's a US$40 clamshell device able to run games up to around SNES/GBA. It runs Sega MegaDrive/Genesis games perfectly, with a pixel-perfect resolution to match which is ideal for a Sonic fan. It even has its own custom firmware, an active community, and official builds of RetroArch. The hardware experience is also spot on. The clamshell form factor makes it pocket-able and protects the screen. For its price, it's a beast.

Of course, it has its problems. Its software experience isn't friendly; specially for children. The custom firmware improves some things, but it's still not great.

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