Original Archos Gamepad and Emulator Retro Games Review – Compared with the GCW Zero
As you recall, we took a look at the GCW 0 a few weeks ago, which was a great open source handheld that I’ve been really getting a lot of use out of and really enjoying it. But a viewer, davyous wrote in and said hey. You should check out the Archos gamepad too, because it has a lot more horsepower. It can do a lot more because it runs Android and it’s kind of you know a little bit of a beefier system. So I went out and thought I bought a gamepad too. It turns out, I only got the one, so this is hit here, it’s a little less powerful, but it costs the same as the GCW. So this is actually a good one to one comparison of where your money can go. It is a lot bigger than the GCW is. You can see the GCW doesn’t even take up its entire screen size. This is like a 7 inch. Android tablet. It’S got a dual core cortex processor, the gamepad too. I could not find one and I thought, like I said I thought it was buying a gamepad too, when this showed up, but the gamepad too would cost a bit more because it’s kind of a higher end device with a quad core CPU and everything else. So we’re gon na, though, take a look and kind of step through it and I have to say, I’m really not impressed with the controls on it.
They’Re they’re very springy, the the the control sticks here, aren’t very precise, and that was kind of a disappointment, especially because this one’s nothing to shout out either on the GCW, but it does feel better here than it does here. The the other problem I had was that they put the l2 and r2 buttons on the front because they couldn’t fit them on the top, because the device is very thin. And the result is that, if you’re playing a game where you’re holding down like one button and need to push the other one so like you know, I could be a kind of scenario XA in this case. Your your thumb hits this button because it’s actually raised higher than the other ones it’s kind of hard to see on here, but this button is very much higher than these two and it’s very easy to hit that. So that was kind of a disappointment. But I have to say, though it does feel nice in the hand, even though the controller isn’t, all that precise it doesn’t, have much in the hardware department, it’s, gotten HDMI out and in fact we’re running it right now through my scaler. So you can see here that it can actually do a mirrored display to 1080p it’s, pretty cool headphone jack power, switch volume up and down those two rocker controls that I showed before nothing on the sides and it does have room for a microSD card at the Bottom, although a lot of retro emulators don’t support those cards, so you’ll need to move data on to the device itself.
One other thing of note is for the modern Android games that don’t have joystick support, although a lot of them are beginning to do that now, there’s, a special overlay feature where you can take this little overlay thing here and drag buttons on to where the touchscreen Button would correspond so if I was playing a game where there was a button where I had a push on screen, I could move this over here map it to the a button and any time I hit the a button it’ll tell the gamepad to register that Screen push which is really cool, it’s, a way to get tactile controls on games that were not designed to use the joystick. The other nice thing is that the gamepad built into this is compatible with the Google standard API for game controls. So any game that supports a joystick will support this out of the box, which is pretty cool. You probably have to map some controls around and stuff cuz. Things tend to be a little bit different from device to device, but it works quite well. So we’re not going to really play too much on the modern side, because we really wanted to see how this thing held up for retro performance. And I will say that without question, it’s going to support like the Nintendo and the Super Nintendo, just fine I’ll show you the Super Nintendo in a minute, but this is an Android handheld it’s, an ARM Cortex dual core processor.
So any Android emulator that you like and love on your phone is going to run more than likely will run on this. So you don’t have to worry about that. But we’re gon na do is check out stuff that that taxes, the hardware a little bit more specifically we’re gon na look at the Dreamcast first and there’s. A emulator called recast, so we’re going to load that up real, quick and I just got to go find where my Soulcalibur is. I have a Dreamcast and I own Soulcalibur. I bought this game right when it came out. This is like a launch title and I have to say I was impressed that the the Archos can really keep up with Dreamcast games. The emulator is a little glitchy in the video Department, but the fact that it can run these quite well and mirror the display out to 1080p at the same time is really pretty cool, and I found that to be quite useful, so we’re gon na just skip Through the screens here and get into the game real quick, so you can see how it functions I’m, just going to select 60 Hertz. I did find that I couldn’t really map this button, all that well, but the other ones do work on it and this supports the joystick natively. So you can turn off those screen controls. You can see there’s a little bit of glitchyness going on here, but we’re really after here is the framerate, and what the power of the system is, because they can always improve the emulator and make it work better.
The framerate is actually and you’ll, see here in a second really decent. I was surprised with how good it was, especially because this is not the most expensive device in the world, but there you go so it’s a little bit glitchy and again that’s the emulator kind of doing its thing. But the models of the characters seem to be really holding up quite well, and, and the graphics are really really decent for for an older game, but also the fact that it runs as well as it does. Here is pretty cool the next one, we’re gon na check out his final burn alpha, which is an arcade emulator, and we looked at that on the GCW and found that afterburner 2 was kind of ran okay, but it wasn’t it wasn’t as fast as it was In the arcade, so here it is running on the GCW. This is again through an android emulator called a FBA and it’s kind of nice. It actually has a whole bunch of information on the game and some screenshots. This is all stuff that it downloaded itself. So it kind of looks for what roms you have and makes it work. And here you go it loads up pretty quickly and it seems to run fairly nicely we’re seeing a little bit of lines on there. But I think that might be a combination of my scalar running and doing some funky stuff to it. There is, and I know somebody wrote in a few weeks ago saying that I need to talk more about the video filters available.
There are video filters available on this emulator, so you can apply different different settings to it. So I think we could go in here and I think it’s here we can set up different scan lines. So we can, you know, give it give it a look, Sal it’ll flaky on my display here, but on the actual device it looks pretty cool. You can set up all sorts of different scanline emulations to make it look like it did back in the day, but as you can see a run so with all the filtering and the fact that we’re using a neuron, it actually runs really well. So I have to say that that is an impressive little display of its capabilities. Alright, the last we’re going to check out is just a Super Nintendo game, so you can see how that works and by the way I did try MAME on it. Also – and you know I found maimed this didn’t work too well, the controls were kind of funky. In fact, I couldn’t push more than one button at a time, and I don’t know if it was just the some of the mapping was messed up or maybe they need to update the emulator a little bit better there’s a there is an emulator for, like a Multi emulator system called retroarch, which I didn’t really get a chance to play too much with yet. But but you know, I think, it’ll run fine once you get everything configured and operating so one hundred and fifty dollar question is which one of these systems is best for retro gaming, and I think it really depends on what your definition of retro gaming is now I’M.
37. So for me, retro gaming is Atari calico Nintendo the Genesis kind of cut it off right at the end of the 16 bit era for those games. I think the GCW is the better choice and the reason is has better controls. First of all, especially the gamepad is just so much better than what I’m finding here on the Archos, but also because it’s screen is smaller and of lower resolution. This screen is 320 by 240, which is very very close to the native resolution of all of those retro gaming systems. So they really look a lot nicer on the GCW and I like the smaller screen too, if I’m having a portable system. This is really not so portable to me, but for newer stuff, especially all the current Android games, but Dreamcast and PlayStation and GameCube and Saturn all those modern, more modern, emulators they’ll probably run better on this, mainly because it has a lot more horsepower and the fact That the screen is a little bit bigger and, and this resolution is higher, so those higher resolution games will probably look a little bit better on this. So it’s kind of a trade off the battery life on this isn’t, so great the Archos from what I’ve been reading has better battery life. Again, I thought I bought the Archos 2, but I ended up with this one, but I can almost see the battery kind of drip away on this thing so that you may want to have a plug or a backup booster battery nearby whenever you’re gaming on it.
But yeah, so I think I’m gon na take a look at maybe the Nvidia shield and if they can get a hold of the Archos to maybe check that out as well. But I think for retro gaming. This is still where it’s going to be at. For me, at least for for some time until something better comes around, this is LAN Simon.