Console Review: Blaze Gear Retro Handheld

Kicking it, ‘old-skool’

Have a hankering for some old-school gaming? Maybe the Blaze Gear handheld console will satisfy those nostalgic urges.

I recently ordered a Blaze Gear from Amazon UK, mainly on impulse; it was 3am, I was bored, what more can I say?

The Blaze Gear offers up 30 licensed classics from Sega, all from the days of the Sega Master System. Oh the joys! If you’re as old as I am you may remember actually owning a Sega Master System, so you’ll love the selection of in-built games.

The console arrived and I greedily opened my package, only to find that the console takes AAA batteries. As I live in the year 2014, I don’t have many appliances that require such antiquities, so I had to nip out to the local supermarket to hunt down some Duracell.

Finally, after an hour round trip, I was finally ready to get my retro on! I know what you’re thinking, why bother with this when you can just download them to an emulator on your phone or laptop? Simple – I just love consoles that have buttons.

First thing I noticed when booting up the Blaze Gear (it really does sound like it was named by an alleyway junkie) is that the screen is surprisingly good quality, considering I’d paid less than £30 for the console.

The console build is pretty sturdy too, after around 10 hours of use I’d dropped it a handful of times, but the robust structure held up, much more than my late Nintendo 3DS, rest in pieces, buddy.

The sound quality does leave something to be desired, but I think that’s just because I’m used to all the latest audio technology available today. It’s not terrible, but it’s definitely not the best sound you’ll hear on a handheld console. That being said, it’s perfectly serviceable and is actually quite representative of how the games used to sound back in the days before Dolby Digital and surround sound. So if it’s authenticity you’re looking for, there’s a fine dusting here.

So, how do the games play? Swimmingly! The physical buttons give a satisfying click as you press them, something you just can’t emulate on any iPhone or Android device. Playing through Sonic, Golden Axe and Ecco The Dolphin was exhaustive fun, but my rather big hands didn’t get the same kind of cramps that occur after more than 30 minutes of playing a PS Vita or Nintendo 3DS.

The 30 games that are built-in to the system all look pretty nice on the Blaze Gear screen, provided you’re used to the retro-era graphics. The screen is of high quality build, though it’s not a touch screen of course, but it gets the job done and doesn’t seem to be gaining any new scratches, despite being handled rather heavily for long periods.

The Blaze Gear system might not appeal to your modern gamer, but those looking for an inexpensive gift for a younger family member, or just a little treat for yourself will find plenty of enjoyment. It’s certainly not going to be out-classing the PS Vita or Nintendo 3DS, but that’s not what it’s about. It’s a machine built purely for those looking for a bit of retro gaming, and for less than £30 it does a bloody fine job.

The Blaze Gear system is available from Amazon UK, with free shipping included. Bargain!

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