GP32 and it's contenders recap


Still Fresh
Nov 29, 2003
I am the author of the "Handhelds that use cartridges FAQ" that can be found from online. However, lately I haven't been updating it too much. Now I decided to do something about, and wanted to share the information with you guys too. Have you ever heard of the FreeOn? The B'Ngo? Comments and additions are welcome.

Nokia N-Gage
The mobile phone company's first try at gaming market. Everything didn't go as smoothly as planned, mainly because of some design flaws, but they are really trying to make it work. Many big game publishers with many big titles are behind them, but we'll see what happens. Also works as a cell phone, naturally, and a pretty good one at that, though you look funny when talking into it (look for Sidetalkin' on the net).

Success Game Theory Admiral (2002?)
A GBA-look-a-like portable famiclone. There's two versions, one PAL and one NTSC.You actually hook up your Famicom-cartridges or even NES-cartridges onto this (looks silly, but apparently works). Much smaller than the other portable Famicoms and a name that doesn't leave anyone cold. And, it's cheap!

Gamepark GP-32 (2002)
The (minor) success story from Korea. Plenty of these have been sold during the last year or so, mainly because of developing fans and homebrewers. The dev stuff have been widely available since the beginning and the publisher, Gamepark, has nothing against it. This has resulted to versions and ports of dozens of emulators and other games on the system. Uses SmartMedia cards up to 128 MB. 32 Bit RISC CPU (ARM9) up to 133 MHz (that's the safe limit). 3.5" Reflective TFT LCD (65,536 colors). There's also a black limited edition version.

Sony PSP (2004)
Sony's answer to Nintendo's pocket dominance. The hype machine is running already. There's rumors that the PSP would have phone capabilities and the performance would be somewhere between PSX and PS2. Has several processors, copule of them MIPS R4000 32-bit core. 16:9-format widescreen TFT LCD (480x272 pixels, 24-bit full color), wireless LAN, USB 2.0, uses Memory Sticks and a new media format called UMD (Universal Media Disk, up to 1.8 GB) that's supposedly the follow-up to MiniDisc.

NSig FreeOn (2004?)
A handheld from Korea that has gone through many changes already, and it hasn't even been released. Apparently the technology might be used in many different devices, or their page just has pictures of several prototypes. Uses it's own ROM cartridges. 32bit ARM 7 Core CPU at 72 MHz, STN Color LCD 1.9", Bluetooth. This one, also, has a freely downloadable SDK.

Tiger Telematics GameTrac (2004?)
Another new contender on the busy handheld market. 2.8" screen, a built-in camera, uses Smart Media Carts up to 256 MB, has SMS, Bluetooth, GPS, MP3 and MPEG4 capabilities, and is, apparently, "designed for gaming". Has nothing to do with Tiger Electronics.

Tapwave Zodiac (2003)
A PDA turned into a portable gaming system. The most powerful of 'em all at the moment, but with a price to match. A high-resolution (480 x 320) 3.8-inch, 16-bit color (65,536 colors) display. Motorola® i.MX1 ARM9 processor. ATI Imageon graphics accelerator. Analog controller. Bluetooth for 8-player gaming. Memory upgradable to 1GB. Uses SD cards. Palm OS compatible. Built-in applications. Has some big developers (like Activision and Sega) making games for it, as well as plenty of smaller ones.

TTPCom B'ngo
This one also has phone capabilities, allowing 8-player multiplayer games. TFT LCD display with 176*220 resolution and 16-bit color. Has a built-in camera, SMS, 6 built-in games, Bluetooth, WAP browser, etc. Their SDK (utilizing WGE graphics engine) is also free and they claim to have +100 games available.

Other updates to make to my FAQ..
GBA SP versions : Mana-Blue & Legend of Seiken Edition, Pokemon Torchid Orange Edition, Boktai Edition, Famicom Anniversary Edition, Golden TRU
Edition, Pearl Pink, Pearl Blue, Flame Red, Onyx Black, Azurite Blue,
Platinum Silver, Pearl White FF Tactics Edition, more... GBA versions..

Geez, the handheld market is getting crowded.
Check the (still not updated) version of the whole FAQ from

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Indeed :) But at least Tiger allowed you to access internet (internet kit let you hook up an external modem and connect to a UNIX account or a BBS), I haven't seen that on GP32 yet :)

Suprisingly many new handhelds are going the way of GP32 and thus offering free SDK's.
The Sony PSP looks like the one to look out for folks. The Zodiac (however nice) is nothing more than an equivalent of a GP48. Wait and see how it fares against the former which no doubt will have an extensive software library to match.

Give the peeps out there time to develop homebrew progs for it, theyre bound to find a way...