RK Console RK2020 retro handheld gaming device review

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REVIEW – I have fond memories of playing Atari 2600 games, Game Boy games, Atari Lynx, and even the original PSP gaming device. Although our smartphones have much better displays and horsepower than those gaming systems from decades ago, I still feel like those old games were a lot more fun. If you have similar feelings and would like to relive some of those old games, I have a fun little handheld from RK Console. It’s the RK2020 retro handheld gaming device. Let’s check it out.

What is it?

The RK2020 is a small handheld gaming emulator device that features a 3.5 color display and physical controls for authentic gameplay.

What’s in the box?

  • RK2020 Console
  • Extra joystick cover
  • Micro SD card 32GB
  • Micro SD card reader
  • USB-C charging cable
  • User manual

Hardware specs

OS: Retro Arch
CPU: RockChip RK3326 (Quad-Core ARM Cortex-A35 1.3GHz)
GPU: Mali-G31 Dvalin
Memory: 1GB (DDR3L 786Mhz, 32 Bits bus width)
Storage: SPI Flash(16Mbytes Boot), External Micro SD Card slot with Firmware installed
Display: 3.5inch 320×480 IPS screen
Audio: Earphone Jack
Battery: Li-Polymer 2600mAh
Input Buttons: D-pad, A, B, X, Y, shoulder buttons: L1/L2, R1/R2, Analog joystick, Select, Start, Power-on
Ports: USB type C for charging, USB type A for WiFi Dongle/ External Controller, external Micro SD slot

Design and features

The size, design, and button layout of the RK2020 is very good. There is a D-pad and a joystick on the left side and A, B, X, Y, select, and start buttons on the opposite side.

The case on the unit that I was sent is a semi-transparent purple that looks pretty awesome in my opinion.

The top edge has an L, L2, R, and R2 buttons on the corners and a small power button. There is also a 3.5mm headphone jack, a USB-C charging port, and a USB A port if you want to add optional accessories.

On the bottom edge is the microSD card slot that is used to hold the OS and game ROMs. There’s also a tiny button which I’m guessing is a reset switch although the included instruction sheet does not mention it.

In hand, the unit feels sturdy, but the buttons rattle if you shake it.

The display is bright and crisp but you don’t want to compare games on this device to games on your phone because the games you’ll be playing on this device have graphics from a long time ago… which means a lot of the games are pretty pixelated. But that’s where a lot of the charm comes from. That and the old school game theme songs.

Ready, set, let’s play!

The RK2020 supports the following game ROMs: PSP, DC, N64, PSX, Atari2600, Atari5200, Atari7800, Atari Lynx, Game Gear, GB, GBA, GBC, master system, Megadrive, NES, PC Engine, PC Engine CD, and Sega CD. Luckily, it comes with a microSD card that already has 227 different games for most of the available formats. I’m not going to list all of the games on the system, but some of them include:

N64: Donkey Kong, Mario Kart 64, Star Fox 64

Sega Master System: Metal Gear Solid, Pokemon – Crystal Version, Legend of Zelda

GBA: ChipAdvance, Defender Advance, Frogger, Mine-Sweeper

When you power on the RK2020 it takes a few seconds for it to load the emulator. But from there you can scroll through the devices that it supports and see the individual game lists. When you select a game, it’s loaded and that’s where the fun starts.

It’s Mario!

And Zelda!

One of my all-time faves from back in the day was Chips Challenge because I enjoy puzzle style games more than action games.

It’s worth mentioning that you can’t use both types of navigation buttons with all games. It’s typically either/or. Also, not all games use the shoulder buttons. And when some games tell you to press the Select button, it really wants/needs you to press the A button. I guess that’s the fun of it though – figuring it out.

Playing the games that come with the RK2020 is fun, but you’re not limited to just those games. You can download more game ROMs (google ROMs to find them) to install on the RK2020’s microSD card. The steps to do aren’t just to drag and drop the ROM files on the memory card though. Since the RK2020 uses a Linux file system, you have to install a 3rd party application called Paragon Linux File System in order to mount the drive on your Windows machine and from there you can drag and drop the ROM files into the correct emulation folder for the gaming console.

I will also say that there are a LOT of customizations and settings that you can change in the menus, but again, there is absolutely no documentation on these settings in the instructions that come with the device or on the RK2020 website. For the most part, you’re on your own with this device.

What I like

  • Size
  • Nice selection of controls
  • Bright vivid display

What I’d change

  • Doesn’t support TV output
  • Audio quality is pretty bad through the built-in speaker
  • No physical volume button
  • Needs more documentation, especially on how to add more ROMs

Final thoughts

If you’re really into playing games from a few decades ago, you’ll most likely love the RK2020 as long as you don’t mind a lack of documentation and don’t need to connect it to a TV. The fact that it comes with 227 games is a real plus for someone that doesn’t know anything about emulators, ROMs, and how to load/install them but just wants to play some old school video games. But for those who do know about emulators, this little device can be a lot of fun.

Price: $75.99
Where to buy: Amazon
Source: The sample for this review was provided by RK Console.

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6 thoughts on “RK Console RK2020 retro handheld gaming device review”

  1. Gadgeteer Comment Policy - Please read before commenting
  2. I wanted to love this. As I either currently own, or have at some point owned every handheld system. I ended up returning mine, but it’s ALMOST there.

    The Good.
    First the electronics, for the price point the hardware does a good job on N64 games. This has been a major limitation in most handheld emulators in the sub $200/250 category. The software appears stable, although suffers from bad Chinese to English translations. But let’s be honest, based on the price point we are expecting this.

    The Bad.
    Build Quality control. I tried 2 units, and then got a refund. Both units suffered the same problem. Poor construction of dpad and buttons. One unit didn’t have “left” Which if I only every played mario side scrollers I could live without a left. The other units also had failures in the buttons, requiring very hard presses to get a reaction. Now if you are a hobbiest and don’t mind a little tinkering these are not major problems to fix yourself.

    All in all it’s ALMOST there. I will wait for the 2021 model (why in the world would you use 2020 in the name, I mean we all want to forget 2020!!!!) I did return it I wanted it specifically for the ability to play N64 games smoothly which it DOES. My goto handheld is a first generation GPD XD now about 5 years old. I’ve been toying with the latest version but at $250+ it’s a bit more pricey.

    In a nutshell, If you are handy and willing to fix the button problem. It could be a decent unit for ~$75.

      1. Thats great, I got 2 bad units. I’ll probably try it again when a new model comes out. Because I’m a freak and obsessed with handhelds.

  3. I still have my original PSP from way back, although it’s been “homebrewed”. It can (sometimes) play different older console games on it, but can be buggy.

    For me, it would be a toss-up between fixing the firmware I have or embracing all these new old-school handheld devices. Shame there’s no official way to have them all on one device.

  4. Do not install or use Paragon Linux File system. It will eventually corrupt the SD card and it known to cause other issues with using SD cards. Please use a Linux VM instead. You can get ready made ones at osboxes.org.

  5. I would not recommend putting the link to the console from amazon. Since this is a Chinese handheld other company’s can buy the rights to manufacture an older crapyer version and sell it on amazon or aliexpress. I would recommend you put the link to RKconsoles website or retro mimi so the get the best highest quality version

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