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. To the best of my knowledge we haven’t seen another handheld from them until now. To mark the 10th anniversary of the company, Hardkernel have released the Odroid-Go emulation handheld. The device comes in a kit which contains everything you need to assemble the handheld yourself.
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 place and there’s no soldering required. Just be careful when fitting the screen as it’s a tight squeeze. Making sure there’s no dust trapped between the LCD and the lens is important too. 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, a 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. Currently emulation is a bit rough around the edges with many games running too slowly. I would expect this to improve with time though.
The LCD is a 320×240 panel which is fine straight on, but at other angles it quickly becomes 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. A 4GB card will be big enough to put the entire library for each supported console.
I got mine from odroid.co.uk for £40 + p&p. If you’re in the US it may be cheaper direct from HardKernel.
14 thoughts on “The Odroid-Go Is HardKernel’s 10th Anniversary Handheld Game Kit”
It’s a shame more people didn’t have a chance to play Lufia, Lufia II, and Illusion of Gaia. Those RPGs definitely deserve a spot on this list.Especially more than Contra 3. And heck, what’s with Kirby 3 taking a spot on here and not Kirby Super Star? Come onnnn.And why are there no puzzle games on here? Tetris Attack was the best!
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! 🙂
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.
Unfortunately the 8b device is 320×240, so it’s junk in a different way.
The Odroid Go has also a 320×240 display.
The RetroStone has much more power, a better design and enough buttons for the emulated systems. An other important point for me is the possibility to use it as media center on holidays. I hate it, that the TVs in the hotels don’t play the whole content from my hard drive.
Both devices are already out. My RetroStone is shipped.
The Raspiboy is out in the 2nd revision and they take preorders for the 3rd revision.
I’ve read the the SD card used can effect performance. But who knows.
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.
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.
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.
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!
Reading this old comment in 2019.
Retroflag GPi came out and it sells like crazy. You were absolutely right.
Thank you. 😀
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.