The upcoming Small Universe X Sugar Cubes emulation handheld will surely be the most unique device you’ve seen all day.
With a rotating OLED display, powerful SOC, and full metal shell; they have certainly created a device that is after my retro gaming heart.
The real question is whether “Small Universe” is the brand and “Sugar Cubes” is the handheld, or the other way around.
Whichever it is, we’re very intrigued by what we have seen in the promotional content posted to Chinese social media [as seen on Neon Rabbit].
So let’s take a look and see why this could be one of the most unique devices in our emulation handheld collection.
Update January 17, 2024: A new video featuring a 3d printed prototype for the Sugar Cubes handheld has been shared to Bilibili. It looks like the laminated IPS screen already has the Sugar Cubes logo printed on it, though this could also just be a sticker. Seeing physical testing being done is a great sign that this device could actually become a reality in 2024.
Small Universe X Sugar Cubes
The Small Universe X Sugar Cubes handheld device has taken much of what we loved in the Powkiddy RGB20S and combined it with the design of the PocketMan P1 metal handheld concept. Which are two awesome starting points if you are trying to create a great vertical gaming device.
The addition of a rotating 3.9 inch (1240×1080) OLED display certainly gives the Sugar Cubes handheld something quite uncommon. That puts the screen at approximately 10×9, which is perfect for Game Boy and Neo Geo Pocket proportions.
This device clearly aims to be a retro handheld focused emulator that can also accommodate familiar 3×2 and 4×3 consoles, as well as vertical (‘Tate Mode’) arcade games thanks to that display rotation feature.
We honestly do not see this rotating feature being entirely useful, considering that the screen’s dimensions are nearly square anyways. But it is surely a unique feature and we kind of like it just for the sake of seeing something new in a handheld.
The Small Universe Sugar Cubes handheld aims to leverage the Qualcomm Snapdragon 888 CPU, which is a 64-bit ARM based chip like familiar Rockchip CPUs used in Linux based handhelds.
That Snapdragon 888 would put the Sugar Cubes handheld in the same power group as devices like the The Retroid Pocket 4 or the AYN Odin2. Which is obviously quite impressive for a pocket-friendly vertical emulation handheld.
But it is also another questionable feature, since the 10×9 display will not be an ideal format for any consoles that utilize a 16×9 format. So that power may be wasted in a device like this.
If you know anything about my own tastes, then you’d know I would like to see this concept without the analogue joysticks and with a more affordable SOC.
Whether or not that rotating display or the performance capabilities are necessary for a device that looks like a fancy Anbernic RG353V is up for debate. But you can’t deny that it looks pretty incredible and all of the small details are unique and cute.
Small Universe aims to offer Sugar Cubes in a wide range of color options, all in glorious aluminum metal shells and buttons.
They obviously had me at “metal shell”. But if Small Universe can deliver agreeable build quality in the Sugar Cubes handheld, I will certainly be one of the first to place an order.
That is the big question in our minds – whether or not the company behind the Sugar Cubes handheld has the ability to deliver what is shown in the promotional materials and with the specs advertised.
Sadly, I see a lot of similarities with the OH WOW handheld, which overpromised and just aimed to capitalize on all of the latest and greatest specs without any ability to deliver a device at that level.
If a company like AYANEO or Anbernic showed us these 3d renders, I’d be foaming at the mouth. But with a company who has no known track record in the emulation handheld scene, we should approach this one with caution.
Pricing and release information has yet to be announced for the Sugar Cubes handheld line. And we do expect to see some changes to the design and specs before it moves forward in physical form.
But I am certainly crossing my fingers with this one and would love to see the Sugar Cubes handheld become a reality. Only time will tell.
Obviously, we will be keeping a very close eye on this one, and will update the Retro Dodo readers as details develop.
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Anthony has been a video game lover ever since he can remember. He became a fulltime nomad in 2018, living throughout most of Asia. He focused his passion in retro gaming and began creating a game for the Game Boy Color while living in Nara, Japan during the 2020 pandemic. He is now in Chiang Mai, Thailand, where he spends most of his time gaming, going on long walks and meeting as many stray dogs as possible.