Dag / Anbernic 353V: retrogaming in a gameboy shaped console

Created Thu, 30 Mar 2023 15:12:47 +0200 Modified Fri, 17 May 2024 07:32:45 +0000

Anbernic 353V: retrogaming in a gameboy shaped console

People have many hobbies, such as reading, playing sports, listening to music or gardening. Instead, one of my favorite pastimes is playing video games. For me, it has always been a genuine journey of discovery of new worlds and new characters, a bit like reading a book, but in a more interactive way.

I own many of the best-selling consoles of all time, but I was looking for a solution to my desire to dust off old glories.

The problems

Playing video games on the original consoles requires you to carry each console with you at all times, unless you own backup solutions or backward-compatible consoles, which may not always be able to run all the games from multiple consoles.

For example, if I wanted to play Game Boy Advance (GBA) and PlayStation Portable (PSP) games, I would have to carry two separate consoles with me.

In addition, the backup solutions available on the market for older consoles, although perhaps cheaper at the time, are not cheap. Try, for example, to take a look at the flashcarts for the Game Boy.

So, what to do?

One option is to use a newer, better console in terms of power and performance to play older games.

I am not considering the Nintendo Switch, which is a console that is still in production, but it is difficult to play old games on it, and the Steam Deck, which is a full-fledged computer that does many things in the area of emulation. Both solutions are not cheap even though they do the job they were designed and created for very well.

Nowadays, the cheapest consoles with a good stock of titles are:

  • New Nintendo 3DS
  • PSVita

They allow most of the games of previous consoles to be emulated, but they are hard to find at normal prices, especially the latter.

There are two major problems while playing a recent title:

  1. “New” consoles do not always have the same aspect ratio and controls as the original version. For example, Nintendo DS games play on a 3DS but have black bands on the sides, while on a DSi (or DSi XL) they play perfectly.

  2. When home consoles are emulated by a newer device, it is difficult to get used to the controls. The feel of a certain controller on original hardware is often different from that of the target console.

This comes purely from the convenience of using one controller over another.

I have always liked the idea of carrying my entire game library with me and being able to have one console that can play my entire collection instead of having to own many different consoles. However, there are also advantages to being able to have more than one console, such as being able to play games exclusive to each console and having access to different features and services offered by each platform. In general, the choice of owning one or more consoles depends on each gamer’s personal preferences and needs.

Not all Game Boys are perfect: the SP is the excellence of compactness. However, over the years, the controls became small for my gradually growing hands, making it a bit uncomfortable.

A good Game Boy in terms of size might be the very first gray (DMG). However, it has a not inconsiderable weight and is not very portable compared to other consoles, as it is heavy in the pocket.

An excellent alternative to both models is the Game Boy Pocket (GBP), which is an excellent compromise both in terms of size, which is much smaller and more compact than a DMG, and in terms of the size of the controls (d-pad and buttons), which maintain the size of the DMG.

The Game Boy family has always suffered from the non-backlit screen, a serious shortcoming that over the years has been a problem for all those who wanted to play at hours other than daylight, risking losing a few diopters.

Where then can I find a “powerful” Game Boy with a good screen and capable of running recent games?

The compromise

And this is how we arrive at a very good compromise: the discovery of non-emblazoned retro consoles.

In the past, consoles were sold with OpenDingux, which never really intrigued me. On the one hand it was very interesting to have a console with a free operating system that could play many dated games, on the other hand they always gave me the impression that they had problems of some sort (arising not only from overheating, but also and especially from the controls).

In recent years, however, several retroconsoles from brands such as Powkiddy, Miyoo, and Anbernic have emerged.

The peculiarity of these consoles is that they often mount Linux or Android, making them perfect for all the geeks who enjoy adding or removing emulators and testing games.

Around 2019 I used to follow, and still follow with great pleasure, the Dr. Game channel, where there are several reviews of handheld consoles, from Famiclones to Power Player Super Joy to these types of consoles.

Initially, I did not like them at all.

I set out to research the various solutions on the market, and the choice fell on two models in particular:

  • Miyoo Mini
  • RG35XX

I searched online what these consoles were capable of doing, and found that they can emulate games up to PS1, but not perfectly Dreamcast, PS1, and Game Cube

The Miyoo Mini is just too small and uncomfortable to hold. Compactness is important, but not being ergonomic it is uncomfortable to use. This is very reminiscent of the Game Boy Advance SP in 2023.

The wrong purchase

Initially I thought the RG35XX was a good choice, but then I found that the power left something to be desired and the stock kernel was not excellent.

In short, not really the best choice.

I honestly would have appreciated if the console had better support from the original manufacturer, although there are custom firmwares.

The right purchase

I realized that many of the things I wanted were not available, such as Android support, so I decided to spend more and opt for the Anbernic 353V.

Before making the purchase, I went to look at various reviews on Instagram and Youtube: needless to say, there wasn’t much. All of them complained about the buttons on the back being difficult to press and uncomfortable.

I must say that I was quite satisfied with its technical specifications. What surprised me most, however, were the controls and toggles themselves, which far exceeded my expectations.

It is able to emulate many systems, such as Dreamcast and PS1 with a stable framerate, but also PSP titles and they seem to work great. However, it is not perfect, there are some things it cannot do, such as emulating the Gamecube or having a stable Android system (crashes every few minutes of play).

Despite the problems, this console has become my favorite handheld and I use it almost every day, especially to play PS1 titles and something on Android: on the latter, apps crash often, especially games.

Another thing I love is the fact that I can use it as a controller for other things-it’s a priceless feature.

I was a bit skeptical about the feedback of the controls, but I must say that the console emulates the feel of the Game Boy Pocket perfectly. Surprisingly, even after some time, my hand doesn’t sweat like it does with some controllers, such as the one on the PS4 or the first Xbox One before they overhauled the controller and put a grip on it.

Final conclusions

If you are looking for a handheld console that is able to satisfy your need for retro gaming, the Anbernic 353V is a solution worth considering.

I’m not saying it’s perfect, because it obviously has its pros and cons, but I personally found it to be a good quality portable console that offers a wide choice of emulators at an affordable price.

If you want to know everything, but really everything about Anbernic consoles, I recommend you check out awesome-anbernic, where you can find information about the various consoles, custom firmware, and much more.