Yes, the Apple Watch and other smartwatches do have games available for those who want to play some games on their wrist. Let’s be honest, though, playing on a tiny screen using a touch controls just doesn’t make for the most enjoyable time. The Retro Gaming Watch gives the modern smartwatch some proper gaming chops.
No, it doesn’t exactly put a Steam Deck on your wrist. Instead, it’s a miniature handheld console that pulls double duty as a smartwatch, so you can use it for timekeeping, sending and receiving messages, and all sorts of other digital functions, allowing you to use it as functional replacement for your favorite smartwatch while being able to play games your Apple Watch can only dream of running.
The Retro Gaming Watch comes with a large square case that, we’ll be honest, makes it one of the ugliest watches you can wear. Seriously. If you’re not put off by the less-than-stylish aesthetics, though, it makes for a really unique product in the space. In watch mode, it shows off the time on a 1.5-inch display with a 320 x 320 resolution and a 60Hz refresh rate, with no physical buttons available, so you’ll have to interact with it using the touchscreen interface. You will also need to pair it with a phone for messaging and alerts, although they do plan to have downloadable apps for other functions.
Of course, the retro gaming element is the main selling point here, as it also doubles as a mini-handheld console. To use it as such, you can take off the watch case from the strap (it has a twist-lock mechanism) and open the clamshell interior it to reveal a second 1.5-inch screen inside, along with a D-pad, four action buttons, and two system buttons. That’s right, you will do your gaming on a secondary inner display.
The Retro Gaming Watch, basically, plays like a gaming handheld from yesteryear, which, truth be told, sounds quite the fun time. According to the outfit, though, they plan to make it playable while worn via a Bluetooth gamepad, although the ergonomics of that doesn’t sound very comfortable. Lastly, they will also offer a dock that lets you use the same gamepad to play it on a TV, in case you want some big screen action. Battery life is estimated at four hours of FPGA gameplay and 48 hours in smartwatch mode.
Inside, it houses FPGA hardware to enable more accurate emulation, which, the outfit claims, will allow perfect recreation of most 8-bit and 16-bit systems. The FPGA is joined by a 160MHz Arm Cortex M33, 1.5MB of fast RAM, 8MB of external RAM, and a dedicated low-power 2D graphics processor, so this thing is built from the ground up with retro gaming in mind. For now, additional sensors are still up in the air, as the emulator function is the main concern, so you can’t quite use it to replace your Apple Watch when it comes to activity tracking and similar health functions.
A Kickstarter campaign is currently running for the Retro Gaming Watch. Pledges to reserve a unit starts at $179. Do note, this project sounds very early in the prototype stages, so this will likely take a while to get done. Make sure to keep that in mind if you decide to make a pledge.