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GCW Zero handheld plays all your favorite classic games


January 11, 2013

Duke Nukem 3D played on the GCW Zero

Duke Nukem 3D played on the GCW Zero

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There's an avalanche of new gaming devices coming our way, from tablets with controller attachments to Android-based consoles that can fit in the palm of your hand. On top of that, there's a growing class of devices best described as portable emulators, built to capitalize on older gamers' nostalgia, with the latest called the Game Consoles Worldwide (GCW) Zero.

The GCW Zero's creator, Justin Barwick, worked as a retailer for a similar device called the Dingoo and he has been listening to the community's feedback. Purists have noted that the Dingoo's Android-based emulation is marred by sound synchronization issues, causing music and sound effects to sometimes lag behind the action. Another problem is that you won't find true analog control on most Android devices. That simply won't do, so the GCW Zero has opted for Linux as its base operating system – capable of running huge libraries of emulated software without any hitches.

Control options seem pretty good, with a standard D-pad and analog nub and four face buttons, as well as two shoulder buttons (an accelerometer and vibration motors provide tilt sensing and feedback). The device sports a 3.5-inch LCD screen (320 x 240 pixels), contains a 1 GHz CPU and a GPU capable of OpenGL ES 2.0, with 256 MB DDR2 RAM. It comes with 8 GB internal storage, and can take 32 GB and 64 GB micro SD cards for external storage. WiFi, Mini USB 2.0, HDMI 1.3, and A/V outs allow you to connect the device to your PC and television.

The GCW Zero's accelerometer allows you to control games, like Descent, by tilting the device

The company has already moved beyond the prototyping phase and is selling units in white and black, but is hoping its Kickstarter campaign will allow it to produce a much larger batch. Legality aside, you'll be able to play thousands of games from all the classic consoles on the GCW Zero for US$135, making it a pretty attractive option if you're in the market for such a device. To put things into perspective, the NEO GEO X is around the same price (without the optional arcade joystick), but it's locked down to play just a handful of NEO GEO games.

You can see the GCW Zero playing some old freeware games in the following video.

Source: GCW Zero via Kickstarter

About the Author
Jason Falconer Jason is a freelance writer based in central Canada with a background in computer graphics. He has written about hundreds of humanoid robots on his website Plastic Pals and is an avid gamer with an unsightly collection of retro consoles, cartridges, and controllers. All articles by Jason Falconer

Dingoo was Linux also, not Android. It was a little slow and shoddily made though. Android in maturing and I think Google has to address it's problems that app developers that write emulators complain about eventually. Till then you will have to go through the trouble of jail-breaking an iPhone or carry one of these devices around along with your smartphone to get good emulation.

I do like devices like this, it is always exciting when the devices is new. Problem is I have many devices now that can do what this one does. I'm waiting for a device that can emulate the Dreamcast/PS2/gamecube/xbox level of systems, everything before them is emulated pretty well but I'm guessing emulation machines wont get to that point for a few years yet.


The Neo Geo X is an overpriced piece of junk that has been found to be running the old, crappy emulator from the Dingoo. The Zero plays Neo Geo games better than the damn Neo Geo X does!

"Problem is I have many devices now that can do what this one does"

Which devices (assuming you mean portable ones)? The Android ones tend to be poorly made with shitty battery life and sound lag, and the PSP/Dingoo are too slow. Personally I can't stand using touch screens for this kind of thing (so phones are out) but if you don't mind that (or don't mind carrying around a bluetooth controller) I guess there's always that option.

Jerram Fahey

The portable that I use the most next to my phone is my Pandora. I was a day one orderie and ever since I got it I loved it. I can play pretty much everything below the Dreamcast/PS2/Gamecube/xbox level on it so I don't really need anything else. Besides, my Pandora was made in the US, now they're made in Germany(and have a 1GHz chip in them now). I can OC my current Pandora to around 900MHz so I'm just saying until a handheld comes out that can play at the Dreamcast/PS2/Gamecube/xbox level I'm not upgrading.

If I didn't have a Pandora I would buy one of these. Price wise this is a steal compared to the Pandora, but I own a Pandora so, like I said, until I can play some PS2 games I'm not buying a new device for emulation. If some good GCW Zero exclusives come out I might buy one though. . .


There only one about the device that i dont like is the Menu ... It is kinda ugly and doesnt fit with that lovable design ... And i think they should add a touchscreen

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