Important Importables: GP2X handhelds

January 29, 2012 - 3:00 am No Comments

Hot Japanese Imports: GP2X handhelds

Gamepark Holdings had an idea. It wanted to create a handheld device that could be used for gaming and other means, but also had no restrictions. The company was made up of workers from GamePark who had originally developed a handheld device of that nature called the GP32, and GamePark Holdings wanted to continue that legacy. So, it decided to create a whole new product line, the GP2X. While I’m sure many of you may have never heard of it, it was an admirable series of open source devices that managed to survive for 10 years before finally going out of business.

Since the three models released, the GP2X, Wiz and Caanoo, all relied on user-created software and games rather than commercially developed apps, all three devices can still be quite useful and viable today. So let’s learn about the devices and see if any are something you’d be interested in acquiring.

What’s a GP2X?

Simply put, the GP2X series are the Korean take on a portable game console. Except it does a lot more than one would expect for a handheld, as it contained a Linux-based operating system, was open-source to allow homebrew apps and supported a number of different media types, including Flash. So while most GP2X units looked like a cross between a Game Boy Advance and a Neo Geo Pocket, it was far more advanced and was capable of things even the DS couldn’t do.

The first unit in the series was the GP2X, which came out in 2005. It played games, apps and media off of an SD card, had a TV output and later models even had a touch screen. It was mainly a homebrew and indie device, with very few commercial games sold for it. Instead, users were encouraged to develop their own software and share it. As you can guess, there are tons of emulators available to allow it to play other, older console and handheld games. It also could play AVI, DixX, MPG, WMA and Xvid video files, as well as MP3 and OGG audio files.

The next system was the GP2X Wiz, which was first released in 2009. It improved upon the prior hardware by adding in a OLED screen, a microphone and built-in flash memory, as well as being smaller than the original device. It lost the TV output ability in the process though. However, it also had 1gb flash memory compared to the GP2X’s 64mb, which helped make up for it. Also, it had a Flash Player 8 functionality included, as well as support for AVI, flv, DivX, mkv, mp4, MPEG4 and Xvid videos, MP3, OGG and WAV audio files and BMP, GIF, JPG and PNG images. The Wiz’s price dropped down to $100 after the next model was released.

That model would be the GP2X Caanoo, which had a relatively short lifespan. It was released in 2010 and production ended in September 2011. The company folded soon after, leaving not even a trace online as its website disappeared from the internet. It’s a shame, because the $149.99 Caanoo was an impressive little device. It could handle 3D visuals, had a microphone built into it, had an OLED resistive touchscreen, has WiFi capabilities if you have the external piece, can have an addtional controller attached, had an accelerometer and vibration effects and, of course, ran a Linux OS. Like the GP2X Wiz, it could play AVI, DivX, MPEG4 and XviD media files, MP3, OGG and WAV audio files and display BMP, GIF, JPG and PNG images. In addition, it had some rudimentary eReader functions and could open TXT and PDF files. It also had AV output. It had no onboard memory for apps though, relying on SD cards to save data and isn’t out-of-the-box compatible with GP2X and GP2X Wiz apps, requiring upgrading users to find a work around or get a new version of the old app.

The GP2X Caanoo can still be found quite easily online for around $150. Play-Asia is even still selling new units. You can probably even find it for less than that, if you’re willing to do some searching. The GP2X and GP2X Wiz will be a bit harder to find. If you’re willing to take to eBay, you should be fine and should easily find a Wiz or Caanoo.

So what can you play on your GP2X handheld?

While there is an online game store called FunGP, which is still online despite the demise of the GP2X Wiz and Caanoo, the beauty of the GP2X line is that they’re open source. This means there are tons of free games available to download and enjoy. FunGP allows users access to both paid and free apps, so it’s a good place to start before searching the rest of the internet. You do have to buy FunGP G-Money cards in order to actually shop at the FunGP store. Play-Asia does sell 20,000G cards.

Here are a handful of games to initially consider:

  • Deicide

  • Frozen Bubble: It’s a Bust-a-Move clone where you launch colored bubbles up at matching bubbles to make them disappear. There’s no language barrier. It costs 3,000G.
  • Herknights: It’s a side-scrolling action game where you choose a character and beat up enemies. It’s in Korean, but it’s also free so it wouldn’t hurt to test it out.
  • Jelly Mahjong: It’s a puzzle game that requires you to match little jelly characters. It also appears to be in English. It costs 5,000G
  • Jump to the Moon: It’s a Doodle Jump style game where you help an astronaut jump to the moon. There are no language barriers and it is free.
  • Patissier: It’s a puzzle game where you help a young woman navigate a labyrinth, collecting ingredients for deserts, by rotating the area. While it is in Korean, it seems like you can play it without understanding the language. It costs 5,000G
  • Puszion: It’s a matching puzzle game where you pair up similar figures. It’s free and in English.
  • Redemption: It’s an action RPG. It’s also completely in Korean, which may cause trouble if you have to make any decisions. It costs 5,000G.
  • Rhythmos: It’s a basic music game where you hit onscreen indicators to get a high score. It’s in both English and Korean, so you should have no problem playing and enjoying it. It costs 7,000G, but free demo versions are also available.
  • Just keep in mind that some of these games may not be in English, as these are Korean devices.

    Another fantastic resource for games and apps is It offers a wide assortment of games and apps for not only the GP2X, Wiz and Caanoo, but also for its competitors. All you do is click the icon for the handheld you own, and you’re taken to directory filled with free apps, games, emulators, magazines, firmware and also different programs to use your device with your computer. Screenshots are available for almost all apps and games as well, so you’ll know what you’re getting before you download it.

    There’s one more thing to mention. Most people who purchase one of these particular open-source handhelds is to use it to emulate old consoles or computers. There are plenty of emulators available, covering arcade emulators, classic consoles like the NES and also more obscure emulator programs like ones for the TI-92 and Pokemon Mini. While piracy is wrong, these kinds of programs are out there.

    COMING NEXT WEEK: Hot Japanese Imports talks about Marvelous Entertainment.

    IN CASE YOU MISSED IT: Last week Hot Japanese Imports reviewed Katawa Shoujo.

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