Me? I’m a simple guy really. I don’t need much, just good food, friends, music, and every NES game ever published available for me to play anywhere at anytime. That’s not too much to ask is it? Apparently I’m not alone in my nostalgia addiction. ThinkGeek’s Dingoo’s A320 Pocket Emulator is there to help me play Megaman 2 during conference calls (not recommended – at least not on Quickman’s level).
The A320 comes with a few preloaded games. They range from iPhone time-passer games to Playstation 1 quality 3D hack and slashers. But that’s not why you bought this thing. Its operating system has built-in emulators for the original Nintendo Entertainment System, Super what-I-just-wrote, Gameboy Advance and Sega Master System (sorry, no Genesis).
Right out of the box, the A320 feels cheap. It just looks like it won’t stand up to much abuse. That being said, mine has been fine for months of consistent use, a few falls, and even a spill. The menu system looks pretty sleek although there is some engrish here and there that might confuse you a bit. The spacing of the controls is pretty close to the old NES controller and you’ll get the feel of having a controller in your hand using this device.
Interfacing it with the computer is easy. Its just a standard USB connection that lets you drop files of any type onto the device’s drive. Hook it up and load copies of all the NES, SNES, Sega Master System, or Gameboy Advance ROMs onto the system and you’re ready to go. You did, of course, only download and copy ROMs of games you actually own, right? Good.
Getting My Metroid On
I’m pretty picky about solid emulation. The A320’s emulation varies between super awesome, and barely playable depending on the system you use. We’ll start at the lowest bits and work our way up.
NES emulation is solid. You can play games that require real accuracy in control like Metroid, Megaman or Faxanadu without losing because your guy jumped a second after you pushed the button. The music is very faithful to the original NES synthesizer. Even Super Mario Bros 2 sampled sounds come thru nicely. The graphics look great and scrolling is smooth. Sega Master System emulation is of similar quality. Everything looks as it should and there is little frame rate loss.
Moving onto higher bits, the SNES emulation is the weakest of the bunch. The graphics look great, even complex transparency effects and mode 7 graphics look exactly as they should. But if you run sound and music, you’ll notice a huge drop in frame rate, enough to make some games unplayable. However, the frame skip feature saves the day. Disable the music (its not emulated very well anyways) and up the frame rate and you can play almost any SNES game at acceptable quality level.
The Gameboy Advance fares slightly better on sound and music but suffers the same framerate issues as the SNES. I mostly only ended up playing RPGs for the Gameboy Advance on this device. It was just too annoying otherwise.
The A320 comes with lots of extras too. It plays MPEG videos, MP3s, has a text file reader, and even flash games. It even has an FM radio – if you remember what those are. This is a pretty decent portable gaming system. Its biggest plus are similarity to old controllers that make your old favorites much more playable than they’d be on a touch screen. One of the most awesome features is the Av/Out to hook it up to your TV.
If you’re a nostalgia nut like me, you’ll love this device. Then you’ll discover Rom Hacks of Zelda, and spend the better part of a year looking for the 6th dungeon, only to find it was under a tree. Then, you’ll hate this device for reactivating your 1980’s OCD, but at the end of the day, you’ll be having a blast with the A320. The Dingoo a320 Pocket Emulator is available for $119.99 at ThinkGeek. Score it as soon as you see it in stock, these guys tend to sell out fast!