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What the heck is on this $10 Retro Game handheld? Let’s find out!

Dracula

Plastic Vampire
(He/His)
You are the only one who can decide how much energy you have left to write about this sort of thing.

I, however, will continue reading it for eternity, given the chance.
 

Beowulf

Son of The Answer Man
(He/Him)
Looks like we’re going to keep going!


So, the Games Power 500-in-1! this was on eBay billed as Game Console Handheld Retro 2.4 Inch Screen Built-in 500 Classic 8 Bit Games. I paid $12.50 for it and I think $5 of shipping; it’s currently available for $16 with free shipping.


The packaging and instructions. I’d like to note that in addition to being trendy (like the previous device), this is also protable!


This is from the original ad, and gives you a good idea of how large this thing actually is. It’s not a credit card that you can fit in a wallet—it’s more like two credit cards next to each other.


I’d like to share a few choice images from the original eBay post.


I appreciate that I can pass the security check. Also that this is frivolous.

All that said, this thing is…it’s not a great device. The Abernic FC500 it a little light for a Game Boy-sized device, but feels decent in your hand, and the buttons and cross-key feel like a controller you’d be used to. While not actually as flat as paper, this device is less than half an inch thick, and everything about it was built to be small. The screen is smaller and lower-quality, and makes everything look harsher. The buttons are very flat and very “clicky”. The sound levels are digital (off, loud and louder) and default to loud when you press the Reset button, so every time you switch games you need to re-set the sound. You may have noticed on the front of the screen that there are three buttons down the side, Start, Vol and Res. Or more importantly, there is no Select button, which is going to make some games unplayable. Also, I probably played 25+ hours of the FC500 while trying 500 games, and I charged it four times at most. This doesn’t have battery life anywhere near that good.

I’ll do a batch of games tomorrow.
 

ArugulaZ

Fearful asymmetry
Wow, those games in the screenshots are barely recognizable. I hate it when systems like these have bilinear filtering turned on by default.
 

Sarge

hardcore retro gamin'
I feel like maybe they started with a word like "fun" and ran it through a few synonyms before getting the result. Like I can go from "amusing" to "lighthearted" to "frivolous" using a web search. :p
 

RT-55J

definitely not a robot
(He/Him)
I'm assuming that whoever/whatever translated that mistakenly made the reasonable assumption that "frivolous" carries the same sort of meaning as "frivolity".
 

Beowulf

Son of The Answer Man
(He/Him)
As I go down the list, I’ll be speeding through things we’ve seen before.

1. CONTRA 24IN1
2. FINAL MISSION



3. SUPER BEAR BROS3

No bears are actually involved—this is a title screen hack of Super Mario Bros 3, a game that was notably missing from the FC500. It being here is actually one of the few things that could recommend this device over the FC500, because I don’t think anyone will deny that this was one of the best titles for the NES.


4. SUPER SPRINT

I’m not sure if we saw this one before. It’s a racing game originally on the Atari 2600, that was an unlicensed port by Tengen for the NES.

5. TURTLES2
6. DOUBLE DRAGON
7. DOUBLE DRAGON2
8. ADVENTURE ISLAND
9. ADVENTURE ISLAND2
10. TANK A1990



11. SUPER BEAR BROS

This doesn’t even bother to change the title screen; it’s just a copy of SMB.


12. SUPER BEAR BROS2
(You can guess what this is.)

13. JACKAL
14. RUSH N ATTACK
15. THE LEGEND OF KAGE
16. HOT BLOOD BASKETBALL
17. HOT BLOOD SOCCER
18. TINY TOON ADVENTURES
19. NINJA GAIDEN
20. NINJA GAIDEN2
21. CHIP DALE1
22. HOT BLOOD WRESTLE
23. HOT BLOOD STORY
24. MIGHTY FINAL FIGHT
25. ASTYANAX
26. MITSAME GA TOORU
27. EXCITE BIKE
28. F1 RACE
29. BATTLE CITY
30. TETRIS2
31. CHINESE CHESS
32. FIVE CHESS
33. 4 MAHJONG
34. KUNG FU
35. MACROSS
36. CIRCUS CHARLIE
37. BOMBER MAN
38. LODE RUNNER
39. ICE CLIMBER
40. DONKEY KONG
41. ARKANOID
42. 100M DASH
43. 10 YARD FIGHT
44. 110M HURDLES
45. DONKEY KONG JR MATH
46. AIMLESS
47. ADVENTURES OF LOLO


So, we actually make it almost 50 games in with only a few titles we hadn’t seen on the other device. And this is a decent selection with a lot of “name” games. (If you’d like me to stop and comment on anything, feel free to say so! I’m figuring I’ll blow past anything we’ve already seen.)
 

Dracula

Plastic Vampire
(He/His)
I'll deny that Super Bear Bros. 3 was one of the best games on the NES! Why I've never even heard of the thing!!!
 

Beowulf

Son of The Answer Man
(He/Him)


48. AIR UMBRELLA

A sprite hack of Balloon Fight (#72) that we haven’t seen before.



49. LADANGEL

Ladangel is apparently a hack of Challenger, done by Inventor and featured on the Famicom Yarou multicarts. This (and presumably Challenger, as well), is maddeningly frustrating, as any number of things (including any enemy contact or stepping on the wrong space) will send you tumbling off the train and forces you to watch a sequence of it zooming away before you can restart.



50. LUCKY BALL

This is a hack of Pinball made by Cube Technology. I think we saw the same name on the FC500, but it was a different Pinball hack.

51. ANTARCTIC ADVENTURE



52. ANTIQUARIUM

A wonderfully-named Nice Code title we’ve seen before as Cute Fish (#442). The fish are actually less weird in this version, as most of them are actual fish!
 

Phantoon

I cuss you bad
Great Nice Code names strike again!

The button allocations on the thing annoy me to an unreasonable degree
 

Dracula

Plastic Vampire
(He/His)
Have we talked about Challenger before? I'm pretty sure we haven't. It's actually one of my favorite FC games. I first heard about it on Game Center CX.

It's quite an ambitious game. The first stage, with the train, is completely different from everything else in the game. The train level is based on an earlier title:

videogameden said:
Interestingly, it seems that Challenger is actually based on the hit game Bōsō Tokkyū SOS (also known as 'Stop the Express') originally released by Hudson Soft for the ZX Spectrum 48K in 1983 (picture on the right), and ported to the Commodore 64 and MSX in 1984.



Once you get to the end of the train, you drop down into its interior and have to run all the way back to the engine, but just as you arrive, the baddie forces you off, and you go to the next section of the game.

At this point Challenger opens up into a Zelda-like overworld, with villages, mountains, deserts, a city of strange geometric buildings, caves, and giant ant-lion pits. Apparently this is one of the first games with an open-ended overworld like this. It even has a rudimentary Zelda-like system, where you have to enter caves and buildings to collect three key items before you can face the final boss. But there's no dungeons (the caves are all one-screen action scenes where you jump across water jets), no friendly NPCs, and all the power-ups are semi-random drops from enemies.

And despite the surprising size of the overworld, the game is still very short. Once you get all three items, which are randomly sprinkled throughout the various doorways, you can go straight to the baddie's cave and complete a single screen Donkey Kong-esque action stage to win the game.

But it's pretty cool to see such ambition on such an early game, and it's really fun to play once you pick up on the quirky system.
 

WildcatJF

Valdez Museum of Video Game Box Art Intern
(he / his / him)
Challenger is wild in scope and ambition for a 1984 Famicom game (iirc). It's way ahead of so many other of its contemporaries, but I've heard it's also pretty rough because of its lofty aspirations. I have the cart and look forward to trying it at some point.
 

Dracula

Plastic Vampire
(He/His)
It is rough, but the rough edges are mitigated by how quickly you can experience the whole game. It also has a surprisingly complex difficulty selection feature.
 

Kirin

Summon for hire
(he/him)
Does this thing have a slightly sharper screen than the FC500, or is it just easier to photograph? I feel like most of the sample shots look just a tiny bit nicer for this one.

Challenger sounds like a trip, maybe I'll look up a play-through sometime.
 

Beowulf

Son of The Answer Man
(He/Him)
Does this thing have a slightly sharper screen than the FC500, or is it just easier to photograph? I feel like most of the sample shots look just a tiny bit nicer for this one.
It's smaller and a little brighter; I think it's just easier to photograph.

The button allocations on the thing annoy me to an unreasonable degree
Like on the FC500, the Y and X buttons function as turbo A and B. I'm irritated that they could bother to include that but not manage a Select button.
 

Phantoon

I cuss you bad
It's smaller and a little brighter; I think it's just easier to photograph.


Like on the FC500, the Y and X buttons function as turbo A and B. I'm irritated that they could bother to include that but not manage a Select button.
It's more the fact that this is a Famicom / NES clone and the buttons are backwards. I'm a stickler!
 

Beowulf

Son of The Answer Man
(He/Him)
53. TOY STORY
54. ARABIAN




55. THE ARCHER


More Nice Code—another version of Dragon Den (#460), where you need to shoot up at the demons and jump over the various things they drop on you. I think this is the actual bootleg port of the Xbox game of the same name.



56. ARCHERY


This looks like it was pulled out of a larger game. Like many of the other free-floating Olympic events, it has no title screen and no variety, just press left to loose an arrow and hope you’ve timed it well to hit the moving target.

57. BALLOON FIGHT




58. ASSART

Another variant of a Nice Code game we’ve seen before (as Miner1, #352), this is the one where you need to dig as many squares as possible but can only break three rocks. This doesn’t appear to be the original super-racist version, though.

59. BASE BALL
60. BATTLE CITY2




61. BEANKIDS

You’re the little yellow bean (which is apparently a horrifying cabbage patch face) and you need to jump through the teleporters and grab the gems while avoiding the green monsters. This is made more difficult by the fact that you freeze for a second in the teleportal but aren’t invulnerable during that time, so actually completing the level is artificially hard. We saw this as Convection (#106) back before I knew where to find Nice Code’s alternate titles. It’s also appeared as Teleport and Transmission.
 

Octopus Prime

Jingle Device
(He/Him)
I’d suggest another poll to determine the best Nice Code title, but we’ve got ASSART right there and that’s going to be the clear winner
 

Sarge

hardcore retro gamin'
Yeah, the archery game comes from Track & Field.



Curiously, the "angle" box is in a different spot, as is the "wind" indicator.
 
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