Of all the obscure clone consoles to come out of the Far East, the BittBoy is one of the most interesting we've seen in a long time - for obvious reasons. We're massive fans of the original Game Boy here at Nintendo Life and the fact that the BittBoy shamelessly steals the same basic design was enough to get our attention. However, this dinky little device doesn't run Game Boy games (that would make too much sense), but instead contains a NES emulator and 300 titles of wildly varying quality. And if it wasn't blindingly obvious already, this isn't an official product.
Costing around $30 and coming in white, red, black and sky blue, the BittBoy is essentially a portable NES emulator. The 2.5-inch IPS screen is bright and colourful with good viewing angles, while the mono speaker is surprisingly punchy for a unit of this size. On the bottom there's a Micro USB port for charging the internal 500mAh battery, as well as a port to connect the unit to your TV for the big-screen experience, while the right-hand side is home to the volume dial.
On the front you'll find a nice, big D-Pad as well as four face buttons, Start, Select and Reset - the latter of which returns you to the console's main menu, where you select one of 300 different games to play. This menu is accompanied by the level one music from Mighty Final Fight and features artwork from Chip 'n Dale: Rescue Rangers, two Capcom games which are included on the console. On the top of the unit there's the power switch and what looks like a MicroSD card slot, which hints at the tantalising ability to load up your own games. Unfortunately, the slot doesn't do anything, so we can save you the bother of attempting to insert a card. We already did that, and were dismayed to find that it simply dropped inside the BittBoy, forcing us to open up the unit in order to retrieve it. When we did we found no MicroSD card mechanism on the inside - just fresh air.
Without the opportunity to load up other games, you're left to the mercy of the 300 which have been pre-loaded. These range from genuine NES classics - such as Super Mario Bros. 3, Double Dragon, Ninja Gaiden 2, Tetris, Pac-Man, Balloon Fight, Gradius, Donkey Kong and Bomber Man, but the vast majority of titles included are of rather dubious quality. Street Fighter V is an hilarious bootleg version of Street Fighter II, while Man in Red is Space Invaders but with a soldier (yes, he's dressed in red) doing the shooting from the bottom of the screen. Titles such as Rural Goblin, Mad Xmas, Awful Rushing and Raidon Bungeling give away the console's Far Eastern origins, and there's even a clone of Angry Birds thrown in for good measure - which in reality is New Zealand Story with different sprites (the original, untouched NES version of Taito's classic is also included, bizarrely).
Some of the ROMs don't even play properly - Harry Potter (again, a terrible bootleg) just displays corrupted visuals on-screen while Rad Racer 2's scrolling landscape is totally botched, no doubt due to poor emulation. While these might be reasons enough to avoid the system, it's just about worth it purely due to the fact that most games load fine, and there are enough top-notch official NES titles to make it appealing.
Battery life is around two to three hours - not amazing - and the D-Pad is rather spongy, often failing to pick up directional commands unless you give it a really firm push. Despite this, we still found ourselves carrying the BittBoy around with us more than we expected; the excellent screen and pocket-sized nature of the console makes it ideal for quick-burst mobile play; it takes up so little room in your bag that you can afford to take it along for practically any journey.
The unofficial nature of the BittBoy will naturally give many pause for thought, and it's a real shame that MicroSD card support wasn't included - being able to carry around the entire NES library on such a tiny device would have been very welcome. For all its faults, the BittBoy succeeds in one way - it makes us pine for a proper portable emulator from Nintendo itself. The NES Classic was all well and good, but imagine a unit of that quality in portable form, filled to the brim with classic 8-bit games. Yum.