For geek gamers who want to go one step beyond cracking the firmware on their PSPs, there’s no denying that owning a GP2X F200 - the updated version of a bonkers Korean gaming handheld - gives you a measure of hacker chic.
It’s Linux. It’s touchscreen. It’s totally open-source. Most of the games are semi-legal. Many are, frankly, just nicked. Owning a F200 says, ‘Pirate and proud!’
No school like the old school
So it’s pretty cool, right? Well, if your thing is old-school SNES, MegaDrive and PC games, this really is a feast.
Downloading and installing games is as easy as drag and drop - there’s an SD slot built in and a card included. There is pretty much every SNES, MegaDrive, Neo Geo, Atari ST and Amiga ROM out there to install, emulator software for all the consoles, and an eclectic library of PC and arcade classics.
Fan sites are plentiful – and very, very intense - while games are updated regularly.
It also plays DivX and Xvid files without any additional encoding - a pretty neat trick in itself. And the screen’s really not bad, with pretty sharp, decent viewing angles.
The touchscreen is good, although it’s a tad less responsive than the DS’s, so you can’t get away with a
corner of thumbnail instead of the stylus. And of course, it’s not integrated into any of the retro games.
Getting 10 hours’ play off 2 AA batteries is also halfway decent.
OS is BS
But that’s where the good stuff ends. The buttons are unresponsive, meaning it’s difficult to work out if you’ve pressed anything or not, while the OS is so ugly it looks like a homemade website from 1995. That pretty much saps any enjoyment you might get out of its music and video capacity.
GP2X is open-source, of course, so someone might come up with their own spin on the players, or even the OS. We wait in hope.
New games wasteland
And then there are the games. If you’re not into emulation there are mostly Korean ones – incomprehensible, shrieking puzzles that feel like they belong on phones. ‘Homebrew’ games are mostly grotesquely bad.
And with twin CPUs clocked at 200MHz, there’s a limit to what you can emulate on this - so don’t expect to start seeing PSP or DS games on it yet. But keep watching…