Review: BittBoy houses an ineffective emulation suite inside a nostalgic Game Boy shell

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My first console was the GameBoy. It wasn’t the first console that I ever played, but it was the first console that I owned for myself. Some of my favorite gaming memories are because of this grey plastic brick. Yes, 500 hours of Pokemon Red (not Yellow) is a fantastic memory—I had many, many Missingnos.

The New BittBoy is an indie reinterpretation of Nintendo’s original GameBoy. It’s designed on the original grey model, complete with purple buttons and a sliding switch on the top of the system. It’s incredibly nostalgic, but also remarkably small. While it doesn’t take much these days to emulate a Game Boy, the winsome miniaturize shell that houses the BittBoy’s internals is immediately memorable.

That doesn’t mean that this adorable machine is simply designed to play your legally backed up Game Boy games, far from it. While you can certainly use the device purely as a miniature Game Boy, the BittBoy also has the ability to emulate NES games. It may not be the most traditional way of playing NES games, but it is rather cool.

That doesn’t mean that playing games through the built-in MIYOO emulators is anything close to cool. While NES games run at full speed with minor graphical issues, many Game Boy games hideously miss the mark. A system designed from the ground up to play Game Boy games and mimic the system’s look should at least play the games well, but this sadly isn’t the case.

While some games suffer from the odd graphical instability, most games are simply ruined by horrid screen tearing along the top of the screen. It’s incredibly off-putting, not helped by the simplistic visuals on display here. Donkey Kong Country’s Game Boy port isn’t exactly a beautiful game, but the BittBoy’s technical mistakes make it look rather ghastly.

This is made even worse by the fact that the BittBoy’s screen is an incredibly crisp IPS panel with fantastic colors. It takes these old games and makes them shine brightly again, like a dying fire being introduced to a heap of new fuel. Games genuinely look remarkable on this system, but the poor emulation ruins an otherwise beautiful image.

At least the BittBoy is still functional for most NES games, and the controls provided are good enough for the job. While the D-Pad is rather squishy compared to the NES original, the four face buttons—normal and turbo—are snappy and responsive. They aren’t helped by the system’s frontend. While you can save on demand and change volume/brightness with bespoke button combinations, they don’t seem anywhere near as responsive as they should be.

The BittBoy’s beautiful IPS screen makes any game look crisp.

All in all, the BittBoy is a misstep. It’s certainly a decent starting point for the developers to build upon, but its hardware is too weak, and its emulation is too unruly to create a great experience. With better software and a superior D-Pad, the BittBoy could be a definitive Game Boy replica. Right now, though, this isn’t it.

If you feel like the BittBoy is for you, it’s currently available on Ali Express. It’s quite cheap!

More about the topics: Bitt Boy, Donkey Kong Country, emulation, Game Boy, Link's Awakening, nintendo