In a world where new games and exciting hardware rumours rule the internet, it’s hard to believe that there is a market for fake consoles. It’s a strange sentence to write and an even weirder notion to think about; who in their right mind plays these fake consoles, and why do they even exist?
In a society where learning how to install ROMs is just as important as passing your end-of-year-exams, the number of ways in which we can play our favourite games increases every day. But do us all a favour and use one of the best Retropie handhelds or one of our favourite best retro handhelds instead of the monstrosities in this list; we’d all sleep much easier at night if you did.
So why are we taking a break from bringing you breaking news about the N64 Mini, the PS2 Mini, the Creoqode Lyra, or the Retron Jr?
Well, think of this as a public service announcement, a warning to the dangers of fake consoles that are infiltrating living rooms across the globe.
It’s a virtual pamphlet that you can give to your granny to make sure that she gets you the right Nintendo Switch Lite Accessories for your birthday instead of some cheap plastic knock-off that will make you erupt like Death Mountain, your fiery hatred destroying everyone around you and forcing you to start a Cabin Clan in Kokiri Woods.
Usually, we write these top 10 lists in a specific order, but not today. The numbers are just there for show; these fake consoles are all pretty bad, but it’s our job, nay, our duty, to inform you of their presence. Prepare to be underwhelmed, outraged, and feel a little bit dirty.
10. The PolyStation 2
I couldn’t decide whether to leave this one till last, but out of all of the fake consoles, this one makes my blood boil the most.
The Playstation 2 was a console that defined a generation, brought some of our most beloved characters to the forefront of gaming, worked like a charm, and even had a little logo that you could tilt depending on whether you had the console positioned vertically or horizontally.
This imposter, its full title being the ‘mini PolyStation 2001’, with its cheap plastic controller with a volume knob (what’s that all about), and Microsoft Word text, is the kind of stuff that could ruin Christmas Day forevermore. The even weirder thing is that people bought this rubbish, and sales were actually pretty good for a while.
How they got away with using the PlayStation logo I’ll never know. If you have glaucoma and squint a little, then this thing looks just like the PS2, which means that the makers must be in breach of about one-hundred-thousand copyright laws.
Still, many kids in the 2000’s had one of these 8bit wonders. It ran off AA batteries, and that pull-out disc tray was actually a screen.
Is this a handheld, I hear you cry? If by handheld you mean a lump of plastic with a screen that hardly works, then yeah, it is. The PolyStation had a slot in the back to store a controller and sometimes came with an XBOX controller instead of one that replicated the PS2 design. I mean…why?
9. Nintendo Switch Vita
I’m only on number 9 and I’m already too angry to carry on. Give me a second while I have a cup of tea and calm down.
This Nintendo Switch Vita is, for want of a better word, pants. It looks like a PSP, plays like an old floppy disk game, feels as cheap as reduced penny sweets, and doesn’t have removable controllers.
Yes, you can play some of your favourite old games on it, but just buy a GBA on eBay for $40 and play them properly. We tried playing Crash Bandicoot on this thing and almost threw it against the wall in anger.
It has a camera which doesn’t work brilliantly, the buttons feel like something from a child’s playset, and the analog sticks are very poor.
There’s too much plastic in the world as it is, so we should do the world a solid and not add more broken shards to our local landfill dump.
The Nintendo Switch Vita has its benefits; a bright screen, it fits nicely in your hands, and at a push, it could be used to stabilise a wonky table. We’d much rather crank up our trusty GBC and kickstart some of best GameBoy Color games on a reliable handheld that doesn’t buffer every time the character moves.
This is a device that you would play once, throw in the back of a drawer, forget exists, go to play again ten-years-later, find that the battery is dead, and give to the cat to play with.
8. Rodrigo Elec
WHY! Why is this even a thing! The next waste-of-space on our list of the worst fake consoles is this fake XBOX, known to its pals as the ‘Rodrigo Elec’.
It comes with a whopping 10million games, which is just 80 games that we’ve all played before copied 125’000 times. Not only is that a waste of everyone’s time, but it’s also a blatant lie, which means that there is already a special place reserved in gaming hell for this plastic charlatan.
At first glance it looks kind of cool (by glance I mean the initial millisecond your eyes take to process it), looking a little bit like a SpiderMan gaming console from the future.
Turns out it’s cheap, scratched straight out of the box, has screw holes on show, and is basically a lump of bendy plastic hiding a Famicom cartridge. That ‘X’ even flips up to add to the overall ‘tacky-ness’, if that’s even a word.
This fake XBOX only costs £20, but think of all of the things that you could spend that on instead. You could purchase a couple of cookbooks or a sandwich toaster; give it to a homeless person so that they can buy a cup of coffee and a meal; or pay someone to kick you until you cry, thus recreating the same feeling you will have when you turn the Rodrigo Elec on.
If, however, you have more money than sense and want to add Rodrigo to your friend’s list, then you can scout eBay to your heart’s content. The console has since been discontinued, which can only be a win for humankind.
7. Nintendo WiNi
Give me a break…
If you’ve read my articles before, then you’ll know how much of a Nintendo nerd I am. I’ve had every console, worn out every handheld, and the Wii was one of the most exciting gaming inventions of my teens.
The Wiimote control was revolutionary, allowing people with zero gaming experience to replicate their TV-remote-waving and suddenly swing a sword or shoot an evil henchman.
Thanks to Nintendo eventually getting their stock supplies right, you can now pick up a Wii for about £15, so when we discovered the Nintendo WiNi for $50, we died a little inside.
Fair play to the makers, they have gone above and beyond to make this brand of fake consoles look EXACTLY like the original. From the silver stand to the button-heavy WiNimotes (sigh), they’ve tried to replicate the same style, feel, and appeal of Nintendo’s best selling console.
You even get little attachments for your controllers to make you feel as though you’re ‘actually’ playing the sports in real life.
It’s just a shame that the 48 games that come with it are about as exciting to play as Russian Roulette with a fully-loaded cartridge of poison-coated bullets dipped in acid.
The fonts, the colours, and the little people on the front of the box are all so reminiscent of the Wii branding that the likeness is scary, but luckily for us, the WiNi will never live up to the real deal.
If you were ever tricked by this discount-supermarket special, then shame on you. If you weren’t hoodwinked but still want to know what it felt like, then you can grab one from eBay. They’re pretty rare though, so you’ll need to keep a lookout for one if you’re dead set on trying the WiNi in your own home.
6. PolyStation 1
Oh yes; there are four of them.
I know what you’re thinking, but the answer is no; the gun isn’t there so that you can shoot yourself when you realise that you’ve spent your money on the wrong classic console. If I’m being honest, which is what I’m paid to do, this doesn’t look too bad.
It’s a little like the streamlined PS1 and is nice and portable, and it played Nintendo games instead of PlayStation titles, which was a good thing for any die-hard Mario fans out there.
Still, it’s utter rubbish, a cheap plastic super-spy built in a factory to confuse your poor mother who searched day and night to get you the right console for your birthday and ended up splitting your soul into a thousand Horcruxes in the process.
Whoever the mysterious makers of the first PolyStation were, they managed to distort the PS logo using GIMP, used Times New Roman as the font on the buttons, added 10’000 replicas of the same couple of games, and finally pumped it out onto shelves for people to buy.
And you know what; people actually bought this pile of…well, they bought it. It sold thousands and thousands of units and then filled thousands and thousands of bins the very next day.
5. PolyStation 3
Let’s just go through the whole family and get them out of the way.
Up next on our list of the worst fake consoles to ever use the earth’s resources in vain, is the PolyStation 3, another Famicom cartridge in disguise.
I’m not sure how or why the brains (if you can call them that) behind the PolyStation series thought that putting the same poor gameplay and labyrinth of lies inside updated plastic shells would be a good business model, but there’s no doubt that it has made them a pretty penny over the years.
The PolyStation 3 was released before the real PS3 launched, so if you were one of those annoying brats that had to have something before everyone else did, then you could pretend that your dad worked for Sony and that he’d brought you one home to test out.
The chance arrival of your friends at the door and the conversation that followed would go something like this; “No, I can’t turn it on, it’s resting. Yes, it’s real. No, I can’t show you. Why? Because you don’t have the correct security clearance. It’s got ‘Tekren 3′ and’ Grind Feft Auto’ on it,” and so on.
The PolyStation 3 had the same screen as the PolyStation 2, still about as useful and enjoyable as a chocolate teapot with a bomb inside it, and could also be plugged into your TV if you wanted to see what real disappointment looked like.
I just don’t get why people parted with their money for this thing, but they did, in their thousands.
Maybe I’m the one who has got it all wrong (I’m not), but I just can’t see what’s so special about it. This third monstrous resurrection also came with a plastic gun that you could knock yourself out with, which I suppose stops it from being a total waste of money.
The games were so bad even the Nintendo WiNi refused to be in the same room as it, and the controllers might as well have been jam-jar lids with buttons drawn on in marker pen ink.
4. PolyStation 4
Same old crap, different name. I don’t need to explain the same thing again, so I’ll give you a tip instead. If you want to make your own range of fake consoles, then follow the recipe below.
- Copy your favourite console using a 3D printer, but make sure that the case is scratched or, even better, cracked when you’re finished.
- Use precious time and energy printing a box that makes the product look incredibly sub-standard – this is key.
- Stick a Famicom cartridge in there somewhere, but make it easy to pull out so that you can save it when you smash your console up.
- Add a couple of rubbish controllers using leftover bits of plastic, throw in a gun with a wire that’s too short, and maybe a pretend memory card. Make sure none of them work, not even a little bit.
- Copy the branding of the parent company almost exactly, making a minute change that definitely wouldn’t hold up in court. The law is for losers.
- Finally, put it on the internet but don’t claim ownership of it; lawyers can’t trace the disappointment and heartache that your buyers will feel back to you that way.
Let’s move on.
3. The ‘GBA GameBoy’
Seriously now, this is starting to get ridiculous. The next entry on our list of the worst fake consoles on the market today has so blatantly ripped off one of our favourite Nintendo classics that it has actually used the exact same name on the branding!
I’m no expert when it comes to legal matters, but even I know that that’s not cricket (an English expression that means something is ‘100% NOT ON!’).
The GBA Gameboy has the title of GameBoy advance on the box, with pictures of Mario, Bowser, and Yoshi getting up to their usual tricks. The box looks pretty pro, claiming that the device is 32bit, and the whole thing looks pretty well presented. It’s the equivalent of you being catfished and finding yourself out on a date with Freddie Krueger, just made of plastic and more of an eyesore – apparently some people like the psycho look.
In all fairness, this GBA knock-off does do what it says on the tin. It’s backlit and plays GB, GBA, and GBC ROMs pretty well. It’s just a shame it looks so bad.
Why, for instance, does this GBA have PlayStation buttons on it? WHY? There’s no need to put any symbols on there at all; why go to all this trouble to hoodwink us and then make it look so terrible? If you’re looking for something to play GBA & GBC games on, then get the GameBoy 1UP instead – it actually works and looks good too!
2. Family Pocket ‘Fake Wii U’
The Wii U had its good points, but not enough to make the console a rip-roaring success. It was the stepping stone from the Wii to the Switch, which meant that it was a necessary bit of tech to get us to where we are today.
You can pick up a Wii U on eBay for a reasonable sum of money, giving you access to tonnes of classic titles from the N64, Wii, GameCube, and more.
The Family Pocket is not, however, a necessary bit of kit that we need to revolutionise handheld gaming; it’s a piece of trash that we should throw into the sea at the earliest convenience. Another pretend Nintendo handheld with PlayStation buttons – it makes my blood boil!
For starters, I don’t know any family that has pockets big enough for this thing to fit inside, unless the family in question is a group of clowns on holiday from the circus. I’m starting to lose my temper, so here is a quick low down of how TERRIBLE this console is.
- The games lag and the graphics tear in places
- The buttons get stuck, or just don’t work at all
- It’s not a real Wii U
- You can’t play Zelda on it
- The speakers are terrible
- It’s not a real Wii U
- The analogue sticks spin and pop out
- The casing feels cheap
- IT’S NOT A REAL WII U!
If you’re specifically in the market for a fake $25 Wii U, then head over to Amazon to pick one up. Just don’t blame us if you buy one of these fake consoles for your kids and they hate you forever.
I’ve saved the best till last because this story is just insane. WikiPad, based in California, is trying to sue Nintendo because they claim that the gaming giants have stolen their idea for a handheld with a removable controller.
This ‘PlayStation verified handheld’ that uses the layout from an XBOX controller and plays Nintendo ROMs, looks like a SEGA Game Gear on steroids, and it’s not a good look. It’s an amalgamation of all of the consoles that we used to play as a kid, albeit a warped representation that would make young children shriek with terror.
The console is essentially a tablet that can be removed from what looks like one of those early steering wheels you could use on a PC. Nothing about it is wireless, it’s clunky, it’s heavy, and it’s nothing like a Nintendo Switch. I don’t think Nintendo will lose too much sleep over this one.
There are some merits to being able to play your favourite games on a tablet…Nah, who am I kidding; it’s pointless. The whole reason you want a handheld is to be able to play with buttons and joysticks, otherwise, you could just buy an old HTC and download ROMs onto that.
This is a tablet with a weird attachment that is poorly designed and far too large to be enjoyable. The best thing about this console; it comes in a nice looking box. You could reuse said box to store precious family photos inside or letters from your gaming pen pal, which is perhaps the only saving grace.
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Seb Santabarbara has bought every Nintendo console that has ever been released in his 31 years on Planet Earth. His favourite game franchise is Zelda, and he’s patiently waiting for Banjo-Kazooie to come back to the fold. When he’s not playing games, he’s travelling the world in his self-converted camper van.