Retro Consoles In My Pocket

One thing I love to do with a brand new, top of the line, piece of tech is see how it emulates brand new, top of the line, tech from 20 years ago. This is an area where Android and its open culture really shine. I was excited to find myself playing SpaceTaxi with little more than a marketplace download and a visit to c64.com. Nintendo support is amazing, with Nesoid and Snesoid. The list of emulators in the marketplace scrolls on and on.

I have found one big problem with retrogaming on a phone; touch screens make terrible classic controllers. I find myself losing track of where my fingers are needed and miss a button at the worst possible time. The phone’s hardware keyboard kind of works, but it’s cumbersome for any fast moving game. There is the Game Gripper, which attaches a plastic controller pad on top of the phone’s hardware keyboard. This is a great way to get a real d-pad on your phone. The only drawback is that you have to carry around an extra piece of plastic.

The app Wiimote Controller offers something completely different. You can sync a nintendo Wii controller to your android phone via buletooth. Controller buttons are mapped to keyboard events. At first it seems like a novelty since carrying around a Wii controller, and propping up your phone so you and use it, is cumbersome at the very least. One feature of this app however makes this a very intriguing solution: Connect up to 4 controllers at the same time. With that, it’s not so much about gaming on the go, as it is bringing an array of consoles with you in your pocket. A 2 Gigabyte SD card can easily hold over three decades of gaming. For those of us in our thirties, that’s an entire childhood in retro gaming nostalgia.

The ultimate scenario is to plug your phone into a television for the full console experience. Unfortunately, my Droid 2 is lacking in this feature. I quickly learned that android, in general, is lacking in a good screen-casting solution. If your phone does have an hdmi out, then you’re all set. Even without an HDTV it’s a great solution for two player gaming in the back of a car, or over a table top. Here’s a video featuring the Wii controllers in action, starring my son and his friend playing two player TMNT2 on Nesoid.

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