Iain Plays
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Shenzhen Safari Ⅰ

The Best Game Ever, and Jesus #

“The best camera is the one you have with you!”
Jay Maisel, b. 1931 / Chase Jarvis b. 1971

So they say; and since 2008’s 2MP iPhone 3G, I have traded quality for convenience in this fashion; shedding my hip-holstered 6MP Panasonic Lumix DMC-FX01, in favour of an inferior—but ever-present—pocketable fruit.

No, that’s not entirely true.
I flirted with the idea prior to that.
In 2005, I had another…

…camera phone: a VGA (0.3MP) Sony Ericsson K700i.
This phone captured surprisingly good photos in decent light, but paled in comparison to my 3MP Fuji FinePix A303.

A German Choir? #

This Fuji was my first ever digital camera, and I now recall a German choir contacting me to use one of my photos for their album art.
Here it is:

Two Sets of Steps on a Beach #

Two Set of Steps on a Beach

Loss is Portable #

Sadly that first Fuji o’ mine was lost during a night out, around Halloween 2005~6.

I went through at least three more phones (Motorola MPx220, Nokia N95, HTC Hermes) prior to my first iPhone. The aforementioned Lumix prevailed, even occupying a neighbouring hip-holster to my HTC Hermes; with its sliding QWERTY keyboard, stylus, and Microsoft Windows Mobile OS! I was cos-playing an accountant in their fifties hard, while still in my early twenties.

When I became a man, I set aside the Lumix (but retained my costume), and embraced the forbidden fruit; leaving my childish inverse-snob past-self likely aghast.

With peers mocking and scourging, unabashed, I carved my own unique [with millions of others] path, through a golden age of Apple (Snow Leopard through iOS 6). Year-on-year the excitement of an upgraded camera phone experience kept me rapt. Gleefully, waiting in line for the iPhone 4, 4s, 5, 5s, 6 Plus, 6S Plus.

Right on the Dulling Edge #

When I became a man again, I set aside childish incremental upgrades and revelled in having a long-lasting relationship with a phone. The cutting edge, or curve, depending on Apple’s taste du année, dulled; like stale mould with an acrid core in my mouth.

Holding on
tightly to sensations
long-gone. Scratching. Scrambling.
Nails splintered into shards, to keep clear,
this mine of nostalgia; weeping
warmth, and love, and joy,
retreating, as I
desperately brace the tunnel for my next version of adulthood.

A long-held iPhone-ion #

2015 all the way through to 2021 the iPhone 6S Plus was a faithful familiar, tens of thousands of photos, and videos captured, chronicling life, and art, and all between. My 2013 Fujifilm X100S lay neglected, excepting special occasions and flights of fancy.

Yes, I then upgraded to a second-hand scratched-up iPhone SE 2020, (an irresistible eBay bargain), and in 2022 a friend generously gifted me their iPhone 12 mini, which I use with the Halide app when I’m taking “proper” photos nowadays. I aim to keep this phone for at least five more years, barring anything other than monumental updates to Apple’s hardware.

Pudding = Proof #

Having now proven beyond any reasonable doubt;
that the best camera is the one you have with you,
I will now say this:

“The greatest game is the one you have with you.”
Iain Plays, 2023

Shenzhen Safari #

And so, allow me to introduce you to this hopeful hexad;
a series of six reviews.

Every two months throughout 2023, I’ll be reviewing a choice piece of AliExpress’ hand-held gaming hardware, carefully appraising each gift horse’s mouth, teeth, mane, and muscles. Here, let us begin…

Pocket Multi Game (PMG) 99 in 1! #

Welcome to Shenzhen Safari of .

We begin with this tiny treat and its titanic name, the:
Mini Handheld Game Player Retro Game Console

Pocket Multi Game 99 in 1 front-view

Pocket Multi Game 99 in 1 rear-view

NOTE: Henceforth, Mini Handheld Game Player Retro Game Console will be referred to as “Pocket Multi Game” “PMG”.

As you can see, batteries are included, safely caged under a translucent aquamarine shell and short Phillips-head screw.

The speaker-quality is reminiscent of the ’80s and early ’90s PC beepers, cheerily chirping out the same ditty across boot sequences and deaths alike.

Having thoroughly tested each of the 99 included games, I’ll summarise for you, impatient reader, the key games included. But first, speaking of keys, did you notice this 99 in 1 game device is attached to a gunmetal grey keyring? And attached to that is a fetching fuchsia cat bell? Which is seemingly a perfect colour match with Wario’s nose?

Knows Operation #

The twelve teensy face buttons do the following.

D-PAD LEFT:     increases game level (1–10)

D-PAD RIGHT:    increases game speed (1–10)

D-PAD UP/DOWN:  changes the big number displayed (1–99)
                but has no effect?

MUSIC:          silences PMG (that’s handy), 
                even when PMG is turned off and on again

S/P:            starts or pauses the game

RESET:          restores PMG to factory defaults

ROTATE:         changes game letter (A–Z), although L–Z
                are all Tetris.
Wait? PMG is actually a 12 in 1, not a 99 in 1…
…well, that’ll shorten the review.

The 12 Games of Pocket Multi Game (99 in 1) #

Game Genre Comments
A [1] Deathmatch Very tricky to control, thus enjoy. Ships spawn and you travel up, down, left, or right to dodge them and align your front gun to blow them up.
B [2] Breakout Should be fun. The rotate buttons fast-forward the game. Destroying a love-heart made of bricks is the first level. Impossible(?) to complete as the ball has a fixed course from its starting point, so you spend all your lives before the heart is broken. Heart-breaking.
C [3] Breakout A variation of game B [2], with a paddle and void atop the screen too. Can complete level 1. Level 2 is a dumbbell. Ah, heart to muscle.
D [4] Breakout / Space Invaders Level 1 is a dumbbell. How original. The ball is a bomb that kills you. You blast the bricks with your gun, and the rows move down every few seconds.
E [5] Breakout / Hockey Try not to fall asleep while netting a goal past a slow-moving paddle.
F [6] Endless Runner / Traffic Lanes Race your car up the screen, forever, dodging cars. Cars Look like stick-men, with engine sound high on treble, at a constant drone.
G [7] Endless Runner / Tunnel As the narrow tunnel twists and turns, avoid the walls.
H [8] Space Invaders / Breakout Zap away the falling bricks as they hurtle downwards towards you. You must be a perfectionist and delete every single brick on every row, or you will die. Blasting a ship-sized hole through is simply not good enough.
I [9] Space Invaders / Bust-a-Move This is pretty cool. Definitely my favourite, and surely covers the investment made in the PMG. Worth every penny of the 179 penny cost. You lay one brick at a time by firing it to the top of the screen. A complete row evaporates. The rows are constantly moving down screen, preparing to crush you.
J [10] Snake The snake grows as you eat bricks; careful not to eat yourself. This version includes barriers to avoid. The greatest barrier though is the rubber D-PAD which is numb and fickle to the touch, and not in a good way.
K [11] Frogger Travel from the bottom to the top of the screen, hitching a ride on the logs. Avoid the water. Seems a bit silly, given frogs are amphibious.
L–Z [12] Tetris In some variations the Tetronimoes fall from the bottom-up. Mercifully, D-PAD UP/DOWN fast-forwards each drop.

Fine All Thoughts #

I must admit this PMG has grown on me, and I have become quite attached. The translucent blue shell, Wario pink nose, gunmetal grey keyring, and odd typography mesh together to create a real oddity. Being bashed about with keys over the past month or so has given a grungy patina, chamfering the harsh plastic edges to give the illusion of a pleasing light blue piping.

Yes, I think PMG will live on my keyring until the batteries eventually fail. And when that eventuality comes to pass, I shall tenderly unscrew the cage, pry out the two LR44 cells, and replace with shiny new ones. Because, the best game ever is the one you have with you. And in my case, it is Game I [9] on my PMG.

Thanks for reading Shenzhen Safari of .

Every second month throughout 2023, I reviewed a choice piece of AliExpress’ gaming hardware, carefully appraising each gift horse’s mouth, teeth, mane, and muscles.

  1. Shenzhen Safari : Pocket Multi Game (PMG) 99 in 1
  2. Shenzhen Safari : NES 143 in 1 Cart
  3. Shenzhen Safari : Data Frog SF2000
  4. Shenzhen Safari : Wireless PS2 Controller (2.4Ghz | Translucent)
  5. Shenzhen Safari : 3D Neon Sign Lamp Headphone Stand
  6. Shenzhen Safari : Non-tendo 168-in-1 iPhone 12 mini Phone Case