Playing and futzing with 3DS stuff recently has been the significant mood my brother and I have been in for the last month. And this has inspired him to get further and further down the rabbit hole of retro-themed handheld streaming devices. I bring this up because the main thing I’m going to be talking about is the Retroid Pocket Flip. So let’s take a look at this piece of hardware.
The Retroid Pocket Flip is an Android-based Handheld gaming device created by the hardware company Shenzen Technologies, which is based out of Shenzen, China. They focus entirely on the development and creation of Android and Linux-based devices for streaming and emulation. I’ve been using it for the better part of two weeks on and off just to see how the thing handles. And what I’ve noticed so far is an interesting little handheld that is a good fit if you’re more of a retro enthusiast.
The first thing that stuck out to me was the aesthetics and ergonomics. It’s a clamshell design that’s closer to the 3DS and the Nintendo DS Lite in terms of size and portability. It comes in a variety of colours, but the one we went with was Indigo because the device itself and the buttons were in the GameCube colours, so it gets a point there. The screen is a very nice adaptive touchscreen that is useful for quitting out of the various apps or when you need to interface with apps directly. While this might be a case of me having big hands (it kind of is), I can’t hold the Flip for longer than two hours before my hands start to feel weird, which is where the grip comes into play. The grip is one of the inexpensive accessories sold alongside the Retroid Pocket Flip and it can be easily attached or detached for increased comfort if you got s case of big hands as I do. There are also magnet-based control pads to mimic controller sticks and adaptive triggers, though there was an instance where we had to do some futzing in order to get ours to work properly from a software standpoint (the button testing program that came built-in was being finicky and it was registering as a button for the right trigger). Those small grips aside, it’s a fantastic little device to hold and use.
And while all of that is nice, the Retroid Pocket Flip is a decent streaming and emulation device. The main tests I did on both sides were seeing how it could run both games available on the Cloud version of Xbox Game Pass and one of my favourite games on the GBA, Castlevania Aria of Sorrow respectively. In the case of the former, it was a mixed bag. While it ran the first game I was testing, Sniper Elite 5, just fine. The UI scaling was so absurdly small that I had to hold the Flip up to my face in order to properly see things. It wasn’t anything some scaling in the options couldn’t fix, but it’s still a thing to keep in mind when streaming more high-fidelity games. I also used it as an excuse to replay Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Shredder’s Revenge and it worked just fine, heck I liked it way more in the handheld format. So much so that I beat the game in two sittings.
On the emulation standpoint, the Retroid Pocket Flip uses RetroArch as the primary emulator with each console being represented as a core. The main one I was tooling around in was the GBA SP core because I was replaying Aria of Sorrow for the first time in over two decades. The emulation ran just fine, or at the very least it was fine enough that I didn’t notice any serious issues. I will say that the control mapping is a bit weird because the button layout is similar to the Nintendo home consoles but with the buttons of the GBA. Which leads to some wild scenarios where the A and B buttons are flipped, the Y button is a weird feeling stutter jump thing and the X button is a duplicate attack button. Again, not a deal breaker. Just very weird is all.
Overall, if you are a retro enthusiast looking to get their hands on a catchall handheld device or someone looking for a handheld device that can also stream games from Game Pass or even Steam Link, the Retroid Pocket Flip is for you. While I may have had some ergonomic issues, your mileage will vary and at the price of $164 dollars Canadian, it’s absolutely a great price if you are in the budget category. It gets the Bonus Action Seal of Approval.
Correction: The flip is 164 USD, but my thoughts have not changed on it's value! Great device!