Terrible video game consoles are great. The Coolbaby RS-20 provided hours of entertainment and equally delightful disappointment. The RS-83 was worse. But maybe the very worst so far is the PXP3 – a little pseudo-PSP that has so much potential, and lives up to none of it. But, a caveat: your mileage may vary!

PXP3 eBay listing

I wanted to suffer through roughly 150 games of varying quality. I dreamed of digging though piles of digital trash to find some of the worst games on the planet. Suffering through plug-and-play shovelware beats slogging through Red Dead Conversation 2 any day. Seriously, do they ever stop talking?

Either I’d get some really crappy 16-bit games, or have a little device on which I could put a million great games, as advertised. This does neither. Certain kinds of extremes have a place in a collection; this belongs nowhere. It’s terrible for all of the wrong reasons; it does nothing. It is neither weird enough to be cool, or cool enough to be a weird anomaly for $14.

PXP3 System

The PXP3 has a ton of mostly positive reviews online, and they all say the same thing: it usually has about 150 games, it feels solid enough, and it has a great screen and an A/V out port. But here’s the weird thing: because so many factories crank out this cheap and well-reviewed system, you’ll probably never buy the same one twice. People report getting a different assortment of games on their units, depending on where and when they were purchased; some eBay listings for this even admit that it’s a random assortment of games that they cannot guarantee. Unfortunately, the one I bought from wonder.tech on eBay is about 1/5th of a system, backed up by a whole lot of empty promises, and was part of a really bad batch of PXP3s.

Even though this PXP3 is listed as having about 150 placeholder games that you can customize with better ones using the methods of your choice, there’s just no way to do it. After trying to pull up the PXP’s drive on multiple computers, using multiple programs to dig into it, it just wasn’t possible to access or change any info of any kind via the included USB cable. And the 20 games that the system did include were punctuated with terrible ports. But wait, it gets dumber.

PXP3 Fake Game Carts

Two additional carts that promise thousands more games aren’t actually game carts at all: they’re cart-shaped plug-ins that have no memory of their own, but just open up another portion of the device’s hard drive, with another repetitive ROM dump of about 12 games, repeated literally almost a million times. Nobody could reasonably expect 888888 games on a cart, but only 12? Go eat a nail, PXP3. Because these carts have almost nothing in them, you can’t even use them as storage devices. This could probably be a cool little system, but the gross game selection and intentional misdirection here is pretty obviously a giant error. PXP3, I hate you.

So, what DOES the system include? By way of introduction to the very small hell you’re about to enter, the first game is called Super Mario Bros. 2. Except it’s not; it’s a port of Super Mario Bros. All-Stars, but with broken controls. This is normally the part where I’d pop in a video of the gameplay, except the A/V out port of the system, I’ve discovered, is just an empty hole that goes nowhere, much like my soul.

Sonic 2 is there, but with a pretty bad screen flicker. Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles 3? Perfect. It’s all a terrible mystery that’s not worth solving.

So this is an exercise in disappointment, wherein I set out to be disappointed, and ended up even more disappointed than I’d planned. Maybe that makes this an amazing success; the last few handheld bootleg systems were surprisingly okay, setting up some moderate expectations as to what one of these should provide a player. Maybe this is the apex of the experience; what can you expect for 14 bucks? Overall, the answer is ‘more than this’. At 50 cents a game, which most people already have or would otherwise just get for free, the value is nonexistent. Except when you can go online and write about it and run ads against your angry and disappointed screeds.

The verdict? I’m sending this back and buying a different one from another seller. The mission into madness must continue.

C. David is a writer and artist living in the Hudson Valley, NY. He loves pinball, Wazmo Nariz, Rem Lezar, MODOK, pogs, Ultra Monsters, 80s horror, and is secretly very enthusiastic about everything else not listed here.