The Steam Deck has undoubtedly rekindled people’s interest in handheld gaming on anything other than a Switch. But if it never happened, 2022 would still have been a year full of Switch-sized gaming devices, thanks mainly to evolutions in the world of emulation. Right up front in that pack is new console maker AYN, with its crowdfunded Odin handheld, and it’s definitely super†
AYN’s pitch in 2021 was smart. A 6-inch screened gaming device designed not to run the latest AAA console and PC games, but rather one that can emulate previous generations to a standard the emu market was missing at the moment. It certainly turned out to be a popular idea: the crowdfunding target of 100,000 HKD ($12.7k) was blown out of the water and then completely off the planet, the grand total was eventually raised. reaching over $US3.6 ($5) million† And then, in stark contrast to most crowdfunded game companies, the device started shipping pretty much on time.
The early buyers have now received their devices and we are lucky to have been able to get one thanks to the very beautiful RetroDodowho have lent us theirs! If you want one for yourself, you’ll have to wait in line until August – something I immediately chose to do after playing with this one morning because it’s so damn good. This is the new best way to play your personal collection of retro console games.
There are three different versions of the Odin: the Lite, Base and Pro. The Lite is a significantly cheaper, but significantly less powerful machine, priced at just under $200 ($278). Since I haven’t used one, it’s hard to confirm how it compares to some of the more strikingly impressive emulations of the Base and Pro, but it’s safe to say it would be an extremely nice way to play games from N64. and play vice versa. So pretty much the same as the previous generation of emulation machines, like my personal favorite, the RG351M, but with a much larger screen and Android OS. But let’s move on to the main event, the Odin Base and Pro.
What we have here is a 5.98-inch IPS LCD screen, set in a machine that feels like the beautiful love child of a Nintendo Switch and Sony PSP. Smaller than a Switch, bigger than a Switch Lite, and much more comfortable to hold than either, it has a Snapdragon 845 and 4GB or 8GB of RAM, depending on whether you’re using Base or Pro. The only other differences between the two are the storage and battery life, with 64GB or 128GB of onboard storage and a 5000mA or 6000mA battery respectively.
All this in a very solid-feeling plastic housing that feels sleek and expensive. It has analog sticks in the top left and bottom right (oh Steam Deck, why couldn’t you have done this?), d-pad in the bottom left, and standard X, Y, A, B buttons in the top right. There are two shoulder buttons on either side and an extra pair of back buttons that sit right where your middle or ring finger will land. It feels good and heavy, but without feeling like a brick, certainly less cumbersome than a Switch or Switch OLED, especially as it’s a smaller box overall.
I’m not going to pretend I know my way around a Snapdragon CPU, but I to do know that the 845 is a few years old and might immediately concern some as the chip you would have found in a Pixel 3. But the good news is that some sort of evil magic (and cooling fans) allows the Odin to wring out so much more, and I’m blown away by the performance. This is the first handheld emulation device I’ve used that can run the classic shoot ’em up from the N64/Dreamcast. Bangai-O, with its insane processor-hungry action, with no smoke coming out the sides, let alone as smooth as butter. And that’s not even talking about the possibilities with PS2 titles.
The Odin comes with a custom build of Android 10, rather than the more common Linux-based OS of most emu machines. This also gave me a break, because I got to know my way around RetroArch and this took me into lesser known territory. Turns out I was a big fool because with the Google Play Store there, you can just download any emulation software you like. (Including RetroArchthough I didn’t have the patience to get it working.) It’s not quite as neat as having it all in one package, but with either the default Android home screen or Odin’s own launcher, you can jump between apps without any problem.
Once you’ve done this, it’s time to loot your personal collection of older games because, as you know, playing games you didn’t buy is piracy. And as I do with every emu device I get, the first thing I did was see if it can run Golden Eye†
Oh my god it can run Golden Eye† Every retro machine claims it can, but they never do. The Odin does! Unfortunately, this immediately led to my discovery that a modern two-stick gaming device is no way to play a game designed specifically for the N64’s craziest controllers. Oh yeah. But hey, it ran!
Equally surprising was how well it handled the PS2s Spider Man 2at least in terms of running at a solid framerate., unfortunately textures glitched in and out as if the city was under attack, which made it quite uncomfortable to play. Although, that’s the kind of thing that could potentially be solved with enough fiddling under the hood – the more exciting thing was how smoothly Spidey moved, climbed and swung through the flickering city.
Dreamcast emulation is handled excellently via dream againwhere I finally got my . have achieved Bangai-O dreaming, but also running around at full speed Sonic Adventureand raced over hills into crazy taxi† These are all games that I never got right on a handheld before.
The only thing I tried that the Odin couldn’t muster was… Surpass 2006 on PS2. But that doesn’t matter, because the PSP version ran sublimely well.
I have seen videos of people putting Windows 11 on the Odin Pro, runs on its own chip, meaning you can actually install Steam on this thing if you feel the need. Allows you to use the console controls mapped to the Windows 360 controller configuration for gaming. However, GamePass refuses to install. But in that linked video, cup runs at a constant 51 FPS, and even Skyrim manages 45-50.
But with the simplicity of being able to use the Play Store for emulators, and indeed for playing all your favorite Android phone games on a beautiful handheld, I don’t think I would feel compelled to move away from that OS. This is all so neat, the Odin has instantly become my number one way to play retro games. Except of course, it’s not really mine, and I have to return the machine to its rightful owner! That immediately put me in line for the device’s next production run, which will ship in August.
A quick note on that: I highly recommend buying one from AYN’s website, rather than the IndieGoGo† That’s not as easy as it first sounds, as Odin’s own homepage leads you back to the IGG, but Follow this link and you get it straight from the company. Why? Because you’ll save yourself about $US100 ($139). For some reason, the IGG version can only be purchased as part of a “Super Pack,” which includes the “Super Dock” and HDMI cable, screen protector, hard case, earbuds, and a bag. The dock sounds great, but I haven’t been able to test one yet, and the rest is crap you just don’t need. Pick it up from AYN and it currently costs $239 ($332) for the base and $289 ($401) for the Pro. (There’s also the Pro 256GB for $328 ($455), but the only difference is that extra storage, which you don’t need, since you can stick anywhere up to a 1TB microSD card.)
The Super Dock can be: bought separately for $US68 ($94), and let it dock like a switch, play on your TV through an HDMI connection, along with an Ethernet port, and you get five USB outputs for controllers, and best of all, two good ones. semicircular ports for your N64 controllers! That solves the problem Golden Eye matter! Strangest of all, it has a space in the back for a 2.5-inch SATA drive, which is downright odd.
I have for myself an Odin Pro coming in the summer and I am very satisfied. I’m just upset that I have to give this one back in the meantime. It will be quite a step backwards to go back to my tiny screened Anbernic to keep playing GBC Zelda games, let alone the whole other generation of 3D consoles it doesn’t support. And since Brandon “RetroDodo” Saltalamacchia so generously late Kotaku borrow his Odin you could do a lot worse than check out RetroDodoOdin .’s coverand their detailed comparison between the Odin and the Steam Deck†
2022 would be an interesting year for retro consoles launching with bigger screens, but with Anbernic’s RG552 turning out to be a disappointment and others just not showing up at the party, AYN has won this hard. The Odin is by far the best way to play emulated games today, finally seeing PS2, GameCube and Dreamcast emulation work on a handheld, with a beautiful screen, all in an incredibly comfortable shell.
#portable #game #console #doubt #play #emulated #games