Its creators call it the “iPod For retro games”. GameGadget from Blaze Europe is a new Linux-based portable games console designed as a platform for games released on now-defunct consoles.
Blaze says the GameGadget platform gives the developers an opportunity to revive their library of classic games, receiving revenue from their original works, and even create new titles.
Games already available for the device include Sega Megadrive titles like Alex Kidd, Altered Beast, Columns, Comix Zone, Ecco the Dolphin, Golden Axe and Virtua Fighter 2.
Advertisement: Story continues below
But with dedicated gaming handhelds like the Vita and the 3DS struggling against the increasingly ubiquitous smart phone, is there any spare space left in our pockets for another device? We asked Blaze Europe marketing manager Chris Walton to try to convince us to find some room.
What sets GameGadget apart from other portable consoles?
The main difference between the GameGadget and other consoles is the focus on retro gaming and the tight integration with “GameGadgetGames” – the “iTunes”-style digital download store. The other consoles out there that facilitate retro gaming require the user to make risky modifications to their hardware and software and also require them to source games from sites that do not share the revenue with the original developers.
What are you hoping to achieve with GameGadget?
Our goal is for GameGadget to become the industry standard for retro gaming. We would like GameGadgetGames to host every single retro game ever and for users to be able to purchase these games in a way that the original licensors/publishers to benefit from this financially.
We are not an emulation company. We are a games company, focused on securing the rights to popular games. We are speaking with a number of content providers to ensure we have a number of great games.
Will the GameGadget be able to play NeoGeo or 32x titles?
The GameGadget hardware supports software formats up to 32-bit and firmware upgrades will add the necessary software to support new game ROMs. All the necessary libraries will be added via a firmware update before ROMs are added to GameGadgetGames.
There is also a development plan for future consoles so that we can support every retro console ever (released) going forwards.
Besides established developers, are you hoping to attract indie and homebrew developers?
Yes – there will be extensive developer opportunities. We have an SDK available for developers. Any developer will then be able to upload their games to our online store where they will be able to make money from every single sale.
Developers can already release their content via services like PlayStation Network, Xbox Live Arcade, Steam and the Nintendo Store – why would they put their content on GameGadgetGames?
Submitting your ROM to PSN, XBL, Nintendo Store etc requires a financial investment to “port” the ROM to the new format. GameGadget allows developers to utilise their existing ROMs with no financial investment. They simply need to provide the ROM and GameGadget do the rest. It is a no cost, low-risk revenue share business model.
What OS does the GameGadget console run on?
It is a bespoke operating system developed on a Linux framework.
If the OS is protected against jailbreak and the games have DRM, what is the source your customers can modify?
The console has two “modes” – one is an open source mode and one is the “locked down” mode. Think of the “open source” mode as “developers mode”, just like the Sony PlayStation Yaroze. The DRM system is our “iTunes-style” download delivery platform that protects consumers and IP holders alike. We hope that people will develop games on our open platform and offer them for sale on our secure delivery platform.
Given that you are allowing publishers to set the cost of their games, what is the price range?
The range of prices will be from $1.50 – $7.50 (on average) with some being free and others being a little more expensive.
Linux based portable gaming devices haven’t exactly taken the gaming world by storm. The GPH Caanoo, for example, hasn’t done very well, due mainly to its poor game library. How will the GameGadget escape the same fate?
The developers of the Caanoo have made no attempt (to our knowledge) to reach out to original game developers and licensors in order to license their content. We are working directly with the major players (and the smaller guys) in the retro gaming world to license their games.
How does the GameGadget compare to other devices such as the Dingoo A320?
The Dingoo A320 relies heavily on experienced technical users and a network of illegal websites – consoles like the A320 are why “emulation” has such a negative connotation. At GameGadget we work with the original developers, licensors and publishers to provide content for the end user for download from our ‘iTunes style’ digital download platform.
GameGadget is also very user-friendly and requires no technical experience. The Dingoo A320 requires users to modify their console and to also source their own content – the GameGadget has everything ready to go so you don’t have to make risky modifications.
Can we expect better sound quality than what we’ve seen with Blaze’s previous MegaDrive clones?
Yes. GameGadget is a totally different product. It is actually a small computer, thus the increase in price. Previous products have used much slower and less powerful processors, therefore the sound quality, on previous versions, although very good, have never been as good as GameGadget.
Where can you buy a GameGadget, and how much does it cost?
The GameGadget website has links to online retailers that sell the console. It retails for £99.99 (around AU$150).
– Mike Wilcox