Odin Pro is the best way to play PS2, GameCube and Dreamcast

The Odin Pro shows the Android home screen.

photo: kotaku

The Steam Deck undoubtedly reignited people’s interest in handheld gaming on anything other than a Switch. But had it never happened, 2022 would still have been a year full of Switch-sized gaming gear, thanks largely to developments in the world of emulation. At the forefront of this pack is new console creator AYN with his crowdfunded handheld Odin, and he absolutely is terrific.

AYN’s pitch for 2021 was smart. Developed a game device with 6 inch screen Not to run the latest AAA console and PC games, but one capable of emulating previous generations to a standard that the EMU market currently lacked. It certainly proved to be a popular notion: the HK$100,000 (US$12.7,000) crowdfunding goal was blown out of the water, then off the planet entirely, then its grand total reaches over 3.6 million dollars. And then, unlike most crowdfunding gaming companies, the device started shipping pretty much on time.

The early buyers have now received their devices and we are fortunate to have gotten our hands on one thanks to the very good example RetroDodowho lent us theirs! If you want one of your own, you’ll have to wait in line until August – something I immediately went for after spending a morning playing with this one because it’s so damn good. This is the new best way to play your personal collection of retro console games.

A detailed breakdown of every button on the Odin Pro console.

picture: AYN

In fact, there are three different versions of the Odin: Lite, Base, and Pro. A significantly cheaper but significantly less powerful machine, the Lite is priced at just under $200. Without using one, it’s hard to confirm how it holds up against some of the more strikingly impressive Base and Pro emulations, but it’s safe to say it would make for an extremely nice way to play games from N64 and backwards. So similar to the previous generation of emulation machines, like my personal favorite the RG351M, but with a much larger screen and Android OS. But let’s get to the main event, the Odin Base and Pro.

What we have here is a 5.98-inch IPS LCD screen housed in a machine that feels like the beautiful child of a Nintendo Switch and a Sony PSP. Smaller than a Switch, bigger than a Switch Lite and a lot more comfortable to hold than either, it has a Snapdragon 845 and 4GB or 8GB of RAM depending on whether you go Base or Pro. The only other differences between the two are storage and battery life, with 64GB or 128GB of onboard storage and a 5000mA or 6000mA battery, respectively.

This is all housed in a very solid plastic body that feels sleek and expensive. It has analog sticks in the top-left and bottom-right (oh Steam Deck, why couldn’t you?), directional pad in the bottom-left, and standard X, Y, A, B buttons in the top-right. There are two shoulder buttons on either side and a bonus pair of back buttons that sit right where your middle or ring fingers land. It feels nice and heavy but without feeling like a brick, definitely less cumbersome than a Switch or Switch OLED, mainly because it’s a smaller box overall.

The Odin Pro in front of a Nintendo Switch OLED.

photo: kotaku

I won’t pretend to know anything about a Snapdragon CPU, but I do do Do you know that the 845 is a few years old and some might immediately relate to it as the chip you would have found in a Pixel 3. But the good news is that through some sort of evil magic (and cooling fans) the Odin is able to wring so much more out of it, and I’m blown away by the performance. This is the first handheld emulation device I’ve used that can run the classic N64/Dreamcast shoot ’em up. Bangai-O, with its insane processor-hungry action, with no smoke coming out of the sides, let alone smooth as butter. Not to mention its ability with PS2 titles.

The Odin comes with a bespoke version of Android 10 rather than the more common Linux-based operating system found on most Emu machines. That gave me something to think about too, since I found my way around RetroArch and that brought me into lesser-known territory. Turns out I was a big fool because with the Google Play Store right there, you can just download absolutely any emulation software you like. (Including RetroArchalthough I didn’t have the patience to get it to work.) It’s not as neat as having an all-in-one package, but with either the bog-standard Android homescreen or Odin’s own launcher, you can switch between apps without a hitch .

After that, it’s time to raid your personal collection of older games because, as you know, playing games you didn’t buy is piracy. And as I do with every emu device I get, the first thing I did was see if it could run Gold eye.

Oh my god, it can walk Gold eye. Every retro machine claims it can, but it never does. Odin does! Unfortunately, this immediately led to my discovery that a modern twin-stick gaming device doesn’t offer a way to play a game designed specifically for the N64’s wackiest of wacky controllers. Ah great. But hey, it worked!

Equally surprising was how well it handled the PS2 Spiderman 2at least in terms of running at a solid framerate.,Unfortunately, textures kicked in and out like the city was having a fit, making it pretty awkward to play.However, that’s the sort of thing that could possibly fix Enough fiddling below the hood – what was more exciting was how smoothly Spidey moved, climbed and swung through the flickering city.

Dreamcast emulation is handled exquisitely via dreamwhere I finally reached mine Bangai-O Dreams, but also sprinted into it at full speed Sonic adventureand rushed in downhill Crazy cab. These are all games I’ve never really gotten to run properly on a handheld.

The only thing I tried that the Odin couldn’t muster was Outrun 2006 on PS2. Regardless, the PSP version performed extremely well.

The Odin Pro plays Outrun 2006 in PSP emulation.

photo: kotaku

I have seen Videos of people installing Windows 11 on Odin Pro, which runs off its own chip, meaning you can actually install Steam on this thing if you feel the need. This allows you to use the console’s controls that map to Windows’ 360 controller setup for gaming. However, GamePass refuses to install it. But in this linked video Cuphead runs at a constant 51 FPS and even Skyrim managed 45-50.

But with the simplicity of being able to use the Play Store for emulators, and indeed being able to play all your favorite Android mobile games on a gorgeous handheld, I don’t think I feel compelled to move away from this operating system. It’s all so neat that the Odin has instantly become my first way of playing retro games. Except of course that it’s not really mine and I have to return the machine to its rightful owner! Which prompted me to immediately queue for the next production run of the device, due to ship in August.

A quick note on this: I highly recommend getting one through AYN’s website rather than the IndieGoGo. This isn’t as easy as it sounds at first, as Odin’s own homepage directs you back to the IGG, however follow this link and you get it directly from the company. Why? Because you save yourself about $100. For some reason the IGG version can only be bought as part of a “Super Pack” which includes the “Super Dock” and HDMI cable, screen protector, hard case, earphones and a case. The dock sounds great, but I haven’t had a chance to test one yet, and the rest is crap you just don’t need. Pick it up at AYN and it’s currently $239 for the base and $289 for the Pro. (There’s also the Pro 256GB for $328, but the only difference is the extra storage, which you don’t need since you can plug in a micro SD card up to 1TB anywhere.)

The Super Dock can be purchased separately for $68 and lets you dock it like a switch, playing it on your TV via an HDMI connection, along with an Ethernet port, plus five USB outputs for controllers, and most importantly, two proper half-circle ports for your N64 -Controller! That solves the Gold eye Output! Strangest of all, it has room for a 2.5-inch SATA drive on the back, which is downright odd.

Some of the color options for the Odin, white, black, translucent purple and gray with purple buttons.

picture: AYN

I bought an Odin Pro in the summer and am very satisfied. My only annoyance is that I have to return these in the meantime. Going back to my teeny screening anbernic to keep playing GBC will feel like quite a step backwards zelda Games, not to mention all the other generation of 3D consoles it can’t support. And that’s where Brandon “RetroDodo” left Saltalamacchia so generously kotaku borrow his Odin, you could be doing a lot worse than checking out RetroDodo‘s coverage of the Odinand your detailed comparison between the Odin and the Steam Deck.

2022 should be an interesting year for retro consoles hitting the market with bigger screens, but with Anbernic’s RG552 proving to be a disappointment and others just not showing up to the party, AYN has won this hard. The Odin is by far the best way to play emulated games today as PS2, GameCube and Dreamcast emulation finally work on a handheld, with a beautiful screen and all in an incredibly comfortable case. Odin Pro is the best way to play PS2, GameCube and Dreamcast

Curtis Crabtree

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