Retroid Pocket 2 Plus (RP2+) Initial Review
Model: Indigo (GameCube Inspired)
Initial Review: 1/12/2022
Price Paid: $99 + Shipping
Overall Initial Score: 9.3/10 (A) (Price Weighted Very Heavily with all Grades). I plan to revisit this review within a couple months with further findings and as new options become available for the device. This is an initial review based on one long week of heavy use.
In the realm of "budget" handhelds, the RP2+ now officially replaces the Anbernic RG351V as my favorite budget option. The 351V was my favorite for the vast majority of 2021. It will be very tough to beat the value of the RP2+ in 2022.
👍Significantly improved Saturn, Dreamcast, DS & N64 Performance!!
👍Drastically Improved Firmware/UI
👍No More Retroid OS
👍Setup Is Easy
👎Right Slider Is Awful
👎Screen Is "Meh"
In The End
This was a tough handheld to review. There are many things to love about it and some not so great things, but for $99, it's absolutely the best $ for $ retro handheld at this pricepoint, especially if your interests are in Dreamcast and N64 games. I would not suggest this handheld for PS2/GameCube. This is just my initial review as I plan to re-evaluate things again in a couple months. I do wish they had gone with a much better screen and could have raised the price a little... Regardless, the RP2+ is almost the Swiss Army Knife of Budget Retro Handhelds as it can do a little bit of everything and quite of few of those things well.
What's nice is seeing Moorechip constantly improving their handhelds without jacking up the price (Anbernic style). The RP2 was an improvement over over the the Retroid Pocket and the RP2+ is an even further improvement. 5x more powerful processor than the RP2, double the internal storage, double the RAM, touch-screen functionality and improved buttons make the RP2+ an excellent deal.
The RP2+ launched with 5 color options and sadly no plans to revisit the Funtastic (N64 Inspired) colors at the moment.
OS/Firmware (220.127.116.11) (A-)
*Please note that firmware updates are stacked, so you will need to update more than once starting out.
RetroidLauncher is a potentially neat yet very incomplete (Front End) addition to the RP2+ for loading games. It doesn't support all platforms or file types, so for now isn't of much use. Being Android, there are plenty of Front End app options out there, but I'm opting for performance over looks and limiting any kind of resource hogging Front Ends.
All in all, coming off the somewhat frustrating process of setting up the original RP2, the upgraded UI/Firmware running on a more modern Android build with the RP2+, it's a drastically cleaner and minimally frustrating experience. The new UI also makes it incredibly easy to make gameplay screen shots and videos to share with a quick swipe on the right side of the screen that pulls up a menu.
Storage/Included ROMs (A+)
It seems the GameForce Handheld started a trend because this is now another retro handheld that came with no microSD card and no pre-loaded ROMs which is an excellent move in my opinion. With the RP2+, you have to source your own ROMs which is a great thing for the hobby. This keeps the entire transaction 100% Legal from both ends. Gone is the Retroid OS and shady "Game Store"!
Build Quality/Design (B+)
Build quality is "good" for the price and includes some upgrades over the original with a better d-pad and face buttons using conductive rubber this time. The shell is the same exact shell as the original RP2. The shell is good quality but still on the "slick" side. It would have been nice for them to add some texture to the back. Other than the d-pad and face button changes, the build quality is the same as the original. Some QC issues have come to light from the community, which seem to have been addressed by the manufacturer after the initial run.
The screen is a bit of a mixed bag. Touch-screen makes menu navigation and set up a lot easier than the original RP2 using the virtual mouse, but the touch screen used here is below average quality and not very responsive. Color saturation I felt was actually slightly better on the original RP2 (the first run), but the screen on the RP2+ is in no way a deal breaker considering the low price. Using the touch-screen for game controls will mostly disappoint people as it doesn't register every touch accurately. The capacitive touch-screen addition basically just makes menu navigation setup a little more convenient, and helps in some games. My screen had a lot of "light bleeding" all the way around but went away after opening it up and loosening some screws and setting the screen in place better. At the price, I'm willing to deal with some minor DIY tinkering without complaining.
In the end, the screen looks fine for retro gaming but is not ideal for high resolution games. Your phone is still a much better option for Android gaming!
Emulation Performance (A+ for the price)
-GameCube/PS2 (NA): When the retro handheld world first heard that the RP2+ would be able to run GC and PlayStation 2 games, thoughts ran a little wild with that news. While it can run some GameCube games "ok" with reduced resolution and very few PS2 games, it's not an optimal situation. I spent a few hours messing around with both systems and while some games are actually playable, it's definitely not a reason to buy this handheld. I don't see this as a negative because when this handheld upgrade was designed, no one knew that AetherSX2 was about to happen and for $99, it's unreasonable to expect much in this area.
We'll have to keep an eye on what people come up with concerning GameCube and PS2 as things move along though. Never count the community out when it comes to getting more than you should be able to from a device. Some people are reporting good results with some games... I plan to revisit this topic in the future.
All of those classic consoles look and play great on the RP2+ whether using your preferred standalone Android app emulators or RetroArch. The 4:3 screen works great with home consoles but it looks great with handheld consoles from that era too if you don't mind a little black space on the screen not being used. SEGA Saturn emulation is a big improvement over the original RP2.
PSP performance is "ok" and best described as hit or miss whether using PPSSPP or RetroArch. A 4:3 screen doesn't really work well with PSP to begin with, so this isn't a big loss. I was surprised that PSP performance really wasn't much better than what I got with the original RP2. If you are hoping to play the God of War PSP games full speed on this device, you'll be left a little let down. I'd say at least 80% of the games I tried to run were fine though. For most games, you'll want to use OpenGL not Vulcan as the backend.
DS performance is improved over the original RP2. One screen is not ideal for DS, but fortunately a lot of games play fine without seeing the second screen and apps like DraStic make it easy to swap screens quickly. With a little tweaking, DS games look, sound and play very well on this device.
Whether using RetroArch or standalone emulators, N64 really shines on this handheld and most games (even notoriously hard to run titles) do well on the Retroid Pocket 2 Plus. To make controls easier, you can use a combination of controller and touch controls simultaneously as well. Some games, you can run a 2x filter and it still looks/plays great. Most games you'll want to run at 1X and deal with some jagged less smooth graphics in exchange for great performance. If you are using M64PlusFZ, you'll want to make sure to use the latest store version which includes updates specifically made for the RP2+.
Settings advice from developer of M64PlusFZ
1. Navigate to Profiles and select Emulation.
2. Select GLideN64-Very-Accurate and select Copy.
3. Give it a custom name and hit OK.
4. Enable "Use Fast Shaders"
5. Set "Use Native Resolution Factor" to 1X.
6. Go to Profiles and Select Profiles and select the custom profile you made.
7. Under Shader Settings, enable FXAA shader at 1X.
-SEGA Dreamcast (A)
SEGA Dreamcast Emulation also shines on the RP2+. Everything I tested including Shenmue and Sonic Adventure 2 ran great with great sound. Unlike the RP2, Dreamcast emulation on this one rarely went above 50% CPU or memory usage at full frames. Dreamcast looks better on the RP2+ than other retro systems too!
Android gaming on the RP2+ is a mixed bag held back by the screen resolution and shabby touch quality, but you can get some good Android gaming out of the system particularly with older classic games that are optimized for controllers. The lack of a high resolution screen does cause some issues with text in some games.
The lack of L3/R3 and a proper right thumb-stick as it was with the original is a little inconvenient but still somewhat unnecessary for the platforms it runs the best.
Most of the function buttons are a little on the loud and "clicky" side but the d-pad and face buttons have been improved over the original RP2 with conductive rubber and they are a bit more accurate. I feel like the d-pad and buttons sit a little too high with slightly too much travel required but they work well enough and are very responsive. Buttons went from too shallow to too high this time, but it's still a better overall experience. R1/L1 are clicky while R2/L2 are softer and work well as triggers.
The worst part about the controls is the simply the lousy analog right slider (the slider was not analog on the original)... The slider sticks a little bit at first but loosens up after a couple days. It's not an optimal setup for games requiring it to be used as the right thumb-stick but fortunately most retro games don't require a right thumb-stick. If a good right stick matters to you, this could be a real problem. The slider is not very accurate and awkward to use.
The dual front-facing stereo speakers are pretty good. They are positioned perfectly and I haven't heard sound this good out of sub $100 handhelds. Using wired headphones is an even better experience with the RP2+. Sound quality does vary depending on what software or app you are running.
Battery Performance (A)
Battery Performance is considerably improved over the original. I get probably an hour more of gameplay out of this battery and the battery charges in about half the time. Battery % does not always register accurately, so it's tough to measure performance accurately. Hopefully they can address this with a firmware update.
Steam Link (B)
Steam Link (app) is a pretty decent option to play some Steam games on your RP2+ away from the computer. The Good news is that it recognizes the RP2+ as a device and controls immediately. The Bad news is that high resolution games have text and menus that are hard to read. This can be somewhat adjusted on the computer prior to streaming though. I didn't experience any input delays using the RP2+. Streaming seemed to average around 35MBPS and audio was excellent.
Bluetooth Devices (A+)
Bluetooth and WiFi file transfer was a lot slower than it should have been, but Bluetooth Devices seem to work well. I connected numerous Bluetooth controllers and they all worked out great with no input delays you often see with devices. Bluetooth headphones work out well on this device as well with no noticeable delay as well.
Key Specs (A+)
- Unisoc Quad-core Tiger T310
- 1 x A75 + 3 x A55 + PowerVR GE8300
- 2GB LPDDR4x + 32GB EMMC
- Android 9
- WiFi 2.4G/5G + BT 5.0
- Battery 4000mAh
- 3.5 inch 480p touch screen with aspect ratio of 4:3
- Integrated rumble motor for better gaming experience
- Conductive rubber design for D-pad and face buttons
- Left/Right Analog Joystick
- Built-in official game launcher and frontend
- Built-in official OTA support for incremental upgrading
Suggested Links & Resources
RP2+ Game Compatibility (Performance) Spreadsheet (Community): https://docs.google.com/spreadsheets/u/0/d/103503TsnahFfuBKGlFAqC2r69acWaf578I6TEZuZDP4/htmlview#
Reddit Community: https://www.reddit.com/r/retroid
Retro Dodo Review:
PCB Upgrade Option (B)
The PCB Upgrade Option is an Industry First and an option owners of the original Retroid Pocket 2 can use to upgrade. I love the idea behind this to extend the life of handhelds when they become obsolete but the pricing should have been a little lower. At $99 for a fully assembled RP2+, I didn't see a lot of value in paying for the PCB Upgrade and having to do the work myself. Hopefully upgrades become an industry standard in the future.
Quality concerns have started popping up already with the first batch of RP2+ units, but I'm not sure how widespread it is. I am under the impression that they are offering to ship people screen replacements. There also appears to be common issues with the "16-bit" version where too much paint was used causing loud and sticking buttons. Most of the issues with the handheld can be fixed pretty easy DIY style it should be noted.
*The manufacturing issues with the 16-bit model have reportedly been addressed and fixed at the factory for the future.
One thing the Retroid Pocket 2 Plus has done is effectively make the Retroid Pocket 2 obsolete. I don't see any point in purchasing an original RP2 at this point even at the low price of $65. It would be insane to not just fork over an extra $34 for the RP2+. The original Retroid Pocket 2 I scored as an 8.5/10 but I'm downgrading that evaluation to a NA/10.
The Upcoming Retroid Pocket 3
There's not much recent information on the Retroid Pocket 3 but it's expected to release or pre-order early 2022. I'm not a big fan of the RP3's screen size for retro gaming but two proper thumb-sticks and more RAM will make it a nice option. The RP3 will have the same basic specs as the RP2+ with the only differences being two proper thumb-sticks with L3/R3 functionality, possibly more RAM and a 4.7" 16:9 higher resolution screen.
I expect to post a more definitive review of the RP2+ within a couple months...