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Retroid Pocket 2 Review: Worth, Wait or a Wreck?

The Retroid Pocket 2 is described as a “Handheld Retro Gaming System.” In other words it allows you to emulate classic games from older consoles you love all in the palm of your hand. While this can be done with a smartphone, touchscreens do not capture that reminiscent tactile feeling of your childhood gameboy advance or sega genesis controller. Setting up the Retroid Pocket 2 takes some technical know-how but performs excellently with a sleek and ergonomic retro design, streamlined for nostalgic gaming goodness making it well worth the $85 price tag.

Features under the hood

The Retroid Pocket 2 uses a dual boot system between Android 6.0 and the RetroidOS. Under the hood you have a quad-core Cortex-A7 ARM processor, Mali-400 MP2 GPU, 1GB LPDDR3 RAM and 5 GB of storage to play with. You can upgrade the microSD Card for up to 128GB storage.

The screen resolution is 640 x 480 60Hz at a 4:3 aspect ratio providing crystal clear gameplay with bright colors. It also comes with an HDMI cable if you want to play on the big screen. The 4000mAh Lithium battery offers around 4 hours of game time before recharging with its USB-C 2.0 port. The device also supports up to two players online with netplay or Bluetooth 4.0.

While these older parts don’t sound impressive, they are optimized for Android 6.0 to give you fluid gameplay with its emulators. The Retroid Pocket 2 can handle just about any game up to the Playstation 1, Dreamcast and Nintendo 64. Nintendo DS games are also supported but they might require some performance tweaks in the settings along with the additional $5 purchase of DraStic in the google play store.

Ergonomics

The Retroid Pocket 2 feels familiar and at home with my childhood consoles. Imagine a Nintendo Switch but the size of a Gameboy Advance. The D-pad is particularly impressive with a responsive subtle click, perfect for the types of games I would enjoy most on this device like platformers or fighting games. 

The joysticks could be a drawback for some since they aren’t both placed on the bottom. The lower right joystick also feels much less fluid with a lower profile, similar to a 3DS joystick.

Every 2D game I playtested performed flawlessly. A few examples are Street Fighter, Metal Slug, Golden Sun, and Final Fantasy VI which all played smoothly and looked beautiful on the Retroid Pocket 2’s screen. 

3D games however are hit or miss depending on the game and console emulator. Most games performed great but Nintendo 64 titles often struggled to run smoothly. After some investigative work on forums and the wiki I was able to optimize settings for a better experience.

Setup

The Retroid Pocket 2 isn’t exactly a pick up and play right out of the box device. When you first turn the power on you will be greeted with the good old Android 6.0 user interface. 

To start gaming as soon as possible go into your apps and install the Retroid app. Once launched it will switch over to the RetroidOS where hundreds of games are preinstalled. If you want a specific game try entering the game store after connecting to your wifi. You can also place games directly on to your microSD card from a computer. Be careful not to format your SD card or you will lose the RetroidOS. Fortunately you can always recover the lost files on here on the wiki page. 

If you want to dig deeper into everything this device has to offer, you can explore the wiki and reddit pages. Here you will find more detailed setup and customization guides. You may enjoy the other frontends/launchers available like DIG or RetroX. There are even tips on optimizing your settings for specific games to run smoother. 

Bonus Tips

  • Mouse Mode: Long press the home key for 1 or 2 seconds 
  • Mouse Speed: Press the D-Pad Left for slower and Right for faster sensitivity.
  • Screen Brightness: Hold Start + Volume Up/Down.
  • Manually add your games to the /Roms subfolder on your microSD card. 
  • Replace microSD with a higher capacity (Here is a great guide by wagnerstechtalk).
  • Try out other Frontends/Launchers like Pegasus, RetroX, Dig or Classicboy
  • Check out the Retroid Wiki for more tips!

Conclusion

The Retroid Pocket 2 is a high quality, portable gaming nostalgia trip and only $15 more than a pair of joycons. Out of the box with the RetroidOS this is a great package but enjoying it to the fullest will require some tinkering in the settings or using other frontends like RetroX or Dig. The setup may be complicated for some but overall the device performs as intended with a retro, gameboy-like feel and design. I will continue to enjoy my favorite old school RPGs and arcade fighting games at the comfort of my bed.

Check out the Retroid Pocket 2 Here

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