|RS-60 Retro Handheld
Find it on: eBay, Amazon, AliExpress
With the myriad of retro game handhelds in the $10-15 category across Amazon, eBay and AliExpress, any new entry into this field is going to need to do something extra to distinguish itself from the field. The RS-60 Retro Handheld, with its sleek, slim form factor and overall solid 8-bit playability absolutely does this, making it worth the pick up. Now, keep in mind that this review is taken through the lens of the amount you’re paying for it. In this price range, you’re not going to be able to play your entire retro game collection, and there’s no customization or save states. What you do get, however, is a 500-in-1 NES SoC, with no duplicated games and surprisingly good audio quality and playability.
The RS-60 is clearly designed with portability in mind. It’s the length and width of a credit card, and the depth of the unit is 6.5 mm, which allows it to slip into any pocket. It comes in three colors: red, green and blue. The unit is as light as a feather and is ergonomically solid, allowing for normal gameplay times without discomfort in your hands. It’s perfect to have around for a train ride into work or if you’re looking to kill time while you’re waiting for someone. The buttons are responsive (though very clicky with almost no travel), and the 2.4 inch screen is adequately bright.
Though there are technically 500 non-repeated games, this comes with the standard caveat that you’ve likely never heard of about 95% of them. Still, you can find the usual suspects such as Super Mario Bros 1, 2 and 3 (labeled as Super Bear Bros, likely for copyright purposes), Contra, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles 2, PacMan, Tetris 2, DigDug, and Galaxian, among others. When flipping through, you’ll find around 25 titles you’re familiar with. It sports a 400mAh battery, which will give you around 2-3 hours of gameplay at a full charge, and will charge quickly once you plug in the provided USB cable.
The one knock on the form factor is that the manufacturer clearly bought a screen that didn’t fit into the shell, and placed a strange sidebar with the words “Games Power” to the right of the screen to cover the gap. There’s also no volume wheel, and you’re left with a button that plays four levels of sound. If you set the volume to maximum level, the audio quality sounds like someone scratching their nails against a chalk board. That said, it defaults to the third level (surprisingly decent audio), which you’ll need to keep in mind if you’re in a quiet place. The unit does not have a premium feel to it, and instead settled for a cheap plastic shell.
As I mentioned above, the SoC does not allow for save states, and there’s no way to exit back to the menu outside of hitting the reset button (which, again, resets the volume level). You’re also stuck with the 500 games you’re given. Sure, you could break down the unit and replace the SoC, but that’s far too much effort for a unit that you can find on eBay for under $4 (including shipping!) if you’re willing to wait 2-3 months for the unit to arrive from China. If you’re in the United States and want the unit immediately, I’d suggest buying from a local dealer, and you’ll have the console in your hands in 2-3 days if you’re willing to pay a premium (in this case it would be around $19).
I preferred the RS-60 over other competitors in this price range, including the Retro FC 168-in-1 and the Retro 333-in-1 handheld. Both are similarly situated in the $15 price range, but the RS-60 delivers more games, and also is dramatically thinner than both. If you’re absolutely dead set on a 3-inch screen, then the Retro 333-in-1 is the way to go, but otherwise, the RS-60 is best in its class, and comes highly recommended.