Firecore consoles are here for good in order revive memories and be a constant source of ear-rape. I wanted to have one, just for the lulz of it. My brother, who shares my love with retro stuff and curiosity for managed to get me one for my nameday. Here’s another of the bazillion reviews floating around the internet for the Blaze Megadrive Portable console.
The console itself is quite small. Smaller that I expected actually. The plastic feels sturdy but cheap. I don’t know how that’s even possible, but what I know is that it doesn’t creek under the pressure of my hads. But somehow manages to feel cheap. Weird.
The device comes loaded with 18 games. here’s the list of the games right from the device’s menu screens.
It sports a nice anthology of Megadrive Gems. Only one Sonic though. And no Ecco or Vectorman or… well whatever.
Let’s get into categories and see how this little cheapo gadget fares.
As I have already commented above, the device is sturdy but it feels cheap on touch. It doesn’t creek nor it feels filmsy. It fits good in hands of different sizes (mine are quite big) and the buttons are nicely placed and easy to reach. The buttons feel good, a bit soft for my tastes, and the B button is slightly less accented by the other two. Making it somewhat the “favorite” button on games like Sonic. But all in all they do the trick.
The D-pad also does the trick, being 8-directional and overall responsive. It is a little swampy, just like the other buttons, but after playing a while, I got used to it.
At the top of the device the on/off swich, volume whell and AV output can be found. The cables for hooking it on your TV is included in the package. I’ll get to that detail later.
At the bottom of the device, there’s the hedphone jack. Not that anybody would want to hear the horrendous noises this machine produces. Another thing to be analyzed later. And that’s pretty much it. No SD slots, sadly.
As an added bonus, there’s a little loop where a charm can be hooked or a keyring. Not that I recommend to pair this thing with your keys. It would end up being severely scratched in no time.
The screen is nowhere near beautiful. The pixels are too far apart, making things look blocky. Some nostalgia-guys might say that it adds to the nostalgia effect of the device because it looks like the first color-screen consoles like the GameGear or the Lynx. I won’t disagree with that, but some games really suffer from the low pixel density and resolution of the screen.
The text in Alex Kidd is just an example. Take a look at Crackdown
Hmm. Nearly unplayable.
To the screen’s credit, the colors are quite bright and vibrant while the response time is reasonable. There’s no “motion blurring” or, at least, none that will affect the gameplay.
I would just call this screen “servicable”. Just that.
Emulation and software
Well, I commented the game collection above. It’s quite of a Gemfest, depending on your tastes. Of course there are some less-favorites but that’s also on your tastes.
On the visual part of the emulation of the games, the Firecore does a great job. There are no significant bugs on the graphics and the framerate is generally smooth, except the times where the screen gets really cluttered by sprites. For example, when an enemy kicks the rings out of Sonic, there is a slight lag.
The audio part of the emulation is by far the worse aspect of the console. It takes the lovely music of certain games and turns it into miserable blips and blops. Keep the volume down at all times if you don’t want to turn insane. Bad sound emulation is bad.
The device runs on three AAA batteries that may last about 5 hours or more. It’s generally adviced to carry an extra triplet of batteries with you if you go on a long train ride or an intercontinental flight.
So let’s conclide this review on what this device is good for and what not.
This device is good for:
Kids. yeah, those little bastards who know nothing about gaming of the past. You buy them one of those and tell them to leave their 3DS at home. No problem if it gets stolen. It’s just a cheap console.
Retro lovers. Such as myself. I want to play something on the metro or during downtime at work and don’t want to carry items from their own collection. No collector wants his possesions to be damaged by everyday usage or stolen.
People who just want simple fun on the go: No carts, no SD’s no nothing. Just pop it out of your bag and play.
This device is NOT for:
The ones who seek quality emulation. The emulation looks OK but the sound is beyond awful. A few slowdowns may be a turnoff too.
People who want more than 18 games: Why don’t you go and buy a GP2X already?
People who want a big, bright and sleek screen: While the screen is servicable without ghosting and descent color, the low resolution and poor pixel density makes it feel blocky and some graphics just look corrupted.
Will it fit in your pocket?
For a few LULZ and light gaming on the go, this cheap-o-matic is way better that the shit usually found in bazaars and chinese shops. AtGames is producing more of those devices including a Sonic-head shaped Wii knocoff, a Master System Blaze and a Mega Drive Blaze with SD slot. You can go over their site and decide the way you want your ears raped by awesome gaming.