Ayn’s Odin is the retro gaming handheld to beat

Written by Jeff Lampkin

There are numerous, some ways to play retro video games as we speak. Loads of these choices are handhelds. However you may be shocked at what number of of those gadgets really feel jury rigged, low-cost or usually each. Worse, there’s a mishmash of open-source emulators working on a wide range of working techniques to take care of, and the entire {hardware} is completely different — briefly, emulation is a little bit of a wild west generally.

What’s extra, even the higher handhelds often solely emulate as much as across the PS1/N64 period. In case you’re a fan of the GameCube or PS2 libraries, for instance, the venn diagram of handhelds highly effective sufficient which can be properly made and fairly priced is successfully three separate circles. Possibly not for for much longer because of the Odin by Ayn.

Yep, I hadn’t heard of ‘em both, however within the retro gaming scene that’s not unusual. The Odin was launched on Indiegogo and immediately drew a variety of consideration. The premise is easy, to convey the aforementioned venn diagram collectively and make a extra cohesive retro (and even fashionable recreation) handheld.

The Odin will get off to a superb begin by successfully mimicking the Swap Lite type issue. Although the Odin’s display screen is a shade bigger (5.9 inches in comparison with Nintendo’s 5.5) and, at FHD, greater decision. Anecdotally, most individuals who’ve held each discover the Odin extra comfy and even favor the latter’s analog sticks and D-pad which isn’t dangerous for a corporation new to the area.

Close up of the left-hand side of the Odin retro gaming handheld.

James Trew / Engadget

I’m personally a fan of how all of the controls are laid out. The analogue sticks are far sufficient away to not intrude with the buttons/D-pad however shut sufficient to permit for fast, comfy switching between them. I additionally like that the sticks are a bit of shallower than on different controllers which suggests you don’t must push as far to get the motion you want.

There are three completely different fashions of Odin obtainable: Professional, Base and Lite. The Professional is the one now we have been utilizing and is, because the identify suggests, the upper specification model. We’re not speaking bleeding edge internals right here, however with a Snapdragon 845 and an Adreno 635 doing the processing and graphics we’re one thing just like a high-end smartphone from a few years in the past. Keep in mind that the Swap utilizing an older chipset: It’s, because the saying goes, what you do with it that counts, proper?

The variations between every mannequin embody battery dimension, SoC, storage, RAM and, after all, worth. Right here’s a cheat sheet for these :

It’s value noting that in case you’re solely fearful in regards to the storage, all Odin’s include a microSD card slot so you’ll be able to broaden the obtainable reminiscence that method in case you favor. As for battery capability, the 6,000 mAh mannequin I examined was good for round six hours of play on techniques just like the PS2/GameCube and, given everybody appears to check this recreation, about half that point with one thing like Genshin Influence.

This places the Odin in an attention-grabbing spot. You’ll be able to definitely decide up an excellent retro handheld/emulator for around $100, however doubtless it gained’t be capable of play practically as many video games from as many platforms. Alternatively, you could possibly spend over $1,000 on one thing just like the Aya Neo which doubtless trounces the Odin however then can be 4 occasions the fee. Then there’s the Steam Deck which is an entire different beast, however a viable various if you wish to play non-retro video games additionally. It’s additionally a shade pricier than the Odin, beginning at $400, however clearly not a direct competitor. All to say, the hand-held market is form of far and wide.

The Odin runs on Android. If that induces an inside groan, we get it. Android and gaming have a sophisticated historical past. However arguably Android makes probably the most sense for a tool just like the Odin. Not least as a result of the {hardware} is similar to that in a excessive finish telephone, however Android can be properly catered for within the retro world, with a lot of the emulators having mature ports. Oh, and Android does have good video games of its personal, so you’ll be able to play these natively too.

As a lot because the Odin is aiming to really feel like an entire console moderately than a single-board PC in a field working apps, there’s a little bit of an issue. It’s nearly not possible to do it another method with out going full remake a-la Analogue. That mentioned, establishing the Odin was about as painless as this course of will get. Choose the emulators you need, set up them, load up on video games and also you’re roughly good to go. Usually the bodily controls are both already mapped or simply take a minute to take action.

The new retro handheld from Ayn, called the Odin, is pictured with a close up of the main buttons and analog stick.

James Trew / Engadget

Ayn did give the Odin its personal launcher which sorta-kinda makes it really feel extra “consoley” and fewer like an Android pill, however truthfully the model it ships with is clear sufficient which you could simply stick to that. Fortunately there’s nearly no additional app cruft on the Odin out of the field and, regardless of being Android 10, there’s help for Undertaking Treble which ought to assist hold it feeling present for longer.

In case your curiosity is generally across the NES/SNES or Sega equivalents, you’ll be able to merely set up RetroArch and sit back. There’s nothing uncommon right here for these most favored or classical consoles so I’ll deal with the extra superior techniques.

For a lot of it’s the promise of moveable PlayStation 2 and GameCube emulation that will probably be a lure right here. The PS2 is notoriously difficult because of the console’s customized processor. However the emulation group is industrious if nothing else and there are some fairly good choices now. I examined out a few of my favorites from my bodily assortment, however clearly needed to begin with Rez, simply to see the way it appeared on that show.

Certain sufficient, it appeared fairly fab. My left thumb is method much less nimble than it was 20 years in the past however the Odin barely flinched at serving up the sport. I’ll have heard just a few minor, nearly imperceptible glitches within the audio, however they had been rare and probably one thing that could possibly be remedied within the emulator settings moderately than the {hardware}.

This expertise was just about the identical with another title I attempted. I hung out taking Raiden out for a crawl within the rain in Steel Gear Stable 2. Whereas over in GTA: San Andreas, CJ’s hopes of going straight had been simply as futile (full with barely wonky physics) as I remembered. Closing Fantasy XII’s dramatic opening sequence ran as clean because it ever did and Reks’ courageous naivety was nearly glitchless bar some gentle cracking on audio right here and there.

A close up of the shoulder buttons on the Odin retro gaming handheld.

James Trew / Engadget

With the GameCube you may moderately count on a bit of extra success provided that traditionally it’s been simpler to emulate. That does broadly appear to pan out. It would take a bit of fiddling round to get issues optimized, however F-Zero GX can run at full pace and there are only some video games which can be extra efficiency hungry than that. You may as well get some good outcomes for Wii emulation right here too however that can rely on a title’s use of Wiimotes amongst different issues.

After all, every little thing at this degree continues to be some form of crapshoot. Who is aware of how the sport was programmed or the way it used the {hardware} it was constructed for. There are already a number of movies on YouTube that dutifully undergo a bunch of titles for all of the techniques to indicate how they run. There’s additionally a thriving subreddit that has spreadsheets devoted to itemizing which video games are (or aren’t) appropriate and the way properly they carry out on the Odin.

There are two areas the place you don’t want to fret about compatibility: Android gaming and streaming companies like Stadia and Sport Go. There’s not lots to say right here actually aside from the Odin was born to do it, as long as your web can sustain. (WiFi efficiency is similar to my telephone, for what it’s value.)

Some courageous of us on the market have even tried working 3DS and even Swap video games all with various levels of success. Finally what you’re shopping for with the Odin is a bespoke gaming handheld that merely has the potential to run these apps, there’s no actual promise of efficiency (or actually management thereof). 

The new Odin retro gaming handheld is shown running Launchbox software.

James Trew / Engadget

Nevertheless it does appear to have been significantly properly designed. The energetic cooling appears to be a little bit of a secret sauce, ensuring you not solely get probably the most out of the processor however for prolonged durations with none concern of harm. Some may surprise, why not merely get an previous handset with comparable specification and slap it in one thing like Razer’s Kishi. You undoubtedly may do this, however the Odin’s cooling isn’t the one perk, its display screen is greater and 16:9 moderately than superwide like a telephone. Plus… it’s about not feeling like you may have a telephone in a clamp, that’s kinda the purpose.

It’s not a headline characteristic, however Ayn did see match to supply two methods of enjoying the Odin on a TV/show. There’s a micro HDMI port on the highest which might be the only technique to get your recreation on an even bigger display screen. I’ll say although that I didn’t have a good time with it as neither of my TVs have an important gaming mode, so latency was a difficulty. There’s additionally DisplayPort connectivity through the USB-C connection.

In case you actually wish to consolize the Odin, you are able to do so through a $50 “Tremendous Dock” accent. With this, you’ll be able to slide the Odin into the mount very similar to a Swap and decide up the place you left off on the larger display screen. Together with USB, there are additionally devoted ports for each GameCube and N64 controllers ought to you may have any of these mendacity round. It additionally provides within the possibility for ethernet and USB-C/SATA for issues like SSDs (extra fashionable video games take up much more area in any case).

After all, given it’s working Android, you are able to do something with the Odin that you are able to do with a telephone or pill. Which means video streaming or music listening and even productiveness. Although, logic may recommend that working issues within the background or, heaven forbid, permitting notifications is barely going to do dangerous issues to your gaming expertise. However you could possibly.

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About the author

Jeff Lampkin

Jeff Lampkin was the first writer to have joined He has since then inculcated very effective writing and reviewing culture at GamePolar which rivals have found impossible to imitate. His approach has been to work on the basics while the whole world was focusing on the superstructures.