Mad Catz MOJO Micro-Console for Android, 16GB

Smartphones are a great place to play retro games on a wide range of emulators, but touch-screen controls are not kind to any sort of retro game but turn-based titles that don’t require precision.

Still, it’s a pity to waste those cheap and powerful smartphone guts, so in recent years we have seen a slew of so-called “microconsoles”. These little boxes are basically screenless smartphones that you plug into your TV and control with a wireless controller. Under the hood it’s just Android, but the interfaces and control systems have been heavily modified to let you work it with a controller.

For retro gamers Android is an awesome operating system. There is no limit, it seems, to the vast number of emulator apps for Android. NES, SNES, N64, PS1 and almost every other retro platform.

Most of these emulators support a physical controller, so you can make use of the gamepad that came with your microconsole or sometimes a 3rd party controller that mimics a particular classic console.

Of course, not all microconsoles give you such freedom, locking you into specific manufacturer-approved software systems, but if you choose carefully you’ll have a great retro emulation platform that also happens to have access to many great Android originals and ports; not to mention media applications like Netflix and Hulu.

The Best Microconsole: Mad Catz M.O.J.O

The M.O.J.O is one of the most powerful microconsoles on the market, which means that it has enough horsepower to run some of the more demanding emulators on the Android platform. It’s also one of the most open microconsoles, allowing you to basically use any app store you want and to sideload applications.

It comes with the Madcatz C.T.R.L.R gamepad, which you can buy separately and works with most Android phones. It’s a pretty popular controller, but unlike Apple with its MFi controller program, there is no guarantee that this will work with every app out there. If you find some good emulators that explicitly support the C.T.R.L.R you’ll be golden.

Power Horses

One of the main draws of the M.O.J.O is that it is one of the most powerful microconsoles you can buy. It uses the superlative Nvidia Tegra 4 processor, which gives it a 1.8 Ghz quad core CPU, 2GB of RAM, and a 72 core graphics processing unit. While that won’t make a PS4 or Xbox One sweat, it should provide some of the most consistent emulation of any microconsole.

On top of this, the console has 5.1 surround-sound output, and with a software update it can output media in 4K as well. It has 16GB of built-in storage but you can add up to 128GB more with a cheap SD card.

You’ll get access to the OUYA store, the Tegrazone, and OnLive game streaming. No matter which way you look at it, this tiny console is flexible and powerful. There aren’t really any other products in this category today that can match it.

No Flies in This Ointment

When the M.O.J.O launched it had a huge problem – its price. It launched at a staggering price of $250, which meant you could buy a much more powerful Xbox 360 or even a refurbished current generation console. At that price there were understandably very few takers, but Mad Catz’s has since come to its senses and the M.O.J.O now sells for a price in line with other microconsoles. This makes it the best deal in town, in my opinion.

Jack of All Trades

The M.O.J.O is a very desirable piece of hardware and it also happens to be heart-achingly pretty. For the revised, more sane price and massive, open platform with the horsepower to drive just about anything you throw at it, the M.O.J.O is without a doubt the best microconsole; not just for retro gamers but for anyone who wants one.