Revo K101 GBA Clone Review

If you’ve heard of the K1 GBA SP before, then the Revo K101 is its successor. If not, then the K101 is a GBA clone which will play almost all GBA games flawlessly from their original carts, and will also comfortably run ROMs.

The GBA was a fantastic handheld, playing host to some excellent games which stand the test of time. My favourites will forever be Golden Sun 1 & 2, and Advance Wars 1 & 2, but these are just the tip of the iceberg.

If you’re from the GBA clone camp and want a comparative review, then this is probably not what you’re looking for. I know very little about the history of the hardware and even less about ROMs, their various types, patching headers and so on and so forth. From my perspective the K101 is a new approach to playing my favourite GBA games ( which, I might add, I still own the carts to ), in a form-factor that, thus far, has bested attempts to play these classics on my old and well-loved GBA SP, my iPad and my Pandora console.

Despite at excelling at playing GBA games, the Revo K101 is not without its own problems. This includes some quirks I’ve encountered myself. However, it has still proven to be the quickest, most easy to pick-up-and-play and most likely to still have battery life left approach to playing GBA games that I’ve found yet.

The Revo is a sleek, white handheld, in a decades old form-factor not unlike that of a condensed Gameboy Advance, NeoGeo Pocket or Dingoo A320. Considering its origins and that its predecessor shamelessly clones even the appearance of the GBA SP, it’s actually surprisingly different from any other GBA handheld. It’s also well built and, although minimalist, visually appealing. The matte white looks and feels fantastic, in fact.

It charges from Mini-UB, boasts AV-Out ( although this wont be appealing on any TV made in the last decade! ), a 3.5mm headphone socket and has a standard GBA IO port for multiplayer connectivity. The cartridge slot is also standard, accepting your existing Gameboy Advance cartridges with no complaints. To play ROMs it comes supplied with a nifty little adaptor ( the K-Card ) with a single MicroSD slot.

Unlike early GBA models, The K101 has a large, bright and somewhat excessively high resolution screen (low resolution screens are so uncommon these days that they cost more). It’s a little squishy and unprotected by any hard plastic coating, but this means you get up close and personal to the image, and it yields some pretty decent quality. Despite lacking any decent upscaling filters, GBA games look good enough. Better than on most real Gameboy Advance hardware, that’s for sure. The screen is a little too bright at the lowest setting.

When it comes to controls, the K101 has more than enough… two more buttons than even existed on a GBA. The four face buttons and D-Pad are responsive, have oodles of travel and have a decent tactile feedback, although I stil prefer the D-Pad from the Pandora. The shoulder buttons are a little “rickety” but serve their purpose well. Again, they have a good amount of travel and tactile response. Start and select are a tiny bit close together and could do with being offset. Although the D-Pad could certainly be better, I’ve had no trouble with it.

Not wanting to touch the saves on my copy of Golden Sun, I decided to play a ROM dump of it instead. It was pretty simple to get an SD card set up, although finding the guide proved tricky. For your convenience you’ll find it at the bottom of this thorough exhaustive review. I’ll also quote it below, but I encourage you to follow the link not only for the download links to the Cheat/Game Pic collection, but because it’s a great resource for prospective Revo buyers.

1. Format the microSD card using the Panasonic Formatter
2. Download and extract the Cheat Database
3. Download and extract the Game Pic collection
4. Make a folder in ROOT named ksystem
5. Place the GamePic and Cheat directories into the ksystem folder
6. Drag/Drop some ROMs or Homebrew
7. Insert the microSD card into the K-Card, the K-Card into the K101 Revo, turn on the system and enjoy!

Once done, you’ll find that booting with the K-Card inserted takes you to a simple menu of your ROMs, complete with screenshots. This is an extremely slick setup, reminiscent of an R4 cart.

ROMs play beautifully, indistinguishable from the actual carts and far better than most emulators I’ve tried. That’s the benefit of a hardware clone, naturally. There’s one little quirk with loading save states, however, and many people have reported this as “disappearing” saves. I’ve found that simple re-loading the game makes the save states magically come back, and have observed this process for the past week or so successfully.

Overall, it’s a fantastic little gadget for those with a particular affinity for Gameboy Advance classics. I’ve clocked over 8 hours in Golden Sun thus far with the odd pick-up-and-play. If you’re interested, you can pick one up from K1GBASP.com for $60.