News Article

Archos Uses Star Fox And Mario To Demo Its Console-Killing Tablet

Posted by Damien McFerran

UPDATE: Blogger posted video and installed emulators - nothing to see here...

EDIT: Since this story went live we have been contacted by the person who created the video, who has made it clear that they installed the emulators and ROMs themselves onto the demonstration device when it was shown at a recent trade show, and not Archos:

Archos demonstrate their devices at their booth at a trade show, I travel around the world at all trade shows since 2004 to video-blog awesome devices like this one...I go there and I test the device, I transfer files onto it (emulators, roms) to do my video. I am a blogger.

So there you have it - Archos aren't hawking their wares with Nintendo games, although in our defense, no mention is made on the original video that the files have been installed by the blogger himself, which has led to several other sites (not just us) assuming that this video is an officially-sanctioned demonstration.

ORIGINAL STORY: When it comes to smartphone and tablet gaming, one of the biggest issues traditional players have is the lack of physical buttons.

Sure, games like Angry Birds — which are designed to play to the strengths of the touchscreen — work like a dream on your phone, but other titles are less successful, forcing players to use 'virtual controls' which are overlaid onto the display, obscuring the action and reducing accuracy due to the lack of tactile feedback.

A few solutions have arisen over the years to deal with this problem. Sony tried to give phones proper gaming controls with the Xperia Play, but that particular experiment seems to have failed. Other options include bolt-on game pads which connect to your phone via a Bluetooth connection, such as the iControlPad.

Now manufacturer Archos has entered the fray with the GamePad (no relation to the Wii U GamePad, naturally) which is essentially an Android-based tablet with gaming controls stuck on its sides.

Interestingly, Archos recently demonstrated the $149 Gamepad using an N64 emulator — something which is legally dubious to say the least. It's not the first time this kind of thing has happened — Nokia attempted to sell its N900 phone by advertising a SNES emulator back in 2009 — but we find it very interesting that these manufacturers are resorting to traditional console games when it comes to selling their products...products which are apparently going to spell the end for 'dedicated' gaming devices like the 3DS and Vita.

The video is below, with the N64 segment arriving around the 3:15 mark.

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Does the Archos GamePad interest you, or will you be sticking to the Wii U GamePad for your entertainment needs? Let us know in the comments section.


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User Comments (89)



kyuubikid213 said:

This...doesn't seem...helpful.
They made buttons and a touchscreen to make the game more...efficient. Remapping the touchscreen buttons to the buttons again is a step backward.



shinpichu said:

I see no problem with this. They're advertising a device that is designed for traditional-style game, why not use some traditional games?

And emulators are perfectly legal. If not, then the VC wouldn't be legal, and the MM Anniversary and X collections would have been Gamecube exclusives. EDIT: That said, downloading roms that you don't own is illegal, so some of what's shown in the video could be legally murky.



Boo_Buster said:

"Hey guys! We have this device that is going to spell the end of the dedicated gaming market!... Can we borrow a few of their awesome games to show you how it works?"



Damo said:

@shinpichu There is no way that Archos could have legally acquired the ROM files needed to play those games.

And the VC is legal because it's Nintendo making the games available themselves!



Gold_Ranger said:

The VC is legal because it's Nintendo who owns the games and systems.
Free Emulators and free ROMS are not the same. They are done by people with no consent of Nintendo. Or any other gaming company...



Hokori said:

@shinpichu VC is different they are Nintendo spacific emulators that you pay $ for while these ones probably were free and well not by Nintendo



shinpichu said:

Sure they could have. It' entirely possible they bought a rom dumper, dumped the roms themselves, and then copied the roms onto their tablets. Of course, it's also equally possible that the roms are pirated. From what we see, it's impossible to tell.



shinpichu said:

I repeat, emulation is not illegal. VC is run by Nintendo, but there are plenty of commercial releases(especially collections of retro games) that use emulators, often without the consent of the maker of the original system.

Also, as far as the tablet goes, I think stuff like this exists to show that tablets can do what consoles can do as well as the more typical iOS/Android fare.



MeloMan said:

Well... minus the use of the N64 sample, I'd say this is a decent thing for those that want that tactile feel for hardcore gaming on their tablet/smartphone. I still don't do hardcore gaming on a phone, but to each their own, it will be awesome to somebody.



V8_Ninja said:

@shinpichu From a technical standpoint, yes, emulators and the act of emulation are not illegal. However, acquiring ROMs from third parties who have no association with Nintendo or do not in fact own the game content in the ROM is quite illegal. Yes, there is the possibility that the company dumped the game cartridges and created their own ROMs, but I honestly can't see anyone going to that length when there are over thousands of already-dumped Starfox 64 ROMs floating around the internet.

As for my opinion? This is cool, but then again it's Android. When I think of gaming, the last platform I think of is Android. Sure, there may be some really good Android games, but being based off of Linux means that a large chunk of all video games are unplayable on the OS. Heck, Linux is just now getting Steam support, so I don't expect Android to go anywhere in terms of the gaming sphere.



Wonder_Ideal said:

To each their own. As for me, I am definitely sticking with the Wii U GamePad. The use of Star Fox for this device seems...dubious.



NintyMan said:

This is funny. The Super Mario 3D Land knock-off was bad enough, but they dare to use Nintendo games without Nintendo's permission to pitch a product that could compete with their handhelds?

Remind me why Nintendo should be worried about the iPhone and Android games, because things like this are just not serious.



Hokori said:

@shinpichu But with Nintendo it's up to the LEGAL owners as for your 3rd party theory 3rd parties CAN release on what ever they want since they have all the LEGAL support for there own game series, which is why MM collections, Sonic Collections, and many other collections made it to none Nintendo/Sega platforms



shinpichu said:

I think that you and I are not arguing the same thing. Yes, selling the rom of a game you don't own the license to wrapped in an emulator is illegal. HOWEVER, creating an emulator for a system you didn't make without the consent of the maker of the original console is not illegal.



XCWarrior said:

You can tell the guy is not comfortable with the current button placement. And he's the guy who made it. So I'll pass, thanks.



McHaggis said:

@Damo I think that depends on the country they were in at the time they acquired the ROM, and also the method used. Cart dumpers are legal in some countries and emulators are legal in even more countries. You can even dump N64 games with an Action Replay. It is illegal to use another company's property to promote your own products, however.



Damo said:

@XCWarrior The guy doing the demo is not an Archos employee, as far as I can gather. But the emulator and ROMs would appear to be on the device when he tried it out.



DarkNinja9 said:

to me it kinda looks like a ps vita but bootleg in some way idk xD but yeah i think this time they can rly sue them



doctor_doak said:

There is no way Nintendo would sell their titles to Android and undermine their own hardware sales.

It's not going to appeal to people who play games on their phones, it's not going to appeal to people who play 3DS. It's a substitute for tablet/handheld gaming. It sort of looks like a Vita, but why would you buy this thing when you could buy a 3DS that actually has quality 1st party titles on it?



Morpheel said:

Eh I already have my Xperia Play for my android gaming needs. (And even then, most games make no real use of the control pad).



AVahne said:

Looks pretty awkward to hold and game for long periods of time. At least with Vita the buttons are closer to the sticks so it doesn't feel too weird.
And great! They're gonna kill handheld consoles by illegally emulating old Nintendo games. >.>



Bulbousaur said:

Sure, quite a lot of people do play on ROMs (come on admit it), just like people download music illegally. No one can catch those millions of people. But using it as a major selling point for a product without the original publisher's permission, which is supposed competing with a product which can play the SAME GAMES legally (Star Fox 64 3D and Mario 64 DS)? Nintendo's gonna sue.

I'm all for a tablet which with buttons, but if this is the best they do for games with it? Just stealing from other companies? No thank you.



Bulbousaur said:

@shinpichu Still, using Nintendo licensed products for advertising without their permission is surely illegal, especially if they are using it to compete against an opposing product?



Tasuki said:

Thats as bad as that Wikipad thing that is supposedly going to launch on Halloween at Gamestop. For me I am not impressed I am perfectly content with the 3DS for portable gaming and in a few months I will be getting the Neo Geo X.



AVahne said:

The WikiPad at least looks a bit better than this thing and the controls don't look as awkward to hold.
Can't wait to see unboxing videos for the Neo Geo X, that thing looks pretty!



shinpichu said:

Speaking of the Neo Geo X, I think it would be cool if SNK starting making reproductions of the NGPC and some of the accessories for it.



Void said:

@Happy_Mask Unless the games you can play no longer have people holding the rights, intellectual property, or whatever..
No it isn't, as it stands now, Nintendo could probably sue them easily for copyright infringement. Unless they asked Nintendo, and then Nintendo allowed them to put their games on it, which I doubt ever happened.



Zombie_Barioth said:

This is great for people who already game on their tablets but I can't see how this would spell doom for consoles. Most people who quite consoles completely in favor of tablets wouldn't be apart of the core crowd in the first place.

If they think that the main allure of consoles is tactile feedback their sorely mistaken. If that were true we'd see many more people switch to pc gaming. There are things like first part IPs you'll never see on tablets.



Shiromikio said:

From the video it doesn't look very comfortable, the buttons are too near the edge and just barely fit on either side. The main thing it's got going is the larger screen. The dedicated gamers are probably better off with a Vita (or 3DS XL) and its games library, while for casual gamers it's at a size too big for a phone and on the small end of a tablet.

Not remotely interested here. Maybe someone out there will like it, though.



Rect_Pola said:

The problem is that the device is not a dedicated hardware that gets games made for it. Ironically enough, Android is the "hardware" and the archos is the controller. So, unless there's an inbuilt ability to convert to take advantage of them, LEGAL games built around it will be few and far between. But even if there is, the games will still be ostensibly built around the most universally common "controller": a large touch screen.



WaxxyOne said:

@shinpiichu: Is that the sound of splitting hairs I hear? Coding an emulator isn't illegal because it's your own code that happens to reproduce the effects of a documented chip design. Dumping a cartridge ROM to a file is questionably legal depending on whether you could call it reverse-engineering, which typically isn't legal.

Using an emulator and a dumped ROM file to advertise your new tablet is unquestionably copyright infringement. I believe it's filed under "Using another company's IP to make money without their permission."

Of course, it's also false advertising when he makes comments like "So, yeah, when you buy that, that's what you get" and refers to Sony and Nintendo games being on the device and soon to be Microsoft titles. Yeah, you might want to warn your potential customers that you are advising them to engage in illegal activity next time.



theblackdragon said:

Guys, we're not here to discuss the legality of emulators and/or ROMs — there are plenty of other places on the internet for that particular discussion. Please, let's keep the comments focused on the article at hand.



King_Boo said:

Although I never thought about it, I guess if the Wii U gamepad and Vita got it on, you'd end up with that thing.



GreenDream said:

When the demonstrator was mapping the touch controls to the buttons, he had to drag them EXACTLY into the positions he wanted. Why would anyone ever think that's user friendly? The programmers should have made it so that it required 2 finger presses, it's silly that the player needs to drag icons to set commands. Maybe this was because of an error encountered due to that game being coded to have enormous icons blocking your view at all times, but it's still silly.

I gotta admit though, seeing that gave me flashbacks to Phantasy Star Online!



GreenDream said:

It looks uncomfortable, he had to contort his hands into robotic positions to use it. It was cute that he showcased "one of the most awesome games", Pro-Am Racing for the NES! "Tilting is not how games should be played." Depends on the game... "I hope Nintendo supports Android." FAT CHANCE.

Well...looks like the wave of the future is a blast from the past!



kkslider5552000 said:

Is the traditional video game console "killer" like those many "Halo killers" I remembered hearing about in 2004-6, and then Killzone (a mediocre game in every way btw) aside, never hearing from any of them again? Because y'know, none of them could back up their words in ANY way and were just desperate to get attention?

I can understand the belief that traditional consoles are in trouble at least, but the constant over-the-top "CONSOLES ARE DOOMED" nonsense reminds me of the semi-annual "PCs are dead" news that have been around since long before I was ever on the internet.



GreenDream said:

@kkslider5552000 Standalone PC's future is finally in actual trouble now, though, since portable computers are now able to start competing technologically with larger equipment. I don't mean PC's are in danger of extinction now, I mean 20 years from now.



Ras said:

Please to answer, what is the game with the push blocks and green pathways just before Starfox?



FyreeTSG said:

@Knuckles SAME HERE!!
Emulators are just sad ways of playing REAL games on other formats...
I'll stick w/ Nintendo---and I smell a lawsuit in the future--Oh, and BTW Nintendo hasn't lost a legal battle in over 2 decades....



hover3d said:

Sega are already on android and nintendo will stay exclusive to nintendo consoles and Microsoft is about hardcore gaming not smartphones



Ras said:

Answered my own question. The platformer right before Starfox is Cordy, which is on both iOS and Android.



LeonChamp said:

The device looks pretty good, I'd like to know its specs and if the screen is HD?? Also I can't tell properly off the video on my phone, but does it have analogue sticks?? Because most N64 games require this to work properly, for example, Kart 64 you can steer gradually by pressing the stick slightly o the left or right!! If its just a standard Dpad, only Nes/Snes could be played properly, also how come the N64 games are not full screen?? Lastly $149.99 sounds like a good price, but I live In the uk, it would cost about £249.99 by the time Vat is added!! Rip off Britain!!



Lan said:

How is this news? Stuff like this has been around forever



Damo said:

@Lan Games have been around forever, too. Let's stop reporting on those too, shall we?



Moshugan said:

A tablet computer with gamepad buttons would be oh-so-awesome IF (and only if) I would be allowed to freely install any PC game (or software) that I wish. No deal until that's achieved.



Moshugan said:

@Lan I think the main point was that they used Ninty software to demo their non-Ninty hardware, which is a quite a bad move.



Nintenjoe64 said:

The reason all the devices that promise to 'kill dedicated gaming devices' invariably fail is the lack of legitimate system selling games.

When this machine comes out with the most famous games they are allowed to use (Atari Jaguar AvP, a Tomb Raider port and Sonic 2), it will fail like all the others.



New_3DaSh_XL said:

It's illegal, this is stupid, the Wii U Gamepad is awesome, and the people who made this are idiots.



shinpichu said:

Why bring up the Wii U gamepad? This is an Android tablet, it's a completely different device.

What they're doing in the video(playing games they don't own) may be illegal, but I don't see anything wrong with giving a tablet/phone a set of buttons to use in addition to the touchscreen.



alLabouTandroiD said:

If on it i could legally play PC classics like Duke Nukem 2, the Commander Keen games, some nice indie games and so on i might have to think about getting it.



Hokori said:

This illegal sort of thing makes me worry about any generation that's below me.... people tell me how cool this stuff is and act all cool but I'm just like... Meh



Hardy83 said:

They are probably showing emulators because if you read comments when it was first announced, people were talking about how amazing this would be for emulators.
They did the same with the Xperia play, but this one has more promise, with the price if anything.

I think it's fine and considering the price, for an Android 4.0 tablet, it's very tempting.



Charbax said:

Hey Damien McFerran, it's not cool that you think I am Archos, Archos demonstrate their devices at their booth at a trade show, I travel around the world at all trade shows since 2004 to video-blog awesome devices like this one, I'm a blogger at and I go there and I test the device, I transfer files onto it (emulators, roms) to do my video. I am a blogger.

If anything, you should all sign a petition demanding that Nintendo make the correct choice to make $1 Billion in profits quite simply adding all their back-catalog of games legally and officially onto the awesome Android platform. $5/month for unlimited Nintendo-on-Android package would be perfect. With millions of Nintendo fans signing up for that, we can then expect amazing things like Nintendo doing a little to add online gameplay to Super Mario Kart from SNES, online gameplay to any number of other awesome Nintendo games, Nintendo can take those and add levels to new sequels, using their same game engines it's relatively easy for Nintendo to do!



ouroborous said:

i do hate when the XYBA buttons are a d-pad instead of real buttons tho.
open-source programming/applications is the one thing missing from major handheld devices and this device seeeeems to support that, which is nice.
but i agree, if nintendo just released their backlog of old games, either on 3DS or handheld devices in general, they could be a profitable company based on that alone and then take whatever wacky chances they want with new consoles and games and not worry so much about profitability (give things time to prove or disprove themselves with no real danger of financial loss crashing the company).



ouroborous said:

if "pirates" can add wireless play to NES and SNES games, Nintendo could certainly do it too.
i really doubt this android thing will get much support from the retail gaming world tho.



LittleKing said:

@shinpichu Emulation itself is not illegal, but you're just getting off on the technicality that it's the ROMs that are the problem, when 99.9% of people playing emulated games did not dump the ROMs themselves. Do you honestly think whoever set this up purchased and dumped the ROMs off of a dozen N64 games? There is nothing wrong with emulation. There is nothing wrong with obtaining the games legally from those who hold the rights to them (Nintendo, etc.). This, however, is probably illegal.

What the hell will you play with this thing on ANDROID? Ant Smasher? I don't think so. In fact, emulation is the only thing I can think of where this could be useful since no developer will be building games around it. Many games will continue to use unorthodox controls (sliding, panning, pinching, twisting) which this thing cannot easily handler. Plus, the inputs required to control some tablet games are highly dynamic; they may change from screen to screen. The only games I can see benefiting from this would be games you'd have to emulate.

Also, why the crap would anyone buy this for $150 when you can buy a 3DS for $160? (or less, if you get a deal)? Yes, you don't have to buy 3DS games which cost money, but the games that will really benefit from this are few and far between. Aside from emulated games. Which are free if you pirate them. That's the only use I can think of, unless developers were to start developing around this device. In that event, the whole thing was pointless; why remove buttons from a family of devices, just to emulate them later?

EDIT: Just noticed the update. How nice of the guy to upload the emulator onto the demo device and slap on those ROMs. Now, the real question is, where did he get the ROMs?



Henmii said:

Strange story! So a blogger needs to install his own software (in this case Pirate Nintendo software) to test a new device!

If this device is sooo super, why didn't the company already put their own software into it to demonstrate the device! It's just a thought!



Kisame83 said:

Media machines with emulator support is nothing new. Heck, if this is a "console killer" than so is the PSP!

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