Not too long ago, I began to thirst for the ability to enjoy my Genesis games both on a TV and on the go. The Nomad is the oldest portable Genesis but is rather expensive, and its size is not particularly portable. Back in 2009, AtGames released the GENMobile and RetroGEN, both marred by the accursed Titan ARM emulator. Neither the Nomad or these tofu-like imposters would do. That is of course, until I stumbled upon something glorious, almost like a gift from the heavens above.
The Hamy HG-806 (It might go by other names, but for simplicity, we will call it what the box says).
Initially, you will notice it bears an uncanny resemblance to the AtGames GENMobile – same general shape, same button placement, same LCD screen. Inside, however, is a completely different story. While the GENMobile uses an ARM mobile CPU to run a software emulator, the Hamy HG-806 is 100% pure Genesis On A Chip (GOAC), containing a graciously welcomed TCT-6703 ASIC, meaning it is a real Genesis! But, such clones can have FEW issues, which we will go over soon. (It might interest GENMobile buyers to know that the HG-806’s mainboard is dated 2009, same year the GENMobile was released.)
The box includes the portable unit, a USB AC adapter, AV cable, and instruction booklet. Thankfully this actually has an English section, but a unit like this is relatively self-explanatory. The USB port is only for recharging the built-in lithium battery; it does not act as a real USB data port. I can’t tell whether it is charging or not, since the LED on the handheld doesn’t turn on or off, nor does the LED on the AC adapter seem to do anything. I guess it just recharges for as long as a lithium battery (3.7V/10000mA) needs. I haven’t tested to see how long the battery can last, but given the battery itself and the fact that GOAC-type systems aren’t very power hungry, I figure you can get several hours easily on a full charge, probably less if you are using the built-in ROM to play games. Also, the battery is located behind the LCD screen, in case you have to change it for whatever reason.
The build quality is very remarkable. The plastic has a matte finish and a sturdy feel, though the unit itself is not very heavy. In fact, a usual battery-backed cartridge (like an RPG or sports game) weighs about the same if not more. The buttons all have a good tactile feel, with the D-pad holding an unfortunate exception. It is split in half and actually consists of two “buttons”, up/left and right/down respectively. It’s okay, but if you’re able to, swapping with a real D-pad is recommended. There is no mode button built in, so certain games which behave strangely when using a 6-button controller won’t work on this clone. I don’t know if a mode button can be implemented.
The speaker is adequate but can’t handle very high volume without distortion (headphone is much better). The screen is very high quality, but its size causes games to look truncated, like Master System games on a Game Gear. It’s not quite to that extreme, but the screen makes shooters hard to play.
Oddly enough, this clone includes built-in games. It says there are 19, but a bunch of them are copies of games already listed, so it’s more like 14 games. Some of them are good, like Streets of Rage and Sonic 1, some are older titles like Columns and Flicky, while others aren’t particularly noteworthy, such as Chase HQ, Super Volley Ball and Shove It!. Built-in games are a welcome feature, but the selection is very meager and spotty. Here is a complete list of the games included on the HG-806:
01 – Tiny Toons Adventures
02 – Streets of Rage (skips title screen)
03 – Sonic The Hedgehog (starts at Green Hill Zone)
04 – Chase HQ II
05 – World Cup Soccer
06 – Tetris
07 – Super Volley Ball
08 – Rambo III (skips title screen)
09 – Alex Kidd in the Enchanted Castle
10 – Championship Pro-Am
11 – Ms. Pac-Man
12 – Shove It! The Warehouse Game
13 – Columns
14 – Flicky
15 – Street Fighter (actually Streets of Rage)
16 – Mario Sonic (actually Sonic 1 Marble Zone)
17 – Frag Fighter (actually Rambo III)
18 – Pit Fighter (actually Sonic 1 Spring Yard Zone)
19 – Lamarck (actually Rambo III)
The true test of quality though, lies within the clone’s silicon. We already know it’s a GOAC clone, but it has some ups and downs to consider.
Firstly, it doesn’t have complete cartridge compatibility. The 32X won’t work due to the lack of RGB output, Virtua Racing probably doesn’t work since there’s no CLK signal. The Game Genie does in fact boot, but the game doesn’t load afterwords because of the CLK signal’s absence. I don’t have Gargoyles to test for its weird bug. Master System support is also not present. Most interestingly, Pier Solar works on it, something I wasn’t expecting. It’s a welcome feature for sure. I don’t have Super Street Fighter 2 to test for the SEGA Mapper, but seeing how Pier Solar works, SSF2 probably does as well. With that said, I haven’t found a normal Genesis game that doesn’t work, so this is a great unit for the average gamer. Being a GOAC, it should be able to play every standard Genesis game (ones that are coded properly at least).
As far as audio goes, it is well, rather lousy out of the box. PSG is very loud and very distorted, making FM hard to hear. FM, on the other hand, sounds fine, though the low pass filtering is a bit high. Thankfully, changing one resistor in the audio circuit can restore balance to a pleasant level (probably not that of the MegaAmp though). The resistor circled in red is what you change. Be warned though, the audio circuit sits where the cart slot rests when a cartridge is inserted. Anything in that area must not exceed the height of the TCT-6703 chip (the GOAC).
There doesn’t appear to be any issue with the video quality on the GOAC end of things, but the HG-806 is configured for Asia 50Hz, strangely enough. There is a switch for changing between JP and US region, but 50Hz has to be adjusted via a jumper on the mainboard (clearly indicated thanks to a silk screened chart). The composite colorburst frequency is also configured to PAL, changing it to NTSC requires a 14.31818MHz oscillator. On a miscellaneous note, this clone lacks TMSS.
I have no idea how this carbon copy of the GENMobile came to possess a GOAC, or why it has a USB port when there is no need for it, or why my particular unit is pink. All I know is this clone’s existence is incredible. Despite all the issues big and small I’ve covered, this is an amazing little handheld. For the average person, it is a fantastic alternative to the Nomad, being significantly cheaper with newer parts and even a built-in lithium battery. Its issues can all be remedied, except probably the incompatible cartridges. At about $50 on average, I highly recommend the Hamy HG-806. Out of the box though, it’d get four out of five Sonic emblems, but only if you were incapable of fixing its issues.
Where do you get one of these? That can be a tricky matter, I obtained mine from gamedoctorhk.com, but the HG-806 in this article was their last unit in stock. This seller on aliexpress.com seems to be carrying the same thing though. When buying, sometimes you do actually see a AtGames logo on the handheld itself in listing pictures. I think what matters is “PocketGame” or “Micro Drive” are printed somewhere on the handheld itself instead of AtGames.
Rating (out of 5):