It took me about a month to get hold of my Miyoo Mini, another Linux/Android-based retro gaming handheld hailing from China. During that time I sat and watched dozens of videos on the direct competitors, wound up ordering the Retroid Pocket 2+ and grew a disdain for a majority of the machines either already on storefronts or being released onto storefronts.
Ugly machines made with no real concept of practicality, but rectangles with muddy screens and an assortment of buttons. There’s no focus in these single-board computer based handhelds, with Jeff Goldblum’s Jurassic Park quote of “Your scientists were so preoccupied with whether they could, they didn’t stop to think if they should.”
These mostly budget handheld devices are never really going to hit the prime time of PS2 or Gamecube emulation at a near-perfect level because the hardware inside is mostly cheap, older models. The only way this is going to happen is if you look towards things like mini-PCs or those Steam Deck competitors now leaking out of the woodwork.
Plus, to be honest, as someone who dabbles quite a bit with emulation, I don’t particularly want or need these consoles on a handheld device. I want them on my 4K monitor or TV, upscaling the games of yesterday to how my brain pictures them. That or just play the frequent remasters that arrive on a very near-daily basis.
So why is it then, if you’ve scrolled down and backed up to this text, is the Miyoo Mini so high in my esteem? It feels focused.
To the point
As soon as you boot up the Miyoo Mini, you’re greeted by a menu selection screen and both emulation options. RetroArch or the ones that came built-in with the console, with varying differences between performances on both, as is the way with most emulation devices.
You can get into a game within thirty seconds of booting and just being able to have a selection of emulators that all play stupendously with no real issues outside of some minor compatibility with harder to run games, the Miyoo Mini is just a joy to actually play games on. A lot of these consoles all try to do too much, rather than stripping things back and focusing on what they’re good at. I don’t need Wind Waker or Final Fantasy X on the go when I have a device that lets me perfectly and cleanly explore the Wonder Swan, Neo Geo Pocket and revisit Gameboy Advance games that I hold dear or never even got around to.
It’s clean, simple and snappy, with no faff other than maybe a recommendation of replacing the microSD card with something faster or more reliable. The Mini doesn’t have any internet connectivity, forcing you to download any ROMs or updates via a PC, but the one I got came with a dubious SD card filled with them.
Immediately as you look at the console too, the physical design of it shows this focus of being a go-to for a particular batch of consoles. With no stick or nub, it culls anything past the PS1 for home consoles, while the handheld space is all there up until the GBA. The directional pad is fine if a little spongey and the face buttons all have a satisfying press to them.
The weirder, but by no means bad addition is the four shoulder buttons on the back. These might not see much use outside of certain consoles, but they feel great to use when they do come into the fray.
It is a pleasure to play on and that mainly comes down to the screen itself.
The Miyoo Mini has this rich LCD display that is bright enough at all settings, while also being just the right aspect ratio for everything it supports. The 4:3 screen with minimal bezels ups the overall quality feel of the device entirely. It also helps that the retro grey look and plastic housing feels premium too.
The speakers are poor, but also, a majority of the games this thing supports aren’t often the best sounding either. I don’t think anyone will miss the elegant sounds of the Wonder Swan coming through tinny speakers.
While there are no replacements available just yet, the battery is removable, but has zero support for a modern fast charge through the USB-C (which also doesn’t support data transfers), forcing you to wait a considerable amount of time for the meagre 1900mha battery to fill up for a few hours of straight gaming.
I love this thing
I love this little thing, even with the few negatives, it is a great device that comes in at an even greater price. For just $60, the Miyoo Mini has blown all expectations out of the water with its premium quality build, fantastic support and built-in RetroArch options.
Most of all though, it is the focus of the device that I love. There’s no trying to do more than the hardware will allow, the overall locked down feeling of once things are in place allows me to also focus on the things that I want to do. With no way to really go above the PS1 due to controller and physical limits, I have this cracking device that will probably be in my daily bag for as long as it holds out.