There’s a lot of interest right now in mini retro consoles. Pre-loaded with classic games, these handy devices sate our appetite for nostalgia with zero technical skills or configuration required. The latest one I’ve stumbled across, repeatedly appearing in my Facebook feed (thanks to some arcane algorithm) is the Pixel Gamer, which boasts over “9000 games” for 30+ systems.

So rather than an official recreation of a specific console (like the NES mini), we’re obviously into the realm of legally dubious 3rd party emulation boxes. I imagine there are stacks of devices like this coming out of China, but the people behind this one appear to be based in the Netherlands.

Looking at the Game List, we have all the big name consoles and handhelds from the 8 and 16 bit eras. Also the N64, Playstation and MAME. Home computers are represented with the Commodore 64, Amstrad CPC and Amiga. No Spectrum, which slightly surprises me as I thought it was known in Europe? No MS DOS either, boo.

Regular price tag is 225 euros, which seems rather steep. Yeah it has a billion games. How many of them are you going to find time to play? However it’s currently on sale for a more reasonable 125, and for all I know this is one of those situations where the full price is never actually applied.

Anyway from the layout of the USB ports I immediately guessed what hardware this is based on, and digging into the website confirmed my suspicions: it’s a Raspberry Pi. That’s the tiny linux computer, conceived as an educational tool and beloved by hobbyists due to its size, low price tag and myriad potential uses.

So you might ask, why not just get a Pi and set it up for retro gaming yourself? A regular Pi costs just £35. Furthermore you don’t need to get deep into the inner workings of linux, or install multiple software packages. You can get Retropi which combines a graphical front end with numerous emulators all in one package.

We might counter, you still have to go trawling dodgy websites to find the roms. Also even with Retropi, I imagine a bit of tinkering is still inevitable. (the one time I tried, admittedly several years back, I couldn’t get any audio output). Some folks simply don’t want to get involved with that, and prefer a totally plug-and-play option.

So basically, do you want to triple the cost to have someone set up a Pi for you? I’m not tempted myself; I have mini Nintendos for authenticity and convenience, since those are the systems of most interest to me (apart from PC gaming of course). Also I have Pi for a technical project, ready to turn into a living room dosbox device. Still I guess if you want access to a wealth of old games at the touch of a button, this could be a justifiable purchase.

Erm, except just to reiterate the “legally dubious” bit. Aren’t Nintendo fairly keen about protecting their intellectual properties these days? So if this appeals maybe grab one before the lawyers get to it.