Anbernic Game Boy Advance SP clone does more than just copy an old design

Retro gaming consoles and computers are still going strong, with many designs still left to be revived, resized, and retrofitted for modern times. Most of these products try to recreate the experience of those original machines, at least with the games they used to run on very limited hardware. That said, you can only go so far trying to recreate the past. Sooner or later, you will hit a wall, as demonstrated by the limited number of titles supported by many of these retro consoles. This reinterpretation of a Game Boy classic design, however, isn’t exactly a simple copy of the clamshell handheld. Instead, it takes the same spirit of portable adventure that the Game Boy Advance SP embodied and wraps it in a body that’s well-suited for modern gaming styles.

Designer: Anbernic

It’s honestly a bit of a gray legal area whenever third-party brands try to embrace a design so close to something from the annals of video gaming history. That hasn’t stopped the likes of Anbernic from taking obvious inspiration from those bygone designs but with enough modifications to skirt infringement accusations. Of course, Anbernic has its own original designs, but the ones that really grab your attention are those that pay homage to icons like the Nintendo Game Boy.

With the uninspiring name of Anbernic RG35XXSP, the prolific gaming handheld manufacturer is bringing the Game Boy Advance SP back to life, or at least the pocket-sized clamshell design that made it quite a hit. It’s just as blocky and thick as the original, but that’s also part of the device’s charm. For better or worse, however, that’s where the similarities end to the point that you can even say that the RG35XXSP was simply “inspired” by Nintendo’s handheld.

Deep inside, it uses the same guts as all the other iterations of the RG35XX, which means that it’s practically a mini computer that runs the Linux operating system. Specifically, it uses an emulation platform that can support a whole plethora of games from the likes of the Nintendo 64, PlayStation 1, PlayStation Portable, or even MS-DOS. And, yes, it can probably run Game Boy games as well, though you’re left to your own devices on how to make all these work.

What’s more important, however, is that the RG35XXSP doesn’t use the limited controls of the Game Boy Advance SP. Instead, it has enough buttons to support all those gaming platforms, though don’t expect any analog joystick here. The pocketable gaming handheld is also described to be equipped with modern technologies, like Wi-Fi and 5G for local multiplayer gaming, HDMI for TV output, and support for Bluetooth peripherals like controllers, keyboards, and mice. Shown off in four designs that give tribute to those consoles and handhelds of the past, launch details for the Anbernic RG35XXSP are unfortunately still unavailable at this moment.