Q&A: GP2X chief Craig Rothwell

The portable underdog reports surge in interest in the UK and first big-budget game release; sales expected to reach 50,000 by Christmas.


The GP2X--which stands for 'Game Park Times Two'--was first released in the UK this year as an alternative portable that runs on Linux. The handheld sports two 200MHz CPUs with 64MB of RAM and custom graphics hardware and decoding chips. It connects to a PC via USB and also takes SD cards. It retails in the UK at £124.99 (around $231).

The GP2X.
The GP2X.

So far, approximately 30,000 units have been sold in less than nine months, and Craig Rothwell, the Director of GP32/2x Distribution, is confident that sales will reach 50,000 by Christmas.

Rothwell is delighted at the way that sales have been picking up for the underdog, which can play games, movies, and music, as well as show photos and e-books. And although GP2X still has a way to go to catch up with the likes of the Game Boy Advance or the iPod, he thinks things are looking good.

"Things have really sped up in the last few months," said Rothwell, who attributes this growth in sales to a number of factors. One of the things he firmly believes is that people "have had enough" of larger companies and their restrictive policies on homegrown game development.

"We think it's [the growth in sales] because essentially the system is completely open whereas Sony and Apple and big companies like that lock down their systems. We pretty much let people run whatever they want on it. We don't have any secrets about how it works, and we release all the documents. In fact we encourage people to hack the system and see what they can get it to do."

Rothwell used to own (among other systems) an Amiga, and looks back on the early days of computers, especially the 16-bit era, fondly. With the GP2X, he says that he wants to try to re-create this kind of computing community.

"In the late '80s and early '90s, all systems were open like ours. They were all owned by small companies like Sinclair and Amstrad and Tiny. And then the big guys came in and put an end to it. I used to really like doing all that hacking around with the systems and things and it had a huge scene at the time. We know that the market is still there--it hasn't disappeared--so that's the market that we're trying to appeal to now."

He also revealed his "cunning plan" to make the GP2X easily upgradeable, with plans to do so at some point in the future.

Rothwell believes that there is great gaming potential for his company's handheld. There are over 200 freeware games for download posted in the files section of the company Web site, and he recently ran a coding competition, and several people rose to the challenge of creating new games and applications. He added, "It's essentially a PC, so ports are really easy."

It's not just indie games and freeware coming out for the GP2X, though. Payback, a Grand Theft Auto-style car game is the first big-budget game to be released for the handheld and will be available for £24.99 (around $46) this month. There are also a number of other games in development for the system, including an RPG called Elsewhere from Japan.

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Avatar image for sugreev2005-06

I might buy the console solely for Payabck,that looks absolutely amazing !

Avatar image for motang

I plan on getting one of these this summer. I can't wait man it's going to fun with all those NeoGeo roms!

Avatar image for cann0n2o

I have been meaning to pick one of theses up for a while now... great value for money, even better if you like to program your own games or apps! great bit of kit for students as well....

Avatar image for SoftSwitch

GP2X on GS. That's pretty cool. :)

Avatar image for spikeydude97323

Yer that helps alot man:D I'll probably buy a bigger sd card later on next year though. I can't wait to play all the classics again!!!

Avatar image for GrimBee

But remember, you can also underclock the cpu or make it as a normal gp2x speed as you like, the 275mhz versions is just a version which can safely get to this speed than a standard one. So, basically the extra tenner will get you exactly the same gp2x, but also have the option to give it a little kick when you need to :) Hope that helps

Avatar image for GrimBee

its totally worth it! Because the more power, the smoother the games. The more power means slightly less battery power though ok? It runs nes stuff near perfect even at standard speeds. But for snes, its nice to have that extra kick for the 60fps and un-clicky or skippy sound. The extra mhz is good to re-create the exact representation of the games as they were meant to be. You dont really need it for the nes stuff, but for neogeo and doom etc etc its quite essential for that extra smooth-ness. :) :D

Avatar image for spikeydude97323

Lol well im glad your promoting it aswell as GS because this is the first i've heard of it! Im from the u.k too so as long as i own th nes games and all that its all good:D But is it worth getting the 275Mhz version for an extra tenner?

Avatar image for GrimBee

yessssssssssssss thats the way!! Remember to read all through each forum and stuff first. So you can get a great idea of where to go when you get one through the post. If you order from craigs site www.gp2x.co.uk, i recommend getting a case for it to protect it, a tv-out cable... then, go onto ebay and look up some powerful uniross batteries and a charger (some chargers charge batteries in 15 MINUTES!!!) remember to get batteries with a good make (uniross, ansmann, energizer) with power OVER 2300mah. THEN, go to www.svp.co.uk and have a look at the SD cards there. 1gb for £14?!? Its a seriously awesome site, deliver next day too. And you will be really ready for the gp2x then, oh and i recommend getting a sd card reader/writer for your pc. Its easier that way as you can just stick the card in and drag away without having to even turn your gp2x on! (save batteries). Head over to some forums, and download pages (go to craigs site for links) and just try some stuff out! For chrimbo, its essential to have all these items all in one go, because its such a great handheld, its nice to just have these things ready, and alot of people in the gp2x scene make special versions of emulators and homebrew especially for christmas release. So be sure to check it all out. And the great thing is, the sites wont get shut down because there is not hacking of firmwares or ilegal activity going on with the gp2x at all. But like i mentioned below, everything for gp2x is released with the intention of personal use only. There are certain rules which must be abided (like rules for different countries etc). So aslong as you know whats legal and whats not (mostly with emulation purposes as rom downloading is not allowed in certain countries, of course with retro games you are good to go if you have the game in your home of course. In the Uk it is anyways :) ) Make sure you read all the forums and the readme's etc. Being a FREE community, you shouldn't go into it blind as you might find that doing something so cool MIGHT have a bad side to it. So be sure to read in to what you are getting into before you go downloading and tinkering and using stuff. So yeah, go and be a part of the community, see if you like it. And get the best out of this great handheld!! Im having some awesome fun with it, and its wonderful to have metal slug on the go (i have all the original arcade carts here, and there is no other way for me to play them except inside my arcade cabinets). So metal slug on the go is fantastic for me, likewise with all the other games I have too. I hate to sound like im promoting this handheld, but Im just having so much fun with it, ive already had my moneys worth out of it and i dont see this stopping for YEARS to come! I guess I'm so positive about this because so many people don't even know about this handheld, gamespot wont even make a little section for it!! So I mean, I HAVE to spread the word to gamers because it is one AWESOME games machine which should at least be given a chance :) :D

Avatar image for spikeydude97323

Grim bee you've made me so want to get one now lol:D Im so asking for one of these beautys for chrimbo!

Avatar image for GrimBee

muscrat_01 im not even going to answer that... ok i will. Im both a DUAL ds lite owner, AND a psp owner (check my profile pics!). I forgot to take a pic of my gp2x though.. sorry.. The psp always needs to be updated to play "normal games" and its increasingly harder and wierd to get things working on it (for a casual, non geek). Emulation on the psp is quite terrible. NES emulation is awesome (some sounds are a bit out). Genesis emulation is quite bad with some titles, streets of raeg is AWFUL on it. You have to overclock the cpu to 333mhz (super battery drainer!) and have it on frameskip 1... Snes emulation is a no go area... neo geo.. dont even make me laugh! frameskip 1 with NO sound?? PAH! Gp2x genesis emulation is nigh-on perfect (frameskip 0, cpu at 250mhz). Batteries last ohh.. about 4 hours? (the psp is awful, running out after 50 mins..) There IS a gba emulator, but have you even tried it?? its like me saying "the gp2x even has a ps1 emulator!" Infact, the funny thing is.. the ps1 emulator for the gp2x is more smooth than the gba one!! :P And thats saying something! For emulation and homebrew there IS no competition. batteries are best for overclocking with the gp2x, the sd cards are far cheaper and more widespread for storing stuff on.. and it plays neogeo on frameskip 0 WITH sound... Snes isnt PERFECT mind, but it will always be YEARS ahead of the psp version. Plus, gp2x has the likes of quake, doom, duke nukem 3d... ;) Scruffybawls (lol) I highly recommend getting a gp2x if you love those games you mentioned. Gnuboy is perfect for running zelda games on the gameboy (my favourite being links awakening). Snes emulation isnt PERFECT but its pretty freaking sweet though! You wnt find better on ANY handheld, not even close. NEOGEO games like metal slug run nigh-on perfect on it (my fave game series). Sonic games (etc etc) and ALL genesis games (like thunderforce 4) run perfectly, perfect sound, 60fps... oooh makes me shivver! And the screen is the EXACT representation, pixel per pixel which the console would display (320x240) and infact ANY 16 bit system. Meaning , ultra sharp detail. Unlike the terrible ghosting of black on white with the psp screens and the use of blur effects to stretch the image out (making sonic look fat and short, like a blue mario lol). When you install the application (drag it on) you make a folder and drag the games on there. The emulator will find and do the rest (usually). My advice, get a gp2x, a 4gb memory card (woohoo!! movies and thousands of homebrew on the go! for the price of storage only!) and when you download programs, it tells you exactly what you need to do. Its dead easy. the only things you need to know are that SOME emulators require folders to be in small case letters, like this. not This. or THIS. but its stuff like that, not editing files or replacing 00x43i20 with p44022i20...lol. You dont have to do stuff like that. The comunity gets some rough diamonds out at times, but this is only for review and testing purposes usually. As with programs like drmd, this has been perfected, and in such a short time. Homebrew is wonderful for the gp2x, aslong as you know whats legal, and whats not of course! If you want a truely fresh and fun handheld, get a ds (for phoenix wright!!) but if you just fancy an awesome handheld experience (games you love, in your hand) .. that sounds.. bad... Get a gp2x. And its got one HECK of a movie playing aspect to it, and people release codecs and players to play ALL kinds of music on it, ranging from chip tunes (game music) to ogg... etc etc etc. Movies are awesome. Say you have a big 700mb movie file for your pc. You just drag it on the card.. and thats it. Play it. The processor perfectly matches the output to the screen, and the picture is fantastic. Plus you can watch like 3 movies in a go before the batteries die (get rechargables).. unlike the psp with ONE movie before the recharge.. And because the movie isnt converted to the gp2x screen size, when connected to a tv, you have a perfect picture on there too, which fills the screen, like watching a dvd! All those features ALONE make it worth the price.

Avatar image for golden_saiyajin

An impressive product they have there. Specs alone beat out the PSP, and the approach to the system is unique and attractive to developers. Now I'm wishing I had one. I guess the old cliche,"Love at first sight", really does apply.

Avatar image for assfault88

I'll take my FFXIII and GT5 and GTAIV over hacking anyday, but its a thought

Avatar image for ZEELIX

ive been wanting one of these for a while and i dont have a handheld. i want one instead of a ds or psp thats for sure, still there will be a newer one out later.

Avatar image for Icekxg

Thank god people are starting to notice the GP32/2X, it's a great handheld with barely any restrictions. Really fun if you dig emulation and customization, something you won't get from a PSP or a Nintendo DS right out of the box.

Avatar image for sephiroth1386

GrimBee, you are a actual gamer in my eyes, not blind by picking a favorite console maker, like all the nintendo fan boys who bad mouth sony or microsoft because they don't have a zelda, metriod, or mario (which all pretty much have the same exact plot lines in every game, but hey they don't notice it cause its the greatest thing since slice bread to them) before they even give another console a try, but they got what they deserved when they only got GCs and not a PS2 or XB/ 360. You give everybody thier props and cons at the same time. Which means your life as a gamer is much more enjoyable cause you don't have to wait years to own a new Good game, you (like me) have to wait a few months for one, and just play decent to good games in between. If you became a reviewer someday for a magazine, I'd listen to what you have to say. And one more thing, HOW THE HELL DOES PRINCESS PEACH BEAT JILL VALENTINE? AND LUIGI BEATING ZERO, YOSHI BEATING RIKU, AND KIRBY BEATING THE PRINCE OF PERSIA? I mean damn thats what I'm talking about you nintendo fan boys, half of y'all probably ain't even play the games with these characters. Peach would have been shot by a Colt Python in the head (head explodes) or rocket launcher (body explodes). Zero would have cut Luigi into pieces with his laser sword. Yoshi would have been killed for the same reason as Luigi, except with magic thrown on top. And Kirby would have been stabed and killed, then the Prince would re-wind time so he could kill him by slashes with his swords, then re-winded another time to go kill who ever spawned that pink bastard.

Avatar image for AA7

Ill trade my PSP for one of these, anybody have one?

Avatar image for gamestar412

Does it support MP4. The wiki says it does but puts it in the (...) things. If it does I just may buy one.

Avatar image for GrimBee

Craig KNOWS FULL WELL that the scene isnt going to get any bigger. But the emulation scene is BIG. Its just getting word out to those people. I know LOADS of people who are intently into emulation. I showed them the gp2x and they just took it off me and bench tested it right there to see how good it really was. the next day, i got 5 of those people to get one from craigs site. Man, Craig should of paid me some royalties or something haha! Seriously though, this handheld is great because its not limited by the fact that the company will stop people doing what they want with it. The psp crowd LOVE homebrew on their psp, because it kind of makes the price they paid for it a little less painful. But at the expense of complicated file transferring and low battery ETC ETC. and 191.. what did YOU program? A fisherprice toy or something?? All you need to do with the gp2x to have hours of fun is look at a little thing called a README when you download anything (it comes with whatever you download). On it, it tells you where to put the folders and files on the card.. takes seconds. With the psp, you have to boot up software to put these things on the card (and actually have them run off it).. using things like the seipsp tool and all that stuff.. If you sold the gp2x, it might of been one with an olf buggy firmware. Now the firmware is brilliant ;) Gp2x, is perfect for handheld gaming. Not like the DS mind, but when you are playing full speed metal slug.. its a hard thing to compare then..

Avatar image for YukoAsho

I hope this guy realizes that he's never going to get any sales beyond the emulation crowd.

Avatar image for meteo11

Popular Science had an article in this month's magazine about the GP2X. What a coincidence that it's gotten so much coverage so recently.

Avatar image for mattxavier

Not really a portable gamer but it does look good.

Avatar image for Irve

i bought a PSP .. and after all the hassle of trying to get video footage on the thing i really wish i'd bought one of these ... and playing Duke3d on the move is a very cool idea !!

Avatar image for 191

I had one and sold it because it really is too much of a hassle and i am a programmer mind you.

Avatar image for Chrono324

And if you are going to get one try not to breake the analog it will pop right off trust me please

Avatar image for Chrono324

Everyone go to << LINK REMOVED >> if you have a lot of time in your hands then this is a good hand held

Avatar image for DrinkDuff

Where can we get one in the US?

Avatar image for Jshaw71

another 200 + spent on a machine that is just a mp3 player/photo veiwer, no thanks the psp already made me shell out 250 i am not going that road again, maybe when the price comes down, but until then...

Avatar image for meancode

It is really a shame that the GP2X has not gotten more main-stream exposure. It is really a great piece of hardware.

Avatar image for phinsfan

Haha, finally, the GP2X gets some main-stream exposure.

Avatar image for hemakm3

First I've heard of this handheld

Avatar image for peetabix77

BigRell486 - "Its a system for people who like to program their own software." Not exactly. I have one and i love it. I have no programming experiance at all and my 5 years old son plays on it on a regular basis. Anyone can use it.

Avatar image for Ne0zEEd

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Avatar image for shinneri

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Avatar image for GrimBee

People use the psp (alot of them, like me) for homebrew. And its a terrible fuss to get things working. Overclocking the cpu to 333mhz just for frameskip 1 for genesis emulation.. Gp2x is full speed, frameskip 0 at about 200mhz. batteries last 5 times longer too (about an hour with the psp overclocked!!) Plus, the sd cards are cheaper and more widespread (and used in cameras etc.. and the wii!) rather than memorysticks. The psp is a terrible homebrew device, screen ghosting, complicated cpu to get around etc. etc.. The psp is a good example of competition for the gp2x, however, the psp isnt a great mp3 player either. Its big design and shiny screen is not suited for the pocket.. Neither handheld is good for these, but its a novel idea to say the least. The gp2x is the king of emulators. Its got a very compact design, its wonderful to hold in your hands aswell, And its about the size of a ds lite width ways, and length also, but depth its fatter because of the AA battery compartment. AA batteries are absolutely superb. How many digital cameras do you see with lithium ion batteries?? AA is great on the go, because the batteries are everywhere, cheap, and also you can by rechargable ones. Great stuff. I highly recommend going to craigs site, and go to the gp2x wiki to see what kinds of things are being emulated. With the wii getting downloadable content for its virtual console, the gp2x is a perfect compliment for playing those retro games on the go. And the sd card can be used in both the wii AND the gp2x!! The gp2x is great, you can hook it right to the tv and have an entire console collection in your hand! And also, drag those divx movies on there or whatever. The community (im repeating myself arent i...) is just great. The fact that you can do all this stuff for FREE says it all. This is NOT to be confused with the gizmondo. Its a sleek little handheld, perfect for emulation (i play hours of metal slug on this bad boy!). And with games like quake and doom adding to the mix... its just awesome. PLUS, its a whole different world. Where with the psp and the ds you would go to gamestop, or ebay, or gamestation.. and dearch for games etc. With the gp2x, you go on the net, go on forums, see what people are making for it, then you try it out and keep it!! The gp2x may not have any good commercial games, but with the power of emulation under its belt, it doesnt need to.. ever. Im selling my psp, i simply dont use it. Not even with 2 2gb memory sticks! lol. The battery is bad, the screen ghosting is annoying at times, and just the pad response is awful for games like streetfighter and all that. PLUS, psp is definately not drag and drop friendly. All in all. DS is the top console, with fresh new gameplay, nice design and good support from developers (and nice wifi service). Second is the gp2x, with its awesome feaures under YOUR control. With hundreds of thousands of games at your disposal, from ALL kinds of games machines, and the ability to take the games and movies onto the big screen... without converting AT ALL i might ad... Lastly is the psp, Its got some interesting games, but it just doesnt provide like the other two consoles do... for the price. A gp2x with a 4gb memory card will set you back £199. A psp value pack costs £179.. The math.. is done. :)

Avatar image for _Sam_

it's having decent growth

Avatar image for G4MER

I bought a GP2X back in June. It is such a wonderful little device. Infact, I hardly even touch my DS or PSP now. I'm too busy playing the heck out of all the emulators the GP2X has to offer. Such as Genesis, SNES, NES, MAME, Neo-Geo, GB, GBC, PC-Engine, etc. As an added bonus, I can hook up my GP2X to my TV and relive the good ol' days.

Emulation isn't the only thing either. It supports a wide variety of video formats, so I never have to re-encode my video files. It will also resize the video to fit the GP2X or TV. It can play music very well, I wouldn't consider it to be a replacement for an iPod, but it gets the job done.

Lasty, the GP2X has a wonderful community that is devoted to make this system the best it can be. With hundreds of homebrew games and apps, I never will get bored with playing the same game over and over again. Most likey I will be overcome by all the games I can play through emulators, ports, interpreter, and orginals.

Avatar image for V-Nine

I wouldn't doubt seeing Halo running on this thing with full multiplayer capabilities (just an example).

Avatar image for ryanthegreat232

Its ugly...big black box... i wouldent want one.

Avatar image for ObiKKa

GrimBee - What he said, and that, yes I agree with him. For only using this lovely GP2X handheld console, you have the opportunity to play the equal worth of dozens of bulkier home consoles, & their games, which would overfill your house, not to mention the arcade games via the MAME emulator! As for the TV connection to display on the TV screen whatever is on the handheld's screen, it will display a much higher resolution of 720 * 480, instead of 320*240 on the handheld's! Also, if you don't have much experience with the emulators then consider the fact that many of them, including the SNES emulators, have anti-aliasing-like options to perfectly smoothen the curves (and makes the 2D graphics look so beautiful & timeless!). So mix that feature along with the higher resolution on the TV, along with connecting the power adaptor between the handheld and a power slot, and you've got blissful retro gaming, and showing off all those games to your family/friends! Don't be afraid by the linux based OS inside the handheld, it is purely GUI-driven, & has a few main menu icons. Although, you can sort of dig deeper with text commands, but I've only found one forum topic that asks you to do that for something way too obscure & unnecessary, so don't worry. There is also an alternative GUI by way of a third-party download, which adds a little more, along with an even more attractive design. You can also read eBooks, not just play movies (Divx, Xivd, & Avi) & music on the Gp2X. This is a terrific official GP2X website: www.gp2x.co.uk, which has links to great sites & a great, easy-to-understand, & informative forum. You can also go to www.gp2x.com (mix of news on downloads & downloads themselves), www.gp2x.net.au (much cheaper price for people living in Australia like me), and www.gp2x.de (great download archive). Don't be intimidated by the AA batteries. Buy the new, environmentally-friendly, and super-highly rated Sanyo Eneloop AA batteries & charger, and you'll be off to a great start! These batteries retain 80% of its charge after a full year, and is much cheaper in terms of its value compared to competing batteries. They look like simple, lovely blue batteries, and you can find them at a mini electronics or battery shop/franchise.

Avatar image for GrimBee

You guys SERIOUSLY need to go to Craig's site, and get yourself a gp2x, like, NOW. Seriously, I have both the GP2X and a PSP, and my psp has 1.5 firmware, it's emulation doesnt even come CLOSE to the gp2x. The gp2x has better battery life, and you can replace them when you like. You can get 1gb cards for dirt cheap from svp.co.uk or even bigger if you like. And its simple drag and drop movie system is AWESOME. You download an avi file, or make one yourself, and just drag in on the card. The bonus is that the gp2x ALSO can hook up to a tv! meaning you can have an entire console or movie station. Plus people are making breakout boxes for it, so you can hook up harddrives, joypads and loads of other nifty things. PLUS, its cheaper than a psp, and all you need to do is rip your own dvds and put them on a card. Rather than buy seperate umd discs. The screen is perfect aswell, no ghosting or anything, and its a perfect resolution for the retro games. PLUS, what handheld plays metal slug at full speed other than this baby?! Seriously, If you love games, get a gp2x. Next to the DS it's my fave handheld of all time, and people like Craig are great for keeping the scene alive. The gp2x is totally free to develop for, meaning you can do stuff what other console manufactures squirm at. Get this if you are into emulators, and movies. Check out some forums and some doanload sites for gp2x software, its constantly being updated and the community is just great (mostly!). DONT get this if you want commercial games! But this is worth the purchase for the emulators ALONE, and the ability to connect it to a tv, and have totally incredible picture quality aswell. And you dont need to convert videos either! Amazing console and the service Craig provides is just brilliant. Order one now! I had the gp32 before this from craig, and now the gp2x. It's just great. Once you get one, you wont turn back. EVERYONE i know is impressed with this console. Especially for that price aswell! It's not a console designed for commercial games, but homebrew.. you couldnt hope for anything more!

Avatar image for GUNblader

upgrade? wat kinda upgrades!!! hardware? software? tell ussss

Avatar image for cjcr_alexandru

It's a different approach in a market dominated by DS and PSP. Maybe it will remain a niche product but at least we will have something...different available.

Avatar image for ryokinshin6x3

the only thing i liked about the n-gage was the anywhere online play with cellphone data plan, wich was kinda cool linux interested me in this, but nothing is really worth buying except a ds and psp

Avatar image for 0neWingedAngel

It looks cool to me. Hope it does well! :D

Avatar image for DietSoap

I remember getting mine off Play-asia, first shipment. It was interesting, the scene over at GP32X, I went there everyday pretty much. I really hate the stick on the thing. I haven't touched mine in the longest time, but I still kinda have a soft spot for the little Korean handheld.

Avatar image for Superstan

im getting N-Gage flash backs hahaha. what ever happend to the N-Gage?

Avatar image for PostedOval

i would be tempted to buy this just to run C64 and MAME roms on it. That would ROCK!

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