You can’t go out and play an original 1989 Gameboy on the bus without looking like a modern day caveman. That old device is bulky, it uses four AAs and you can’t even see the screen properly unless you have the correct lighting. You could use something newer like the Gameboy Micro, but this isn’t compatible with Gameboy/Gameboy Colour games unless you use a flash cartridge with an emulator. If you are willing to go that far just to play classic games, maybe you should consider checking out the BittBoy.
The BittBoy is a handheld device that allows you to play NES/GB/GBC/GBA/SNES/SMD/SMS/PCE/NEOGEO games. It features a 2.4” IPS screen, a Micro SD card slot and a 700mAh lithium battery that lasts anywhere between two to four hours. Coming in at only $60/£45 (currently $40/£30), this little device should be a must-have for any fan of older handheld games, however, not everything is as perfect as it may look.
The included AV cable uses composite cables as opposed to the modern HDMI connection. Of all the bad decisions made with the BittBoy, this has to be the most baffling design choice of all of them. It seems like the idea to include an AV cable was purely down to the headphone jack doubling as a TV output.
The BittBoy 2 was originally intended only to play NES/GB/GBC games, however, the creators of the device recently released a firmware update that provides support for a number of different systems. From what we have tested, most (if not all) of these emulators run at 30FPS or lower. It appears to be more on a per game basis rather than a specific emulator not running games well, though there is almost no chance of running any 3D PS1 games, so you can you safely scratch that one off the compatibility list.
One of the biggest hurdles facing the BittBoy 2 is the lack of additional buttons for shoulder buttons. This sadly renders a number of great games unplayable, though it’s important to remember that this device was not originally made to support any of these consoles, so it shouldn’t come as much of a surprise that the design of the device limits the type of games that can be played.
While the build quality of the BittBoy 2 is nothing to rave about, it’s satisfactory considering its price tag. The device is small enough to fit in your pocket and is relatively lightweight. As we mentioned before, the 2.4” screen is also a tiny IPS panel, ensuring that the colours are crisp and bright. A volume and brightness slider would’ve been greatly appreciated as the current solution to adjust both of these settings must be done in-game. There is also no option to check the remaining battery life which can cause some issues if you have forgotten to use the save state feature.
Speaking of the save state feature, that is something you will have to get used to using across all of the emulators in the Bittboy 2 as you cannot save games normally on this device. Fortunately, we had no issues when it came to saving and loading states on the Bittboy 2 making this problem insignificant.
Sadly, the one physical attribute that really lets the BittBoy down is its D-Pad. If you’re hoping to play games that require quick, precise inputs such as fighting games or Tetris, this is where you’ll notice how bad it really is. Pressing one direction on the D-Pad will move the entire cross in the casing, and in situations where you are required to move your thumb in a circular motion – for example, when executing a Dragon Punch in Street Fighter – the plastic will make a horrible grinding noise. While this is a shame, it is by no means a dealbreaker. For the price and convenience, this is certainly something that you’ll be able to adjust to, particularly as the other six buttons provide such positive tactile feedback.
At just $40/£30, the BittBoy 2 is a solid handheld emulation device that is easy to recommend. With the recent release of the V2 custom firmware, its price tag seems further justified, even if you remove the titles that don’t run as well on it. It charges quickly, using a cable that everyone will already have lying around and with a 2-3 hour battery life, it’s a neat thing to carry around in your pocket while you’re travelling. While the alternative devices (PSP, Vita, GameBoy Micro, 3DS) may score points for build quality, comfort and performance, this device hits the sweet spot for size, price and convenience.