Sometimes you see an idea for sale that’s so wonderful and perfect you want to buy it instantly. At first glance, the Gaming Power Bank seems like exactly that scenario. It’s an 8,000 mAh backup battery that ALSO doubles as a portable gaming system. What’s not to love? Well, plenty. Second and third glances leave me wanting it—just made by someone reputable.
When you’re traveling, you often have to deal with two issues—charging your stuff and relieving your boredom. Sure, you can carry around a battery pack, a Nintendo Switch, and some power cords, but that’s more weight and space to account for and one more thing to charge.
A battery pack that also functions as a portable game station sounds perfect for that scenario. But the Gaming Power Pack isn’t one you should buy. I’m so adamant about it, I didn’t even want to include a buy link (but my editor made me—it’s up there if you want to click it).
It’s not that the hardware looks terrible; it resembles an external hard drive with some game controls and a screen slapped on it, followed by some fun paint jobs. And the promise even sounds good: it’s an 8,000 mAh battery that also has 416 “classic games” to play. But look around hard enough and you’ll find this “gaming power bank” under several brand names, like Peeps. It’s clearly a case of a manufacturer who specializes in putting together hardware and selling to anyone who wants to slap their name on it resell it to you.
Something feels off about Mario and Pac-Man on a random no-name game system. Peeps
A mass-manufactured device under many names isn’t necessarily the worst thing in the world. But then you have to ask, how did the company acquire the games this thing is supposed to play? You’ll see screenshots and listings for Super Mario, Angry Birds, Contra, Bomberman, and Pocket Monster. Yeah, you read that right, Pocket Monster, not Pokémon. It’s hard to believe that Nintendo approved Mario making an appearance on a random portable gaming machine.
No, most likely, this thing is filled with ROMs. Setting aside the legal questions surrounding ROMs, here’s the real scary thought—you don’t know where the company got these games. So the Gaming Power Bank is filled with sketchy software that could easily be malicious. And remember, you’re supposed to plug your devices (like your phone!) into this thing.
That’s a terrible idea. It’s the equivalent of plugging random USB drives you bought from a stranger into your computer. You’d never do that, so why would it be better because it has a screen and a d-pad?
And yet, at the end of the day, the idea behind the Gaming Power Bank is sound. You want games on the go and you want power on the go, why not combine those needs into one convenient device? If someone more reputable, say Anker or Mophie, made this thing, it would be an instabuy.
It would have to be a company that put in the time and effort to properly license games from the companies that make them. But with those assurances, you could feel better about plugging your gaming battery pack into your phone, tablet, or laptop and getting your game on when you’re stuck on another layover waiting on a delayed flight—again.
But until then, don’t buy a gaming system filled with sketchy software—especially one you’re meant to connect to your other gadgets.