Play Retro Games in All-in-One Joysticks

Plug-and-play classic titles with ease. You don’t even need a game console!

What’s the easiest way to play retro games right now? Emulation requires more computer knowledge than most people have, and retro collections for modern game systems [Hack #16] require you to purchase hundreds of dollars worth of hardware before you can play them.

There is a solution for the rest of us, and it’s more than likely that you’ve already seen them around. Standalone plug-and-play joysticks going by names like TV Games and Arcade Legends have been all over toy and electronics stores for the past few years. These devices run off of AA batteries and plug directly into your television set, containing a handful of games and a joystick all in one compact piece of hardware. You can’t add in any more games, but since most of them retail for between $20 and $25, that’s not such a big deal.

But not all is perfect. Retro gaming hackers have found that some of the games differ substantially from the classic versions. In this hack, I’ll give you some general information on the value and quality of each device, supplemented (where possible) by my own hands-on impressions.


In shopping malls across the United States, especially around Christmastime, it’s not at all uncommon to see kiosks spring up in the middle of the mall selling all-in-one gaming joysticks that play classic Nintendo games like Super Mario Bros. These often go by the name "Power Player” and are ...

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