I was hugely lucky as a kid, that my father loved video games as much as I eventually would. It meant that not only did we have an Atari 2600 in the 80s, but I became the very proud owner of a Galaxy Invader 1000 one Christmas.
I loved that handheld, even though it featured one, fairly basic game. And while that soon gave way to the Game Boy and a litany of other portable playthings that have featured ever-more complex games, I still think of it often as one of the best presents I've ever received. I played it to death.
Now there's a new handheld that evokes similar feelings, something I believe is today's equivalent of Galaxy Invader 1000 and could make someone equally happy this holiday season – the HyperMegaTech Super Pocket.
It is different in that it comes pre-installed with a collection of some of the best retro games and gives you access to many more through collectable cartridges, but it sparks the same, child-like joy I felt all those years ago. And it doesn't cost the Earth, neither.
Devised by Blaze – the company behind the equally cool Evercade EXP – the Super Pocket comes in two flavours. You can get one pre-loaded with 12 Capcom coin-op classics, including Street Fighter II: Hyper Fighting and Ghouls 'n Ghosts, and another branded by Taito which contains 18 arcade hits, such as Space Invaders and Bubble Bobble.
In all honesty, it's hard to choose between them, such is the quality of their included catalogues, but then you can also expand their libraries thanks to a cartridge slot on the rear. This takes the same, existing carts sold for the Evercade, so there are already plenty to choose from to elevate your experience no matter which version.
Both are essentially the same in operation, too. They each have a 2.8-inch IPS display with a pixel resolution of 320 x 240, plus a solid D-Pad and four action buttons. There are also four rear buttons, for games that require them, and a 3.5mm headphone jack.
USB-C is used for charging, with a quoted 4 hours of battery life available between charges. But, to be honest, you might even manage to eke a little more out of it, as I found out myself.
The screen is pretty bright, although it might be hard to see that clearly in bright sunlight as the plastic cover is fairly reflective. It should also be pointed out that those who are short-sighted (as myself) might struggle to see some of the gameplay on vertically-scrolling games, like 1942, as they are centred with big black bars either side and are therefore tiny.
It's a small caveat though, and most games look great and fill the 4:3 display. They sound really good too through the built-in speaker, which can get loud even though it's mono.
Perhaps the most tangible throwback to the handheld games of yore is the build quality. It feels unashamedly plastic and more like a toy than a console – but that's exactly what I want. It's how I remember devices being in the 80s and the excitement I felt on holding one for the first time back then, is the same as I hold a Super Pocket now.
And what price does HyperMegaTech put on such fond memories? £49, that's all! Or $59 / €59 in the US and Europe. It's perfect for what you get and with Evercade carts available from around £17 each, future enhancement isn't expensive.
It all adds up to a device I'm seriously considering buying family members for Christmas myself. Certainly my dad, who started the whole gaming ball rolling in the first place.
He'd appreciate the trip down memory lane and the irony, I'm sure.