5 Best Retro Handhelds That Play GameCube Games in 2022

Zelda? Metroid Prime? WWE Day of Reckoning? Find out which handheld systems can play GameCube games in 2022.

The GameCube doesn’t get anywhere near the right level of love it deserves. Mario Kart Double Dash, Zelda: Twilight Princess, Metroid Prime, Animal Crossing, WWE Day of Reckoning – the list of stellar games is near-endless.

So whether you’re looking to catch on games you missed or replay some of the all-timers, here are five of the best retro handhelds that play GameCube games in 2022.

Retroid Pocket 2 Plus

Retroid's Retroid Pocket 2 emulator console

Retroid Pocket 2 Plus

The Android-based Retroid Pocket 2 Plus excels at emulating up to PS1, and thanks to clever engineering, can handle light GameCube games as well as DS titles. 

Specifications

  • Chipset: Unisoc Quad-core Tiger T310
  • RAM: 2GB LPDDR4
  • Storage: 32GB eMMc
  • Android 9
  • Connectivity: Wi-Fi 2.4G and 5G + Bluetooth 5
  • Battery 4000mAh
  • Screen Size: 3.5-inch touchscreen
  • Resolution: 480p

Price: $99/£144

The Retroid Pocket 2 Plus is without question the least powerful entry on this list. And with little power, comes little compatibility.

In theory, the Retroid Pocket 2 Plus shouldn’t be able to play GameCube games. It’s a system that’s geared to take on up to 32-bit consoles. Yet – somehow – the Retroid Pocket 2 Plus can run select GameCube games. It’s honestly a testament to the clever clogs over at Retroid.

Compatibility isn’t going to be anywhere near 100 percent. If you’re planning on playing Pokemon XD or fast-paced racing games, the Retroid Pocket 2 Plus isn’t the console for you.

But if you’re looking to play the lesser-powerful GameCube games – think Mario Kart Double Dash or Luigi’s Mansion – then for the price, you really won’t go wrong with this device. The Retroid Pocket 2 really is one of the best handheld emulator consoles out there.

Aya Neo Pro

Aya Neo Pro console from 2021, by Aya.

Specifications

  • CPU: AMD Ryzen 7 4800U
  • GPU: AMD Radeon Graphics
  • RAM: 16GB Dual-Channel LPDDR4x
  • Storage: 1TB High-Speed PCI-E NVMe SSD
  • Screen: Seven-inch H-IPS touchscreen display
  • Connectivity: Wi-Fi 6E & Bluetooth 5.1

Price: $1,215/£1,249

Thanks to what are essentially obscene specs, the Aya Neo Pro is a very capable machine.

When you’ve got a 1TB SSD paired with the Ryzen 7 and Radeon Graphics, and there’s a meaty 16GB of RAM on offer, you know this thing is a beast.

So yes, it’s one of those retro handhelds that play GameCube games and has enough power to play a host of systems while you’re at it. Plus as it’s a Windows handheld, that means emulator compatibility is top-notch. If it works on Windows, chances are it’ll run on the Aya Neo Pro without much hassle.

The downside, of course, is the high buy-in price. Yes, it’s very powerful, but anything over the $1000 mark is going to get compared with the Steam Deck or Odin Pro – both of which offer more attractive price tags.

I’d also recommend holding off on the Aya Neo Pro as of right now, simply because the company behind the console has the more powerful Aya Neo Next and the more affordable Aya Neo Air in the pipeline.

While the newer, more powerful consoles will cost around the same price as the Aya Neo Pro, I’m very interested to see what the Aya Neo Air, which boasts the AMD Ryzen 5 5560U Zen 2 in the cheapest model, is capable of.

GPD XP Plus

GPD XP Plus Android console

GPD XP Plus

The portability of a mobile device married to the power of a high-end emulation machine, the GPD XP Plus is a pocket-sized powerhouse.

Specifications

  • CPU: MediaTek Dimensity 1200, 8 Core
  • GPU: ARM Mali-G77 MC9 @900MHz
  • RAM: 6GB LPDDR4
  • Storage: 128GB UFS 3.1
  • Screen: 6.81-inch
  • Heat Dissipation: Single fan with active heat dissipation
  • Wi-Fo: 2.4 G / 5 G dual-band Wi-Fi 6
  • Mobile Wi-Fi: 4G/3G/2G
  • Charging: USB-C
  • Memory Card: Micro SD
  • Battery Capacity: 7000mAh (up to 12 hours on Android games)

Price: $374/£297

Due in 2022, the GPD XP Plus has a lot going for it. Firstly, it’s set to be the most powerful Android console on the market. And yes, that includes the Odin Pro. From a power point of view, it’s unbeatable without getting into Aya Neo price territory.

GameCube on the GPD XP Plus looks to be off to a strong start. Soul Calibur II runs at a stable framerate, which is always a good test to see what is and isn’t capable. In my experience, if Soul Calibur runs this well, games like Metroid Prime and Mario Kart Double Dash should, in principle, be able to run without any problems as well.

The beautiful thing about the GPD XP Plus is it’s not just GameCube this system can run. PS2 is also looking good, and while 100 percent compatibility isn’t a given, there’s a lot of promise in that department.

The only glaring issue I have with the GPD XP Plus is how games are going to scale to that 6.81-inch screen.

The GPD XP Plus is designed to look like a phone, and fitting games with a 16:9 or 8:7 ratio is going to be difficult. Yes, there are widescreen options for the older systems to fix that issue, but will the GPD XP Plus be powerful enough to stretch GameCube games all the way across the screen, or are black bars on the screen going to be a fixed feature of this device?

Of course, we won’t be able to answer any of that until the GPD XP Plus launches later this year.

Odin Pro

The Odin Pro console from Ayn.

Ayn Odin

Arguably the most sought-after console out there, the AYN Odin delivers the best bang for your buck any way you slice it. 

Specifications

  • CPU: Qualcomm Snapdragon SD845 |  Quad-core Kyo Gold at 2.8GHz, quad-core Kyro Silver at 1.8GHz
  • GPU: Adreno 630
  • RAM: 8GB LPDDR4
  • Storage: 128GB
  • Screen: 5.98-inch IPS LCD dragontrail touchscreen
  • Aspect Ratio: 16:9
  • Resolution: Up to 1080p at 1080×1920
  • Video Output: HDMI, display port
  • Connectivity: 2.4G, 5G, Wi-fi 802.11 (a/b/g/n/ac/), Bluetooth 5.0
  • Operating System: Android 10.0
  • Size: 224 by 95 by 15
  • Battery: 6000mA

Price: $396/£318

The Odin Pro is currently the retro gaming darling and it’s easy to see why. This thing is as premium as they come but it lacks the usually-expected high buy-in price.

It’s a comfortable console, too. When you first feel the Odin Pro, any thoughts of cheap, mass-produced devices fade away. Buttons are responsive, triggers have the right amount of pop,  and the screen on this thing is crisp. It is without question one of the best retro handhelds that play GameCube games out there.

Not only that, there’s also some compatibility when it comes to Wii and PS2, which is genuinely astounding at this price point.

Steam Deck

Valve's Steam Deck console

Steam Deck

The current King of emulation, the Steam Deck offers up unrivaled performance alongisde an achievable price tag. 

Specifications

  • Processor: AMD APU
  • CPU: Zen 2 4c/8t, 2.4-3.5GHz (up to 448 gigaFLOPS FP32)
  • GPU: 8 RDNA 2 CUs, 1.0-1.6GHz (up to 1.6 teraFLOPS FP32)
  • RAM: 16 GB LPDDR5 onboard RAM (5500 MT/s quad 32-bit channels)
  • Storage Options: 64 GB eMMC/256 GB NVMe SSD/512 GB high-speed NVMe SSD
  • Display: 1280 x 800 pixels (16:9)
  • Type: Optically bonded IPS LCD for enhanced readability
  • Screen size: seven-inches
  • Refresh rate: 60Hz
  • Touchscreen: Yes

Price: $399/£349

We all knew this was coming. The Steam Deck is the go-to device for retro enthusiasts. It’s pricey, sure, but compared with other Windows handhelds like the Aya Neo, it’s not astronomically priced.

And when it comes to what the Steam Deck can emulate, the list is long. GameCube, Wii, PS2 – hell, even the Xbox 360 makes an appearance on the Steam Deck. That’s how freakishly powerful it is.

Plus, while the Odin can offer up Android games out the box, the Steam Deck has a vast library of PC games to draw from.

Of course, that could change with the introduction of the Ayn Loki, but for now, the Steam Deck is the handheld console of choice purely because of how many different types of games you can play on this monster.

Also, if you need any help getting emulators up and running on Steam Deck, we’ve got a detailed guide covering how to set up EmuDeck on Steam Deck.

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What You Need to Consider with GameCube Games on Handheld Devices

It’s a funny realisation, but retro handhelds can be split into two camps: ‘Up to PS1’ and ‘above PS1’.

The reason being a lot of the cheaper systems, those around the $100/£100 mark, rely on older chipsets, most notably the RK3326.

The RK3326 chipset allows for up to PS1 emulation with minimal issues. The problem, however, is it’s not capable of much more than that. If you want to play GameCube, Wii, or PS2, you’re going to need something more powerful under the hood, ideally something with a high-end processor and graphics solution.

That’s why so many companies are turning to the Ryzen 7 or the Qualcomm Snapdragon SD845. The extra power really does open up more possibilities in the emulation space.

So, when you’re picking out a retro handheld with the intention of playing GameCube games, even if it says it can, be sure to check whether the specs match the claim.

Can The Anbernic RG552 or RG351P Play GameCube Games?

The Anbernic RG552 can’t play GameCube games. The reason being it’s simply not got the power to do so.

Technically, yes, you can load up GameCube games on the RG552, but the experience is miserable. With the right tweaking, you may be able to get the lower-specced games to run, but on the whole, I wouldn’t recommend it. Anbernic makes great systems when we’re talking about up to PS1, but outside of that, there aren’t many options.

As for the RG351P, the answer is a hard no. The RG552 is more powerful than the RG351P, and if that can’t run GameCube games smoothly, there’s no way the less powerful RG351P is going to get the job done.


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Wesley Copeland

Wesley Copeland is a gaming and tech journalist with over 10 years of experience writing online. Originally starting in video games before specializing in tech and toys, you can find his bylines at IGN, VG24/7, Kotaku, Tech Radar, Games Radar, PC Gamer, and many more. He's also highly passionate about how tech can be used to better our day-to-day lives.