We take a look at the My Arcade Pixel Player, which after a previous release in the US is now also available for UK and EU-based consumers (see, we’re pretending Brexit happened smoothly here). We take a look at what could be a great father’s day gift for videogame-minded dads.
For those who enjoy retro gaming and retro videogaming collectibles, the My Arcade name is nothing new. We previously reviewed their Micro Players, which are essentially (fully working) arcade cabinets shrunk down to fit into the palm of your hand. Their Pixel Player is a bit different – they don’t focus on a single game, and the look and feel is a lot more generic. Unlike the mini arcade cabinets, these units aren’t meant to (also) serve as a display case item. The Pixel Player is meant as a portable gaming system, and looks like a Gameboy Advance in terms of design. There’s a different version available that looks more like the original Nintendo Gameboy as well, but we think the “Advance” version is a bit more ergonomically pleasing.
All the games in the My Arcade Pixel Player are built in, so there’s no swapping cartridges or adding new games through an online service – but on the plus side, there are over 300 games included and the unit’s being sold at a very budget-friendly price point too.
Obviously, not all 300+ games are gems, but there’s a great selection of Data East titles included as well – eight pixel perfect arcade/NES titles from the classic era of videogames. Leading the pack in that respect is BurgerTime, arguably Data East’s most iconic title. Other well-known titles include Bad Dudes (of Bad Dudes vs Dragon Ninja fame), Caveman Ninja (also known as Joe and Mac) and Karate Champ. You also get Breakthru, Heavy Barrel and B-Wings for more classic arcade action, as well as the pool simulation Side Pocket.
If you have fond memories of any (or more) of those Data East titles, then they alone make the Pixel Player worthy of the price of admission – but it’s a shame that pretty much none of the other 300 titles come close. They’re mostly a collection of low budget remakes and unofficial ports of familiar titles – my favorite of which was a clone of Lode Runner. The most nostalgic part of this part of the collection is how it reminded me of those “100 in 1” NES cartridges that would sometimes pop up at someone’s house. Some of the games I tried were barely able to hold my attention for more than a minute (literally, 60 seconds), so don’t expect “Capcom’s Greatest Hits” here.
Hardware-wise, the My Arcade Pixel Player reflects its budget price points – its plastic case and buttons feel on the cheap side, but they’re perfectly functional. I was impressed with the color and clarity of the display, through the surface feels a little plexiglas-like compared to the likes of the Vita. Then again, you won’t find one at the price point of a Pixel Player. The handheld comes with an audio jack for headphones (or speakers), though the system also has built-in speakers that work fine and are able to put out audio at a relatively high volume level (which the system seems to reset to every time you turn it on).
The system works with a set of four AAA batteries, though you can also operate it with a single micro usb cable – which makes it great for use while in a car without having to spare batteries. With such a large collection of games, even if many of them aren’t so great, it’s a great way to waste time on a long trip. Spending just a minute per game, you’d already be over five hours in! More realistically speaking though, you’re likely to end up playing one or more of those Data East titles more than anything else – and that is perfectly fine when you consider the Pixel Player’s price point. It’s no (3)DS, Vita or Switch, but it’s a fine little budget handheld with a unique and quirky collection of games with a selection of Data East classics to make it all worth it in the long run.