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The BittBoy V3.5 is a handheld retro gaming emulation device that looks like Nintendo's classic GameBoy. Inside, however, it packs a lot more processing power and is able to play Gameboy, NES, Genesis, and even Playstation 1 and PC games.

First off, let me just say that I love the BittBoy handheld gaming console. Secondly, this is not a sponsored review. I bought this with my own money because I wanted a handheld gaming device. This is my honest review of the BittBoy retro video game handheld console.

BittBoy Hardware

BittBoy 3.5 Retro Gaming Handheld Console

BittBoy 3.5 Retro Gaming Handheld Console

The BittBoy is Gameboy inspired handheld console from China, about 1/3 the size of the original Gameboy. Don't let the classic appearance fool you, inside it packs a lot more processing power and is able to play Gameboy, NES, Genesis, and even Playstation 1 and some older DOS/PC games. The smaller size means that it easily fits inside a pocket whilst on the move, something that the original Gameboy wasn't able to do comfortably.

On the top edge, you will find the SD card slot and power buttons whilst on the bottom edge the micro-SD charge port and headphone jack, which doubles as an A/V out as well.

The buttons are nice and crisp, although the controls can be a little cramped for those with large hands. For me, they are a little too close together, but comfy enough for several hours gaming. The d-pad is nice and smooth and is full size. The little R button usually brings up a menu which among other things lets you save the game state, exit the current game and adjust settings. The only downside is the lack of L and R triggers, which may make some Gameboy Advance, SNES and PS1 games unplayable, or at best a little tricky.

BittBoy 3.5 Retro Gaming Handheld Console

BittBoy 3.5 Retro Gaming Handheld Console

The screen is a 2.4-inch IPS type display which is nice and bright with vibrant colours and has a great viewing angle. In general, the display is nice and clear, although the small resolution means that some scaling is noticeable when it's not running the native resolution of 320x240 pixels. Generally, this isn't a problem unless there is lots of text on the screen, in which case it is pretty unreadable.

Inside the case is an ARM926EJ-S AllWinner F1C500S powered board which is rated for 300mhz and peak 700mhz.

BittBoy Battery Life

The battery is a 700mAh removable lithium battery strait from the Gameboy Advance. Despite the small capacity, it actually lasts surprisingly long. Charging is via a micro-USB port and lasts around 2-3 hours depending on the brightness of the screen and the emulator being run. Charging is via a micro-USB cable and it can be easily charged from a normal phone charger or power bank.

Games and Emulators

My BittBoy 3.5 came pre-installed with a few Linux ports of games and a bunch of emulators, but no ROMs. For those, you will need to download them yourselves and load them onto the SD card in the roms folder. The BittBoy comes with emulators for Gameboy, Gameboy Advance, Gameboy Colour, NES, SNES, MasterSystem, MegaDrive, Atari 2600, WonderSwan, NeoGeo, DOS and Mame.

The BittBoy comes with Linux ports of many popular games including Doom, Heretic, Hexen, Pang, Rise of the Triad, Quake and Quake 2.

All of these run perfectly smooth with the exception of Quake 2, which I found was suffering a little bit with the framerate. It's still playable but I find it lacks the benefit of mouse control for aiming.

The emulators also generally run pretty well. The PlayStation suffers the most, I think its probably a little outside the capability of the device, but most games I tried are playable.

My main reason for buying the BittBoy was to play my old Gameboy games on a backlit screen since my Gameboy (right) does not have any lighting, so playing in the dark was impossible.

My Original Gameboy running Zelda

My Original Gameboy running Zelda

Downloading ROM's is illegal, and it's questionably legal if you own the original game cartridges. I've only downloaded and been able to play about 8 of my favourite games for the Gameboy as these are the ones I still have the cartridges for. I'm loving the chance to play Zelda Links Awakening and Mystic Quest again!

Save games on the BittBoy is a bit hit and miss on the emulators, generally, they fail to load or don't even show up when you restart the game. To get around this you can use the "save state" function on the R menu.

Room for Improvement

In general, this is a very well rounded device and a lot of fun to play with. There are only a few minor changes which I would like to see in the next version.

  1. The power slider is a bit soft/loose/prone to turning on/off inside pockets. A firmer slider would be better.
  2. Soft power-off. The power slider kills the power instantly, a soft shutdown option would prevent damage to the SD card files.
  3. Battery life indicator, or better low battery monitor. The only battery meter is on the main menu, which isn't accessible whilst playing a game. The LED turns from green to red, but it's not easy to see when in daylight or engrossed in your game.

Overall this is a great way to consume retro games and relive my childhood gaming experiences. All in all, I think for the price and nostalgia you get from this, it is well worth the £38 asking price.

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