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ANBERNIC RG-ARC (or, “Return of the Nomad”)

Discussion in 'General Sega Discussion' started by LordOfSquad, Oct 24, 2023.

  1. LordOfSquad

    LordOfSquad

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    Boom, bitches.



    There’s been a glut of these retro handheld emulators the last few years but here’s the first one with SEGA styling and a proper 6-button layout. Anbernic generally makes pretty solid stuff, this looks like it’ll be a slam dunk. The chipset should be able to handle up to Dreamcast/PSP games, with the usual caveat of N64/Saturn stuff being hit-or-miss.

    I’ve got way too many fuckin handhelds as is, but, it’s gonna be hard for me to resist this one. I’ll wait for reviews as any savvy consumer should but it looks promising.
     
  2. muteKi

    muteKi

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    That looks very tasty, and depending on the price and how hard it will be to install Moonlight on this thing (if it doesn't come pre-installed) I might find myself getting this.
     
  3. doc eggfan

    doc eggfan

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    Looks interesting, I've been mildly looking at the huge range of retro gaming handhelds, but I have a PSVita, so I didn't see much reason to buy one, but this six button layout the first to really pique my interest.

    Also, reference to the "The Nomad" made me think of this:
    [​IMG]
     
  4. LordOfSquad

    LordOfSquad

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  5. Azookara

    Azookara

    yup Member
    I've designed handhelds in my free time that look just like this. So needless to say, I've been glued to the news on this thing. There is a NEED to hold that lol, the build quality looks great so I'm hoping it feels as good as it looks.

    Under $100 is also crazy good. But I did some reading on the chip used in these, the RK3566, isn't particularly great at handling higher end systems (like into sixth gen and onward). So keep that in mind, for whoever is interested.

    It also can only handle some Saturn, at least in the base firmware that came with other Anbernic handhelds using the same chip. Those handhelds have gotten custom firmware since though that run Saturn significantly better, so if the one they ship with this system doesn't handle Saturn well then there's at least that as an alternate option.

    That's pretty much my only hangup, since I'd want this to be my 3rd-5th gen machine. Looking forward to when it comes out! Hope the reviews are high.
     
  6. LordOfSquad

    LordOfSquad

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    And we've got the first comprehensive review in. Here's the quick rundown if you don't have 45 minutes to spare:

    -Ergonomics are great.
    -D-pad is very close feeling to OEM SEGA but not quite, however still a solid D-pad (described as 90% of the way there).
    -Screen and audio is very nice for the price.
    -As anticipated, don't expect this to be the portable Saturn of your dreams. Just think of whatever lightweight Saturn/N64/Dreamcast/PSP stuff that is playable on this thing as bonus games on top of a great Genesis experience. That said...
    -Software/UI is a mixed bag, and you'll want the dual-boot version if you want as many games playable as possible. These sorts of devices are ALWAYS better with community-made software, so hopefully this one takes off on that front.

    If any of you pick one up I hope you'll come back and share your impressions with us! I'd love to bite right now but unfortunately I can't spare cash for extraneous handhelds right now, even budget priced ones like this one. Hoping the software might mature in a few months time by the time I'm ready to scoop one.
     
  7. Azookara

    Azookara

    yup Member
    The reviews all have me pretty stoked. I'm tight on money / am trying to save up, but if I can afford one I'll probably pick one up sooner than later.
     
  8. Sai Start Marker

    Sai Start Marker

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    The D-pad is almost there but not quite, and the chipset is a touch too weak, but it is tempting for sure.
     
  9. LordOfSquad

    LordOfSquad

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    Yeah, I'm hoping it's a big seller so they put out a revision/successor with the rest of the juice it needs for it to be "perfect". I think it sounds like a solid buy for the price point though, especially if something like the Miyoo Mini Plus is still too cramped for you. I probably would be getting one if I didn't have one of those and a PiBoy DMG already.
     
  10. I've been hoping someone would make a six-button device like this for a while, so I ordered one. I got the least expensive one since I don't think I'd ever use the Android environment and wanted to supply my own SD card. The colorways are locked to the model (transparent for the basic ones, opaque for the Android ones), but I wanted the transparent blue one anyway, so it worked out fine for me.

    It uses two micro-SD cards, one for the OS and the other for ROMs. It automatically makes all the directories for the ROM card when you boot it, and it supports up to 512 GB cards, which is nice for the disc-based systems. It also comes with the BIOS files for the Sega CD, Saturn, and Dreamcast, because lol copyright.

    Size comparison to a Game Gear (because I don't have a Nomad) and an Anbernic RG351M:

    IMG_2503.jpeg

    It's definitely not on the smaller side of these retro handhelds, but it feels like a reasonable compromise to avoid having to make the controls too cramped. The build quality feels solid overall. It feels light to me (though I'm used to the RG351M, which is obviously heavier because it's metal). The screen is big and 4:3, so everything looks pretty good on it. The buttons are smaller than a real Saturn controller and feel a lot spongier and worse. It's serviceable, though, and it's definitely way better for playing fighting games with a Capcom-style six-button layout than anything with a four-button layout. I think it's better for Neo Geo fighting games too because of the Sega-style D-pad.

    I was surprised that it has two pairs of shoulder buttons. I expected it to only have one pair, giving it the same amount of action buttons (eight) as devices with the standard four face buttons and four shoulder buttons. But no, it has ten buttons, two more than a Saturn pad. This is handy since (presumably) the extra pair can be mapped to other things like saving or loading save states, taking screenshots, and so forth. There's also a dedicated menu button (some devices, like the RG351M, require you to chord multiple buttons to invoke the menu during gameplay). I was also a little surprised that they didn't add an analogue stick. Obviously, the device is designed to mimic a standard Saturn control pad, which didn't have a stick, but it would've been a sensible addition given that there were a fair few Saturn games that supported analogue control (plus the Dreamcast, of course). I'm not disappointed by the omission, though, since I don't really play 3D games anyway and it's less cluttered without it (and supposedly the performance on 3D games isn't great with the chipset that it has).

    The built-in operating system is not as nice as the community-made OSes I've used on the RG351M, but it's fine and I'll probably get used to it. It acts as a front-end for RetroArch, which is how most of these devices work. From what I've read, it's unlikely to get a community-made OS because apparently Anbernic has made all of developers mad, which is unfortunate, but the standard OS seems fine.

    Blue comparison:

    IMG_2501.jpeg

    It's so blue, it's purple.

    Overall, I think it's very good for its purpose, which is playing games for Sega consoles (probably just 2D games) and playing fighting games in general. I wish it cost more but had better buttons and a better chipset, but it's still pretty good for what it is. I'm glad the retro handheld market has gotten saturated enough that manufacturers are starting to investigate niche devices like this (the Powkiddy RGB30, which has a square aspect ratio screen for vertical shoot-'em-ups, is another recent one that looks cool).

    (Edit: Forgot to mention, but the back of the device is contoured like a Genesis or Saturn controller, which is a cool touch and definitely completes the Sega feel. I also appreciate the little ovals under the D-pad and action buttons, like a Genesis controller.)

    IMG_2504.jpeg
     
    Last edited: Dec 5, 2023
  11. LordOfSquad

    LordOfSquad

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    Thanks for sharing your impressions. Shame about the spongey buttons, they'd probably drive me crazy. Hopefully it sold good enough that they'll come out with an improved model next year.
     
  12. Blue Spikeball

    Blue Spikeball

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    Meh, what's so great about the 6 button layout? Pressing multiple buttons with your thumb is harder and more annoying than with the standard 4 face buttons + shoulder buttons layout.
     
  13. LordOfSquad

    LordOfSquad

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    Street Fighter

    also it's cool.
     
  14. DigitalDuck

    DigitalDuck

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    My hands also have fingers, so I can use the thumb to hold and fingers to press buttons, and a 3x2 layout is very good for my three strongest fingers if it's a game that requires a lot of button pressing (e.g. fighters).

    Also it's cool.
     
  15. Chimpo

    Chimpo

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    +1 Also it's cool
     
  16. Blue Spikeball

    Blue Spikeball

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    Holding the gamepad with the thumb and pressing the face buttons with the fingers? Sounds rather awkward and uncomfortable to me...

    Shoulder buttons are a better place for the index fingers :colbert:
     
  17. Chimpo

    Chimpo

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    What do you mean? Doesn't everyone play games like this?
    [​IMG]
     
  18. People just want to play the games the way they were originally intended, with six face buttons. If you're satisfied adapting the controls to four face buttons and the shoulder buttons, then good for you, because you have a million billion brazilian devices to choose from, not the least of which are every actual game console that is being produced today.

    The Genesis control pad probably has three buttons in a row because three buttons was the JAMMA standard. It was adapted to six buttons pretty much just for Street Fighter II, and the design was carried over to the Saturn. The SNES pad has four face buttons arranged in a cross because the buttons are all equidistant to each other, so they're all easier to reach. The SNES approach definitively won all the way back in 1998 when the Dreamcast switched to it. Nonetheless, the Genesis and the Saturn still exist, along with a bunch of arcade games that use a six-button layout, and some subset of people still want to play them as intended. If I were overly concerned about which approach was considered "best," I wouldn't even be here, I'd be on the retrogaming subreddit talking about Chrono Trigger like everybody else.
     
  19. LordOfSquad

    LordOfSquad

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    Considering the ARC, 4 vs 6 is a bit of a moot point since it also has two pairs of shoulders giving you the freedom the play however the hell you want anyway. I've played plenty of SNES stuff and similar on my PiBoy DMG and Retro-Bit Genesis pads, and the right and middle face buttons are serviceable for diamond-layout shenanigans. The only real bottleneck I've run into was when I was playing PS1 games on my PiBoy, stuff like Megaman Legends can be tricky when one of the shoulder button pairs is also relegated to the front. But again, wouldn't be a problem on the ARC.
     
  20. aria

    aria

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    i saw soned2 supports chaotix five minutes ago
    This seems neat. I'm hoping impressions are good.

    my brother still claws with Souls games to use an unlocked camera for better camera movement, its honestly impressive and what I can best described as a Monster Hunter PSP Moment.