Retro gamers everywhere are familiar with the GameGadget, for all the wrong reasons. For the uninitiated, here’s how it’s described on their website:
GameGadget is the European Dingoo ("style") open source, retro gaming console with the power to play every retro game you ever experienced and is fully compatible with MAME!
Why they put “style” in parentheses and brackets, I don’t know. Anyway, this is what it looks like:
This handheld was probably the biggest controversy to be discussed on the Retro Gamer forum last year (SNES Vs Megadrive has died down finally), and I have to say I found the whole thing
fascinating. In a couple of months it managed to generate over 50 pages of disappointment, anger and frustration. For those with time to kill, you can read the whole saga here, but here’s an overview of what was promised: an “iTunes-style” experience in games shopping, with a legal alternative to using ROMs, and over 100,000 titles available across multiple platforms. Regular
updates and full support was offered. What customers got was an unfinished handheld that was rushed out to meet the release date, poor customer service and no games in the online store, bar a few freebie Megadrive games that the company (Blaze) had licensed for their Sega handheld clones.
Needless to say, the price was cut by £40 soon after release, the forums on the official website were heavily censored by the mods (and have since been removed completely), and fake reviews were posted on Amazon by Blaze employees in a sad attempt to boost sales. (Amazon have since removed the offending reviews, and the GameGadget currently has a well-deserved 1 out of 5 star rating). Blaze’s failure to secure licensed games available for download was highlighted publicly
when they Tweeted Sir Alan Sugar, asking about Amstrad games. They are still awaiting a response.
Nowadays, after management changes in the GameGadget project, it is sold purely as an open
source console for emulators and ROMs. Apologies have been made about broken promises and poor customer service, but the whole episode will be forever remembered as a massive missed opportunity.
And for your amusement, here is my Amazon review:
I was getting tired of my collection of outdated, bland-looking paperweights when I stumbled upon the GameGadget. Somebody told me it was created to play retro games on, without needing to download illegal roms. "The iPod of retro games" was how it was being sold. While I liked the retro design of the paperweight, I didn't want to buy something that had an alternate use - that would be a waste, and also detract from the primary use of keeping paper from blowing off of my desk. So I looked the product up and thankfully, the iTunes store that was promised to users actually contains no games! The reports of terrible customer service and favourable Amazon reviews written by Blaze employees would be of no consequence to me, as I was only in the market for a niftily designed retro paperweight. Whew, I thought, as I clicked the "Buy" button. This is will look great holding down my latest copy of "Gadgets That Don't Function" while I play roms on my modded PSP.
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My name is Iain and my addiction is making pixel bead art. My main inspirations are comics, video games and movies.