I must admit, I did not have “become a gamer” on my bingo card. Back in June I watched the Tetris movie, and I remembered how much fun I had playing Tetris 30(ish) years ago, and then I posted this to Mastodon.
I’d love to get a portable game device that could play Tetris.
I have no idea where to start with this. I don’t want actual Game Boy hardware, just some affordable facsimile.
I’ve seen a ton of devices online, but would love a recommendation from someone who has tried/used some.
I also looked around and found the Anbernic RG35XX which looked like it might work, then read this thread from Dan about the “Game Dad” as he calls it, which sealed the deal. I still went with the cheaper model because I am not a gamer (or am I!?!?) and I really just wanted to play Tetris.
Dan (and others) mentioned how a device like this can get you away from “doomscrolling” on your phone. Instead of opening up some social media app and just scrolling and scrolling… and scrolling… you might engage your mind with some puzzle solving in a game. Now sure, there are apps that are games, but then you’re still on your phone, and the app may have ads, and you may get notifications on your phone. Also, the controls (a touch screen) are not great for many games. And like… I just don’t want to play games on my phone!
There’s that whole idea that gaming can help with your mental abilities as well. (There are so many articles about Tetris or other games being good for your brain I won’t even link to any.) Needless to say, some people have said game playing really helps them deal with anxiety and ADHD.
So I got an Anbernic RG35XX (terrible name!) and used it for about a week before I installed GarlicOS which is a port of RetroArch for the RG35XX. Hey, I’m still not well versed in all of this, but I noticed searching for ROMs in GarlicOS was missing, which I really liked in the stock OS. Well, there are apps for RetroArch, including a romSearch app.
Anyway, I have now played a lot of Tetris. I also played Tetris DX and Tetris Worlds. There’s Game Boy, Game Boy Color, and Game Boy Advance, each with different versions. Neat! The funny thing is, I actually do have a Game Boy (Camera) which uses my daughter’s old GBA, and I swear I saw a Tetris cartridge somewhere in my office years ago. My daughter also had a Nintendo DS many years ago, and we do have an old Game Cube and Nintendo Wii. (Well shit, now I sound like a gamer! But really these were all casual things for family gaming. I almost never just played games by myself. But now… I do. (We were a big Animal Crossing family back in 2007.)
So yeah, I love this little device. The Anbernic Rg35XX is around $60 USD and you get a zillion old games on it, ready to play, right out of the box… And you can upgrade it to GarlicOS to make it more awesome. Even if I get tired of it and toss it in a drawer in six months, that’s not too bad.
But wait, there’s one more thing. A resource for thousands of games (for free) and the ability to make your own games! I’ll cover that in the next post!