The weirdest bootleg game stuff you can find on AliExpress
When that holiday buying season comes around, there's nobody more difficult to buy for than a videogame enthusiast. What the heck do they want? What don't they already have?
Take a quick trip over to AliExpress, the U.S. ecommerce arm of Chinese internet giant Alibaba, and you'll be squared away in no time. I say this because there's stuff here that nobody has ever heard of, much of which never should have been made. This makes them perfect gifts for game weirdos. Like I always say, if you can't please them, confuse them!!
I've been browsing AliExpress a fair bit lately, so I'll share with you my top 7 "categories of thing to buy a games person." I've done the work so you don't have to!
For that person in your life who isn't quite certain which Sonic the Hedgehog character is their fursona, why not get them a heckton of more-niche-than-the-next Sonic hacks? They're all printed on real cartridges, often with boxes, and they're… definitely somebody's fantasy come true.
Want to be Shadow!? You know you do! How about Metal Sonic? He's in here too. How about Vector the Crocodile from the 32X game Knuckles Chaotix? Why the heck not! Feel like living through someone's entire dang fanfic? I'm not gonna stop you!
My personal favorite is definitely this creepypasta Phantom Sonic, in which Sonic is relentlessly pursued by his shadow self through a nightmarish hellscape.
Speaking of Mario, Famiclones (aka, pirate NES/Famicom systems) are in no short supply over at AliExpress. They're always a crowd pleaser, because a) you never know what games will be on there, b) you never know if they're "real" or hacks, and c) you might get 500 "versions" of the same game.
I've chosen some of the weirdest, most adventurous attempts and repackaging this decades-old system.
I have to admit, I kind of like this look of this one. You know it's going to be total crappy plastic, you know it's going to feel like it came out of a dumpster, but… the colors! They look like they're made out of wax lips! And it's portable! Who could resist!? What games are on it? Uh… One Piece!? Some Mario game with pandas!? Who knows!
This one, meanwhile, makes the list because it's got that all-important "T" button next to A & B, and shares its form factor with about 10,000 LCD games of the 90s.
But speaking of form factor, how about this one right here. Yeah, that's a Famiclone in a GBA clamshell form factor. Heck, I almost want one. What could possibly beat the GBA Clamshell? Oh, there's more. Good luck not buying this Game & Watch famiclone that inexplicably comes with an extra gold famicom-like controller which looks like it's from a totally different set. Four buttons? You got it!!
Nothing could beat that, right? Don't worry… I've got one more here for you.
Yeah. That's a Famiclone housed in a controller that's shaped like Sonic's head. Mixed with like a sunfish maybe? Whatever it is, you've got to have it. Put your sonic hacks on there, you insatiable freak.
And if you're not feeling so adventurous, you can always just get this pirate NES Classic. It's got a lot more games, that's for sure!
Mysterious media players
This category brings me back to the classic days of E3's Kentia Hall. Back in the early 2000s, Kentia Hall at E3 was where all the also-rans and experiments were, as well as legit publishers like SNK who just didn't want to pay to hang out with the big kids. There was always some new "all-in-one" media and game player from an unknown company in Korea, or China, or England. (Remember the B'Ngo? No you don't. Nobody does.)
In that merry old tradition, here are a bunch of weird "personal media players" that also have a bunch of games you've never heard of, emulators, MP3 players, and other oddities on them. First, let's start with the PXP3.
The PXP range has a special place in my heart, because I bought the original PXP, a Famiclone shaped entirely like a PSP, in Shanghai, from an incredulous shop owner. "You know, you can get a real PSP, like loaded up with plenty of games, for just $20 more," he said. "No, I want this one!" I replied. I wanted a weird Famiclone, what can I say! The dude eventually acquiesced and let me buy it for much cheaper than what he was asking. "No returns, buddy." The screen fell off by the time I brought it home.
Anyway! The PXP3 does so much more! It takes cartridges!? It runs MAME? My dear sweet child is growing up!!! Don't leave your lonely papa!
But maybe you're more into that classic Nintendo form factor than you are into Sony's LongBoy™. In that case, rest your peepers on this thing!! It's a GBA clone in a Game Boy Light shell. Honestly, that's just a good idea, and a strong contender for my list of "things Nintendo should actually do."
"But hey," I hear you saying. "Really what I want is a Switch, but I find that it's too convenient to use and is $63 too expensive." I've got you covered with whatever this is! It runs Android, just like the Switch! It's got all the buttons and sticks! It has a processor that's 2x the power, sort of! And it looks like an absolute monster! Seriously, if anyone buys this, let me know what the heck it is
Last but not least, you can't beat this one for weird mashup. It's some sort of all-in-one emulator, with screens of games running from the Famicom to 90s arcade era, all in the delightful form factor of a white Xbox One that bred with a speaker box. Who needs Xbox Live!? True gamers network psychically!! And when the console comes from a company called CoolBaby, you know you're getting quality.
Pirate, prototype, and homebrew games
I (almost) guarantee your pals don't have these games, so there's no danger of overlap with their collection, no matter how grand it may be. Because these are the games that were never meant to be.
Maybe you always wanted to play the Tekken series, but you never bought a console after the 16 bit era. Fear not!! This copy of Tekken 3 Special for Genesis uses renders from Tekken 2, and then adds a whole bunch of nonsense!
Still reeling from (or living out) the 16 bit console wars? You can end them once and for all with Aladdin 2! Remember those schoolyard arguments about which version of Aladdin was better, the Genesis or SNES? Of course you don't remember, you are young like a tiny baby. But uh, anyway, what we've got here is the SNES version of Aladdin ported over to the Genesis, mostly!
But we all know what the holidays are really about: crass, soulless commerce. With that in mind, why not pay actual money to purchase a homebrew Pringles game that benefits almost no-one, but serves to dramatically up the amount of commercialism rocking your Genesis console? You can't resist, I'm telling you to do it!
Arcade collecting is the final frontier. Once you get into this there's basically this bottomless well that you can just dump your money into. Sometimes you'll get working video games out of it! But it's mostly about the dumping. You've got to prove that you have the most dollars and are the coolest arcade kid in town, buying up things nobody else could ever own, like Dion Dakis and the NGF crew.
Sure, we've got your standard jamma many-in-1s. They plug right into your arcade machine and get you plenty of games for your trouble. But why not get a little wackier with this 51-in-1 that appears to only have tate (vertical) shooting games!?
But maybe you don't already have an arcade machine? Maybe you should get one of these Pandoras built into joysticks, with video out? I mean… the MVS version is almost tempting. Oh no, look at this Astro City-like one. Be still, my beating wallet!!
But hey, maybe that's kids stuff for you – if that's true, you need to step up to this gigantic four-player arcade machine with Batman Arkham City on it for no reason.
Ugh, but like… look at this thing. It's a whole mini arcade machine and it's precious. And dang, there's this one! Who made me make this list? I'm writing this dang article so I can get money, and here you jerks are trying to convince me to buy things I don't need.
But like, I do need this crane game alarm clock, right? I mean I'm pretty sure I do. If I fill it with with business cards, it'll be like I'm applying for jobs, every day! Just like you wanted, mom!!
Extra weird stuff
I don't know what else you people want. This is all I've got. This is all I know how to do!!! Maybe… maybe you want this thing that you can put on a car rest and which actually comes with games on disc for some reason? Figure out how to use that, if you even are a true gamer! Or were you just pretending like all the rest!?
Speaking of true gamers, we all mourned when Microsoft killed its motion-sensing ever-watchful Big Brother eyeball peripheral, the Kinect. We're all sad that the Kinect is dead, sure, but hey, at least the imitators aren't! I literally cannot imagine what this actually is! But hey, it's only 30 bucks!!
We've all been there. You're a master ROM hacker, you're living underneath the YMCA like a troll, and you're looking to propose to your significant other on Christmas Eve, because you want to be able to give one gift for Christmas and your anniversary for the rest of your life. There's no shame in that! But how to propose!?
Why not hack Sonic into a Mario game and make them get married and have mustache babies and live out your true fantasies, and print your own freaking cartridge!? That's right: you can print any weird game you've ever found a rom for onto an NES, Genesis, SNES, GBA, or DS cart (though realistically the DS cart just has room for a microSD card in it). The only limits are your imagination!
Bring your favorite hacks into the physical world! Embrace capitalism!! B e c o m e g o d ! ! ! It's all here on AliExpress!!!! Happy Holidays!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!