Thursday, 11 October 2007

PlayPal - Retro gaming on the go

Once upon a time there was a handheld games system. No, not the Game Boy, this one was in colour. No, not the Lynx either, but Sega's Game Gear.

This was a rather cool little system that unfortunately ate through batteries like a battery eating machine, but on the upside had a crystal clear colour back lit display and some rather decent games available for it, mostly ports from the Sega Master System.

It lasted six years against the unstoppable might of the Game Boy before being put out to pasture, but that isn't the end of the story.

Last year The PlayPal was released. It's based on the Master System rather than the Game Gear and comes with 20 built in games, including some fairly rare ones.

First though - let's have a look at what you get for your money (currently around £15).

PlayPal - Packaging
Retro Gaming on the go

First off - the packaging is actually rather decent. This is certainly no cheap Chinese clone system - all these titles have been officially licensed by Sega. You get the console and an AV lead. Yes kids, you can also play this on the telly (as long as it supports NTSC)! The d-pad is comfortable to use and the controls are responsive. The console is a little smaller than the original Game Gear and should be OK for all but the smallest hands.

The PlayPal
A Mini Master System?

The 2.4 inch backlit display is clear with bright colour definition, albeit at a low resolution. The sound is clear enough and even supports the FM sound samples in games such as Altered Beast ("Power Up!").

There is a good choice of games albeit with a couple of stinkers such as Snail Maze. High points are Sonic - Triple Trouble, Alex Kidd in Miracle World, Altered Beast, Columns (and Columns II), Global Defence, Eco II - The Tides of Time and Fantasy Zone.

Image:SMS Alex Kidd in Miracle World.png
Alex Kidd in Miracle World

That's seven really good games. Add the others into the mix (and who knows, you may even like some of them too) then you're looking at a bit of a bargain.

The PlayPal certainly gives you good value for your money. At the current exchange rate it's around 75p per game(!) on the handheld it is costs less than some budget games, plus you get the console too. Hopefully they will make a follow-up release with some more of the better Master System games.

In the couple of months since I first wrote this for Dan's Remakes the PlayPal has had daily use, not only by the kids but from my wife too. She has discovered the delights of Columns (no sniggering at the back there) and is hooked.

As a side note, I bought mine via Play Asia. Delivery took less than a week from Hong Kong and was very well packaged. They even gave a discount voucher against my next purchase.

Conclusion: A nice piece of nostalgia at a bargain price. Suitable for all ages.

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