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Sunday 11 May 2003

Gp32 portable emu heaven [pod]

Like just about everyone I have a gba. Its pretty leet. Some decent games (adv wars, mario, zelda, metroid) and I can dev for it with the flash rom I own. (see the i8 pictures under social for an example :)
Its been heavily described as a snes in you hand and by all accounts and it might as well be since every dev under the sun is re-releasing snes games onto it. Zelda being the most recent case.
This is both good and bad. Bad because I've played all these games before but good since most of them rock. I feel the good outweighs the bad. So with this in mind I was always going to notice the gp32 since the community for it has written a snes emu for it. Why have a snes-alike in your hand when you can actually have a snes in your hand :)
So this week I finally decided to get one. Cost me 175 for the unit and a 128meg smart card. The card is the same one that is used in samsung digital cameras and other devices so can be re-used if you have those items. First impressions of the unit are a mixed bag. The case is practically identical to a gba. 4 button setup and a 3.5 inch screen. Even the Gamepark logo is a blatent rip of the nintendo one. It also feels quite lightweight but imo these issues matter not.
The system specs are quite interesting too. Stereo sound, 320*240 resolution, headphone jack(take that gba sp), 8meg ram and a 32 bit arm9 processor. Whats special about the processor is that they haven't locked the speed. So while it defaults to about 15(i think)mhz thats not where it stays(The gba runs around 12 I think). It can be clocked as high as you want but its true limit is 132mhz. This may suck your batteries that bit more (about 30% more) but it opens the machine to many more apps. The snes emu being one of them.
Snes not your bag? Well how about one of the following? Nes, SMS, GB (black and white), pc engine, c64 (portable paradroid anyone?), c16+4, some early arcade games and ATARI ST. Its this last one that persuaded me to get the unit. Its still early days but it already runs games full speed with sound. Compatability with games is a little patchy but I can play Kick off2 and dungeon master perfectly, which is very impressive. When you remember that the ST had versions of sensi soccer, championship manager and mega-lo-mania the emu updates can't come fast enough.
Getting these programs onto the gp32 couldn't be easier either. The machine comes with a usb cable in the box! Simply plug it in. Register on the gp32 site and download all the linker software. Fire it up and its like writing to a hard drive. The link can transfer 1meg in about 3 seconds.
Console emus not your thing? Well how about doom1+2, wolf3d and heretic? With the faster processor and bigger screen it craps all over the wanky gba doom port they did. Whats more the demo (the first 8 levels) is free! If you have the wad's from the pc version then the whole game is free :) Also there is a scumm port. Scumm is the engine that lucasarts used for maniac mansion all the way upto games like the dig.
All in all I'm very impressed with my gp32. The only real problem is that fact that its not a gba. There aren't countless millions of them out there and so it will probably go the way of the lynx/game gear. There are very few commercial games out there for it but tbh who cares. As long as the emu community keep working on it is fine by me.
One final thing. This is in dev atm and they seem to be confident of getting it near full speed. /me crosses fingers woot


  1. I so need one of these. :)So what's the story, I see there's a regular one and one with a 'front light'? There's even a little RF widget that plugs into it for multiplayer games, heh!

  2. There are two versions. I went for the standard version. Its not as bad as the gba but you do struggle to see it at times in bad light. The front light version is about 40 quid more.The rf widget for multiplayer games is good in theory but you're never going to find someone else who has one. Most of the emus dont support it (the nes one does).If your thinking of getting one then check out some of the following links. There is a gp32 emu for the pc so you can try out the emus available for it and see what you think. For example the snes emu only runs at 50% speed atm.gp32emugp32x

  3. Yeah, I'd be far more inclined to actually buy one when a few of my 'must have' retro games were running flawlessly on it.

  4. Well I'll try to keep this blog updated as things improve. Yesterday I played to the end of the first season of speedball 2 ;)