GameShell DIY handheld is a cool idea with one big problem

Ever for the reason that Nintendo Switch got here into my life, I’ve performed much more video games. You’ll suppose I used to be already taking part in them on a regular basis on account of my job. And positive, I performed lots. However I spend most days writing about them. And within the night, I dislike hiding away on my PC within the workplace or taking up the tv to make everybody watch me get annoyed with a race in Forza. The Change and The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild made me notice that I’m pleased with handheld gaming. And now, all I can take into consideration is getting extra handheld units to have entry to video games past the Nintendo eShop.

That’s the place the GameShell from ClockworkPi is available in.

The GameShell is a do-it-yourself modular handheld package that comes with every little thing you have to piece collectively your personal transportable console for $159 ($139 for college kids). ClockworkPi has constructed a Linux-based system that runs on a RetroPi-style micro laptop. It comes with a display, the buttons, a case, and every little thing else you have to assemble your personal Sport Boy-style system. And also you do should assemble it your self.

However is that course of pleasant, and what in regards to the high quality of the top product? Properly, the GameShell has lots to like. However I additionally encountered at the least one downside that’s making it troublesome for me to get pleasure from.

What you’ll like

Simple to place collectively

The GameShell comes as a set of plastic elements and circuit boards (PCBs) that you just piece collectively. This course of is painless. I might count on that the majority youngsters would have little hassle with the meeting. And even most youthful youngsters may most likely get by means of it with some supervision.

You’ll simply need to just remember to are cautious when coming out the plastic elements and dealing with the PCBs. The one points I had had been with extra plastic round sure elements that I needed to lower away utilizing a software. A razor blade and wire cutters are all you really want.

Above: All the things that comes with the GameShell.

Plugging it into and arranging it within the GameShell, nonetheless, doesn’t require any instruments. You gained’t discover any screws or bolts. The PCBs and buttons snap into the plastic, after which the plastic elements join collectively and maintain every little thing into place.

And surprisingly, the end result doesn’t really feel low cost or prefer it’s going to disintegrate.

Good software program

The most effective features of the GameShell is its working system. It runs Clockwork OS, which incorporates emulators for GameBoy Advance and indie recreation CaveStory.

Above: The Clockwork OS.

Picture Credit score: ClockworkPi

The menus are swift and easy to navigate. And the system hundreds content material comparatively shortly. It additionally comes with RetroArch, which is a frontend for emulators. RetroArch makes it easy so as to add help for different platforms so long as you arrange an web connection.

It’s straightforward so as to add extra apps to the GameShell. When you join it to Wi-Fi, you may ship recordsdata over your community from PC. This makes it straightforward so as to add different emulators and even your personal software program. The ClockworkPi website additionally has nice boards with numerous tutorials on the way to add particular apps which might be straightforward to comply with.

What you gained’t like

The D-pad

My main downside with the GameShell is a giant one: The D-pad is terrible. It solely registers a typical press sometimes. If I need to be sure that a D-pad button works, I’ve to press down with pressure.

The D-pad requires sufficient pressure that I discover it uncomfortable to play virtually something. And even when I’m urgent intentionally, it nonetheless gained’t register each enter. That’s irritating, and I’m not going to place my fingers susceptible to repetitive stress harm for that have.

Now, I’ve reached out to ClockworkPi to see if I can determine this out. Different GameShell homeowners don’t seem to be they’re having this similar downside. So I’m hoping we are able to determine an answer. However the issue is that I assembled this system, so I don’t know if the issue is with the elements or with the way in which I put them collectively.

I’ve tried eradicating any extra plastic and cleansing the contacts on the buttons. That appeared to enhance issues barely, however not sufficient to repair the issue.


At this level, I can’t advocate the GameShell. That can change if I can get the D-pad to work in a approach that’s acceptable. Proper now, this handheld is unplayable for me. And that’s a disgrace as a result of every little thing else is so good.

I’ll keep on high of this and see if I can get it working. The excellent news is that for the reason that GameShell is modular, I may maybe pop in a alternative or utterly upgraded management meeting. That provides me hope.

However at this level, I feel you must keep away from the GameShell until you have an interest in improvement.

The GameShell is out now beginning at $139. ClockworkPi offered a pattern unit to GamesBeat for the aim of this evaluate.

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