Review by beastiecube

Reviewed: 07/22/04

The handheld of tomorrow, today!

Game Park 32 BLU

Graphics: 10/10
Sound: 10/10
Design: 10/10
Innovation: 10/10
Battery Life: 9/10
Extras: 10/10
Cost: 10/10

You may be asking yourself, what the hell is a GP32? How can it be so awesome if I’ve never heard of it? First of all, you’ve never heard of it because it’s based in Korea. The handheld isn’t even advertised anywhere else. There has been talk of an eventual European release, but it keeps getting delayed, or canceled, and then put back on. All the games are Korean, and there are very few available for the system to begin with. None of them are particularly spectacular. So what’s so special about this? The GP32 is the most advanced, cost effective, and all around cool handheld anywhere. Hell, it’ll still probably be the coolest and most cost effective even after the Playstation Portable and Nintendo DS come out. It’s not the software that makes this little system so incredible, it’s the hardware. Sit back, and let me tell you a tale of how handhelds should be right now, and how one small Korean company is years ahead of the competition.

The GP32 is graphically the most powerful system currently on the market (at least until the end of this year when the DS and PSP come out). It has a 32-bit ARM-9 processor, which can be over clocked up to 166 MHz right out of the box. It is also the first handheld to implement wireless RF technology. It has 8 megabytes of RAM, and 512k of ROM. It has a three and a half inch screen with 320x240 resolution. The BLU, which is the most recent, comes with a built in back light, which makes the screen very easy to see, even in the dark. The graphics rival or outclass any 2D game on the Super Nintendo, Genesis, GBA, or PC Engine. This means that if developers decided to make games for it, they could be very nice looking.

Sound is another strong point of this little system. It has two large speakers on it, and headphone support. It has 16-bit PCM stereo sound, MIDI support, and 4 channel WAV mixing. If this doesn’t mean anything to you, don’t worry it’s awesome. It can play all your favorite songs, and the game music will be able to kick out some ridiculously funky jams. You won’t be able to find a finer handheld with better music and sound support than the Game Park 32.

The design is absolutely wonderful. It’s my favorite looking handheld out there. At first glance, it looks sort of like a Wonderswan Crystal. On the left of the system’s huge screen is the control pad. It’s more like the directional stick on the Neo Geo Pocket Color than the D-Pad on the Gameboy Advance, but it works awesomely. There isn’t the annoying clicking noise like the NGPC has, and it still offers better controls than the GBA’s tiny D-Pad. It’s a very good combination of the two. Below the control stick is the select button. On the right side of the system are the A and B buttons, and a start button below them. They’re well placed, and spaced out pretty good. On each side of the system is large speaker for good sound support. The top of the handheld has two shoulder buttons much like the GBA, except they are much more comfortable. The power button and USB out (much more on that later) are also on the top of the system. The bottom has three plugs for an AC adapter, EXT peripheral output, and a headphone jack. The back of the system has a slot for multimedia smart cards, which can hold up to 128 megabytes of data. The system is very well designed, and it fits comfortably in your hands. The large screen and backlight make it very easy to see the game you’re playing.

The main appeal of the GP32 is that it is literally years ahead of the competition. Not only can it play standard GP32 games, it has a USB port so you can link it up to your computer and store data on the multimedia smart card. The data can be pretty much whatever you want. There are many free programs online for your GP32 that can turn it into an MP3 player, DivX/XviD movie played, e-book reader, picture viewer, and yes, even a ROMs library. In fact, most people buy it because of the ROMs. There are currently emulators available for the GP32 that allow you to play SNES, NES, GB, GBC and GBA, Sega Mega Drive, Master System, Spectrum, C64, Atari, PC Engine, MAME, MSX, Neo Geo Pocket, and Game Gear among others. The GP32 truly is as lik-sang.com says “The Underground Homebrew System of the 21st Century”. Gamers are free to develop their own games for it and distribute them over the internet to other Game Park 32 owners. This very easily makes up for the lack of traditionally developed
games for the system, and offers an instant library of thousands of games for free.

Battery life is quite good. Without the speakers turned all the way up, the backlight off, and the processor under clocked, the batteries can last as long as 12 hours. On the other end of the spectrum with everything turned on, they may last as little as 6 to 8. The system runs on two AA batteries, which despite all of the energy demanding features, last a fairly long time in the system. For what you can do with the little handheld, the batteries are very good. A rechargeable lithium ion battery option would be nice, but it’s really just a small matter. Maybe in the next upgrade.

Extras, extras, extras! That is what this system is about. I covered most of the extras briefly in the innovation paragraph, but the handheld is really full to the brim with extras. In fact, it’s the extras that really warrant the purchase of the system. Emulation, MP3 playback, books, movies, pictures, homebrew, and free development are what make this system such a joy. Whether you love the classics, want to watch movies on the go, like to make or play indie games, or just want a good multimedia device, you can’t go wrong with a GP32.

For all you get out of this thing, the price is absolutely amazing. A brand new GP32 BLU (backlight edition) runs for a very reasonable $180 on lik-sang.com. You get everything I’ve mentioned above for that cheap price. All of the game systems that you can play on this thing alone would run you far more than that, and when you factor in movies, music, books, and independent games, it’s a steal. If you’re a hardcore gamer, you can’t pass this up. It’s just that good. Do not let this handheld pass you by. It’s one of the best deals for gamers currently out there, and for games on the go there just isn’t anything that I can recommend more. Go out and get a Game Park now!

Final Score (Not an average): 98%

Rating: 10

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