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Geek Tyrant: My Thoughts on the GameShell from Clockwork

Updated: Sep 6, 2019

Written by Tommy Williams

A couple months ago, I learned about the GameShell. It’s a portable gaming machine that has a modular design and it’s pretty cool. The people at Clockwork were kind enough to send me one to play with and it has been one heck of a ride. I received it, built it (the casing comes in plastic runners like a model kit), and started it up. It seemed to work flawlessly. I loaded up a ROM to test the emulator capabilities and it worked just fine except I had gone with a Nintendo layout instead of an Xbox button layout that it was trying to use. This started a lot of hard work to try to get it to let me change the button layout in the emulator settings.

I mention this because I’m sure a lot of you are wanting to run emulators on a GameShell. I ended up making it so that the emulation didn’t work. I could get some of the preloaded games to work fine, but the emulators were kaput. I tried following some guides to properly configure the buttons and then fix my problems, but nothing worked until the other day when I finally had time to work on it again (life got crazy for a bit) and I said, “screw it.” I pulled out the microSD card, formatted it, and flashed the latest OS for GameShell. With the new OS, there’s a cool feature that lets you change the button layout for the launcher and then apply said change to the emulators. Now, everything works fantastic on the emulator side of things. My only complaint is that for some reason, things still say to press the B button which is my A button. I’ll learn to deal with it.

Now, if emulation is not your thing, there’s still plenty to do on this. The GameShell comes with preloaded games that are a lot of fun like OpenTyrian! Of course, you can always create your own games for this beast as well. In fact, I’m not really a programmer (I have dabbled in the past) and this has made me want to try my hand at making a game.

Enough about the software though. Let’s talk hardware. Everything is solid. Yes, a lot of the pieces are plastic, but they’re sturdy. The screen is bright and looks good. The CPI Mainboard is not the most powerful piece of computing power out there, but it’s not designed to be. It’s great at what it does. The speakers are pretty good too. I will admit that the buttons and D-pad aren’t my favorite, but they’re not terrible. My biggest thing right now is that I wish there was more hardware for the GameShell to take advantage of the modular design. I would love it if they released more modules like maybe a larger battery or something. I love modular designs, but right now the GameShell doesn’t seem to be taking full advantage of it. Hopefully, we’ll see more in the future.

I will warn you that there is quite a learning curve if you don’t regularly do programming or modding work. That being said, the community can be helpful most of the time in sorting out your problems or giving you advice. If you’re into either emulation on the go, indie games on the go, or even programming games, you should really consider saving up for a GameShell from Clockwork.

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