Hooray, Another Way to Play GBA! Said No-one in Years.

Of all the things I could have posted on here in the past 6 months, for some reason it’s yet another GBA emulator that has piqued my interest. I can’t explain it and I’m sorry. Never the less, I absolutely love stuff like this and I’m going to tell you as much as I know about it starting from now. Here goes.

Coolboy are one of those brands that tend to release horrible sub $15 NES emulators in cheap plastic shells with bad screens. So we’re off to a great start with the Coolboy RS-90. The immediate apparent difference with the RS-90 (aka the RetroMini) though is it actually looks cool as hell. I nearly wrote it off immediately for not having shoulder buttons, but when I checked out some more images this morning I noticed they’d done something amazing with what looks to be a completely new mould that I’ve not seen on any other device. Check this out.

Either side of where the cartridge slot would be, and basically exactly where your index fingers would naturally rest they’ve stuck a pair of shoulder buttons. I’ve never seen this shell used on anything before, and if they came up with the design specifically for this device then massive kudos to them!

On my travels around the internet today, I’ve seen some people suggest that this is the fabled Revo K101 mini. At first, I really thought it might be, despite what I’ve heard about the K101 chips being out of production now. The image below is around 18 months old, and shows a mock up of the aforementioned K101 Mini.

One rendered variant of the unreleased K101 Mini.

Although it looks pretty similar, unfortunately this is definitely not one of those. This is certainly an emulator rather than a hardware clone, and the evidence can be found in this teardown of the device, which clearly shows an Ingenic JZ4725B CPU. That’s a China made MIPS CPU, similar to that found in the Dingoo A320, and used in plenty of other low priced devices.

Close up of the Ingenic CPU

Whilst this is a bit of a letdown, it also hints at the possibility of community development – such as with the Dingoo A320. It would probably require the device to become fairly popular for that to happen though, and in this day and age I’m not sure how likely that is.

Front view of the Coolboy RS-90 (aka Retromini)

The Retromini houses a tiny 2″ LCD, and comes preloaded with either 36 or 40 games. But it also has a microSD card slot, which allows you to load your own ROMs on to the device. It can apparently play GB and GBC ROMs too, as long as you convert them first.

And now it’s called the Coolbaby RS9? Make your bloody mind up!

There are a few videos of this thing on Youtube, and they show that at least the games demonstrated seem to play quite well. Having said that, a review on Amazon states that it seems most ROMs are frameskipping. It’s not immediately obvious if there’s a way to set this manually either, however in the reviewers photographs you can see it does at least has the ability to save state.

save state

There are a few retailers selling this, it can be found for $60 or £50 on Amazon. And at that price I would probably give it a miss, however today it was posted up on Fasttech for a mere $31.71. With discount code LIVIN5 that takes it to about $30.

Do I think it’ll be a great GBA emulator? Probably not. Did I get one anyway? I can’t help myself when it comes to GBA stuff. The awesome shell cemented the deal.

On a side note, it’s kind of interesting to see that in the images on Amazon, if you look closely at the motherboard underneath the shell, the etching reads GBC Mini. So perhaps this was originally destined to be a GBC, and somewhere along the way they decided to add some shoulder buttons and make it play GBA games instead.

GBC Mini?

Some videos on youtube:

I think the thing that fascinates me about these things, is that they appear out of nowhere. You can see the date on the motherboard in the teardown photos is October. So at some point probably in the middle of 2017, a small team of people in China set about designing and prototyping cases and circuit boards for this thing. They set up a production line, employed staff, created moulds, spent hours testing (yeah, maybe not!) and finally went in to some form of mass production. All with no fan-fare, knowing that it ain’t gona make anybody rich. I can’t help but have respect for whoever those enterprising individuals are! Have my $30!

If you feel like picking one of these up, either for yourself or maybe a youngun’s Christmas present, they’re available on AliExpress for about $30.

17 thoughts on “Hooray, Another Way to Play GBA! Said No-one in Years.”

  1. I wanted to chime in and say I’ve been using my Retromini with OpenDingux from zcrc.me (the 2019.05.17 version is more stable than the later version) and reGBA for a couple weeks and it works really great as a Gameboy Advance! It will run most game without frame drops/tearing. Some games won’t work (GTA, Astroboy so far) but most are fine. If you want 60FPS you need to overclock reGBA to 400+ Mhz (hit Select button when over the app and choose something faster than 360 Mhz), otherwise just use 30fps and you’ll be okay. Overall this is a great super-pocketable GBA.

  2. Any updates on how the consoles working? Kinda wanna buy one but if there’s a frame skipping issue then I think I’m gonna skip on this one

      • It is absolutely awful. Even RPG are near-unplayable. The weirdest part is that it isn’t consistent, slowdowns will appear/disappear at random. You can replay the same level and have a different emulation experience each time.

    • That’s very kind, but I really wouldn’t know what to do with it. Some of the homebrew looks kinda cool mind you! How come you didn’t use it at all?

      • Same boat. The homebrew is pretty simplistic and the device is far too small to be easy to use. I knew all this getting into it, but I’m a handheld junkie so… 🙂

        I ended up ordering one of these retromini last night. A little disappointed that they’re membrane switches. Hopefully they’re more like the GBA Micro than the AGB.


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