The Odroid-Go Is HardKernel’s 10th Anniversary Handheld Game Kit

HardKernel is a South Korean hardware manufacturer founded in around 2008, although best known for their RPi style Single Board Computers one of their first devices was an Android handheld bearing a passing resemblance to the Bandai Wonderswan. Since then, to the best of my knowledge we haven’t seen another handheld from them until now. To mark the 10th anniversary of the company they’ve released the Odroid-Go, which is sold as a game kit. The parts are sold as a bundle and the buyer assembles the device themselves.

Mine arrived on Saturday and I put it together yesterday. Unless you’ve never taken anything apart and re-assembled it before you won’t learn much from the assembly experience, it is very straight forward and it only took my fat fingered self about 20 minutes. There are instructions on the Odroid Wiki page but even they’re not really necessary. Everything clicks in to place and there’s no soldering required, the only bit you have to be careful with is putting in the screen (it’s a tight fit) and making sure there’s no dust trapped between the LCD and the lens. I can totally see how it would be a great learning experience for a young child, if only to understand what makes a device like this tick.

The device is powered by a custom ESP32-Wrover, which is low cost development board with 16MiB of on board flash memory. It’s compatible with the Arduino SDK which means there’s an opportunity to develop for the platform if you wish. The HardKernel site currently has some basic coding guides available, as well as instructions to turn the device in to a portable weather station and ultrasonic distance measuring app (both with additional hardware). The board has an expansion port at the top, and comes with a 10 pin header to allow you to add additional modules.

The stock firmware contains emulators for Game Gear, NES, Game Boy Color, Game Boy and Master System. It looks like there’s been a firmware update since the version in my photos, but I am yet to find out whether this improves the emulation at all. Currently emulation is a bit rough around the edges with maybe games running too slowly and some refusing to load at all.

The LCD is a 320×240 panel which is fine straight on, but outside and at other angles it quickly becomes a bit washed out. Having said that, it’s all perfectly acceptable when you see that the price is a mere $32. Granted shipping is extra, but it’s still cheap enough for what you get. The controls are great and overall the unit is very solid.

You will need a microSD card to load the OS and ROMs on to, and given the emulators it currently runs I think you can put the entire library for each console on to a 4GB card.

I got mine from odroid.co.uk for £40 + p&p, but if you’re in the US it may be cheaper direct from HardKernel.

9 Replies to “The Odroid-Go Is HardKernel’s 10th Anniversary Handheld Game Kit”

  1. I like the devices from 8b craft ( http://www.8bcraft.com/ ). More buttons, more speed and Retropie.
    The Raspiboy is like a SNES Portable with RPi Zero inside.
    The RetroStone is like Classic Gameboy, but with 4 action buttons and shoulder buttons and a more powerful Amlogic H3 CPU.
    I don’t know, if i order only the RetroStone or the Raspiboy too. Both form factors are so cool! 🙂

    1. You prefer something that is like 6 times the price and not even out yet?

      Thats like saying a 2018 Toyota Corolla is fine but you prefer the 2020 model astin martin vanquish.

      1. Unfortunately the 8b device is 320×240, so it’s junk in a different way.

  2. I’ve read the the SD card used can effect performance. But who knows.

  3. davidknight247 says: Reply

    I purchased one shortly after release. It is undergoing heavy development at the moment. The Master System/Game Gear emulation codebase was recently changed to a more accurate one which improves compatibility and accuracy.
    Further improvements are in the pipeline, see here for updates: https://forum.odroid.com/viewtopic.php?f=159&t=31348
    There’s also a Spectrum emulator and Doom has also been ported (naturally!)
    Because of the very low power dual core 240MHz esp32 cpu battery life is amazing considering it uses a 1200Ah battery. I have managed to eek 19hours out of it though 10 hours is far more realistic for normal use.
    I personally intend to port a few emulators over in the near future but it already now officially supports Colecovision with doubtless more 8-bit systems to follow.

  4. For me, on the go means short bursts, and while i love the GBA, a lot of the best games for it were longer form RPGs that dont really translate as well for quick play.

    This has savestates for all emulators and good quality controls in the right position so im sold.

  5. This is very cool. We’re really in an embarasment of richest scernario these days. I’d have jumped at this the moment I saw it 5 years ago, or even 2 years ago…. but today, there are just far more capable systems available for basically the same price, or even lower. Want something smaller? That exists for about the same price. If you want something with more power, that exists.

    1. Well, crap. I can’t edit my post, and I really didn’t mean to send it yet.

      Basically, I was just wanting to say that the main selling point I see here is that you build it yourself, and there exists the potential for being able to make this gadget do a lot more than just play emulators.

      If Raspberry Pi would come out with an official kit like this for the 0W, or a beefier one for the 3b+ – it would sell like crazy!

  6. It seems like every new handheld is a near miss. I’d be happy to pay for a device in this formfactor with shoulder buttons that had good emulation and could do GBA too.

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