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I’ve been playing video games since my parents bought their children a Nintendo Entertainment System in the mid-1980s. I’ve since owned a number of Nintendo and Sony consoles and handhelds (sorry, Xbox people) and I’ve even played my share of PC games. That experience — combined with a fair amount of video game journalism — has helped me get some perspective on what is and is not a quality gaming experience. Those experiences rarely serve much value writing for an Aldi blog.
Lo and behold, Aldi is dropping some video game portables into its aisles just in time for the holidays.
What We Know:
The My Arcade Handheld systems (Product Code: 704192) are Aldi Finds, which means you can find them in stores only for a limited time. My Arcade products are not Aldi exclusives; both of the products being sold at Aldi can be found at other retailers, including Amazon and Walmart.
My Arcade is a company that makes a range of portable gaming devices, ranging from little systems that play classics to systems that will play old cartridges. They also sell a few handhelds that boast having hundreds of games built-in … and that’s what Aldi is selling.
The two systems have some things in common and some differences. Both …
- Are small and generally portable
- Use 8-bit graphics (think original Nintendo)
- Have a cross-style control pad as well as A and B buttons (there are no shoulder buttons)
- Have backlit color displays
- Use 3 AAA batteries (not included)
The differences are in size and the number of games they have: the Gamer V Portable has a 2.4-inch screen and comes with 220 games, while the Gamer Mini has a 1.8-inch screen and comes with 160 games as well as a wrist strap. On paper, that would make the Gamer V Portable the better value unless you want something truly tiny.
So what kinds of games are we talking about? The answer is: nothing you’ve ever heard of. You won’t see a Mario, or Sonic, or any other recognizable character. Instead, these systems contain a bunch of generic games that kind of mimic old games you might have seen before. There are platformers, for example, that mimic a Mario game, as well as air shooters, mini-sports games, puzzlers, and action games.
There are plenty of reviews of both the Portable and the Mini online, and they’re okay, averaging 3.6-3.7 out of 5 stars on Amazon. Some reviewers admit that the games are generic and sometimes very similar to each other, but others them said they enjoyed the games as a decent time killer for short periods. Most of the negative reviews I saw were people complaining about the system breaking or going through batteries too quickly.
This is one of those things where you get what you pay for. This is no Nintendo Switch or big-ticket console — this is a budget gadget.
What We Don’t Know:
I haven’t used one of these myself, although plenty of people online have, and I expect the Aldi version to be pretty much what you see from other outlets.
Do you have experience with these? Let us know in the comments.