This isn’t really a review, and I can’t label it as such, if only because Arctic Cooling’s GCM isn’t really the type of device we usually cover. Still, when it landed in the office I just couldn’t help myself. It looked so cheap and nasty that the other guys in the office recoiled from it in melodramatic disgust. I had to write about it.
You’ve seen gizmos like the GCM before, probably. It wouldn’t be out of place on the prize rack of a fairground attraction, or in a machine at that really run-down arcade that your parents never let you go to. The packaging is emblazoned with bold claims that try to sell the GCM to you on a sheer value factor – 80 games in 1? Wowee!
– all of which strengthens the impression that it’s going to be rubbish.
But, hey, at least it comes with its own Arctic Cooling batteries!
Of course, you can tell from the moment you turn it on and first hear those tiny, tinny speakers squeak into life that the 80 games it offers are going to be terrible; the lowest, cheapest emulations of the franchises and games that the creators feel they can get away with. You know
that they’re going to be full of simplistic knock-offs at best, if they work at all.
Available in three colours - infinite white space not included
Still, if you’re anything like me, you can’t help but hope a little. Maybe one of those games could actually be quite good, eh? Or maybe it’ll be just entertaining and cheap enough for it to be worth shoving the GCM into the bottom of your rucksack and keeping it for an absolute last resort – those times when your DS, PSP, iPod Touch, Gameboy Color and mobile phone are all out of battery life. And your solar charger is broken. And you’ve not got a book. Then
the GCM might sputter its way towards usefulness, maybe.
As soon as I picked up the GCM, however, all these ideas scuttled out of my head and it suddenly dawned on me what the others knew intuitively – that there is no way the GCM could ever be good at anything, ever, for whatever reason. It’s too light and flimsy to even make a good paperweight, too bulky to fit into a pocket and too flimsy to feel satisfactory in your hands.
The GCM seems to sum up everything bad about mass production; vomited onto the market thoughtlessly and crudely because – and I'm guessing this is the extent of any executive approval it might have received – ‘someone must want to buy this crap.’
And, seriously, it’s so badly made and designed that it makes broken glass look like a solid product. The sensitive Reset and Main Menu buttons are on the shoulders, right where your fingers normally rest. Even the screen rattles.
In the face of tragedy, one must either laugh or cry
And the games?
Sheesh. There are 80 of them, but they're all even worse than you might have feared – mostly boring one-button affairs with no depth or excitement, in which bland Mii-like avatars drift floatily around boring backgrounds and respond to your button presses after a half-second delay. There are a few titles in the mix, such as the obligatory Breakout clone and Schmup, which work OK, but even they lack enough lustre or speed to encourage more than the first five-minute fiddle.
Most of the included games don’t even work, in fact. The GCM has got more bugs than an ant farm, and it crashes regularly too. One time I tried to boot up Jet Girl, one of the less obnoxious titles in the Racing Games category, but got nothing more than a 12 second loading screen followed by a burst of numbers running across the screen. A moment later the Fencing game loaded up instead. In French.
The GCM is really a joke, and its punchline must be the price. £40
for this pile of
, worthless trash? It’s one thing for the GCM to fulfil expectations by turning out to be a poorly built and cheaply produced pocket-toy full of games you wouldn’t play if you had to. It’s something altogether to charge such an outrageous RRP – you could have a nice meal for two for the cost of this bloody thing!
As I predicted earlier, the GCM is indeed the type of product you’d expect to see in an oversized gumball machine outside a hairdresser in the bad part of town. No wonder this isn’t a proper review; there just isn’t a score low enough.