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The GameKing is an 8-bit handheld game console produced by the Chinese company TimeTop since 2003. It is based around a 65C02 CPU running at 6.0 MHz and exists in two variations, the original GameKing and the GameKing II, with mostly aesthetic and ergonomic differences.
The consoles have above-average sound circuitry capable of multi-channel music and digital sound playback, but have quite inexplicably been equipped with an incredibly poor quality black and white LCD screen, only supporting four shades of grey and having a very low (48 by 32 pixels) resolution, combined with a slow refresh rate, poor readability and adjustments, compared to the original Game Boy.
The quality of its games, graphics wise, can be compared to some of the best built-in cell phone games (excluding Java games), while their playing speed (scrolling etc.) and audio is far superior to those found on cell phones (multi-channel music and digitized samples and voices are quite common in GameKing games).
Models and features
The original GameKing console is fashioned to look like Nintendo's Game Boy Advance and comes in a wide array of vivid pastel colours, either opaque or transparent, and uses 2 AAA size batteries. The original GameKing lacks a backlit screen, a feature which has been added in its "successor", the GameKing II.
The GameKing II, on the other hand, is fashioned to look like Sony's PlayStation Portable, comes in more sober colors (either black, grey, white or aqua - but yellow ones do exist), and uses 3 AAA size batteries, of which only 2 are used to actually power up the GameKing's hardware, while the third one serves to power up both its built-in audio amplifier (a bit more powerful than the one on the original GameKing) and its backlit LCD screen (which can be turned on and off at will, depending on external lighting conditions, thus saving power). The unit can still work with 2 batteries, only with no sound and no backlighting available.
Also, the GameKing II has a fixed color background picture for its LCD screen, only visible when the backlighting is switched on. This is probably to give the false impression of having a colour LCD screen, as implied on its box.
The picture may vary between various GameKing models, however it has a mostly negative effect on screen readability when the backlighting is turned on.
This background picture can also be removed or replaced simply by opening the machine and removing the small plastic transparency behind the LCD. Removing it makes using the backlighting much more effective. Notes: Likewise with the GK, no page exists for the GKII, but the Chinese site stills lists the machine as product code GM-219.
GK "I" vs. GK II
However, the two models are fully hardware compatible, can use the same games/cartridges, both have volume and contrast controls and use the same LCD screen. Also, they both have an external DC power supply 3.5 mm minijack plug; however, the plug is not labelled as such, and its function is only slightly hinted at in the units' manuals. The GameKing requires 3V DC, while the GameKing2 requires 4.5V DC with the peculiarity of needing to keep at least one battery in the unit in order to have sound and backlighting.
The Chinese Timetop page has a photo of a GameKing like console named GM-222. It's named there as a Gameking II, but the English page has a slightly different CG picture with GameKing III. Claims to support 37 games, like the original model.
Timetop has also released, or plans to release, a third Gameking machine, called the 'GameKing III'. Although accurate technical information is hard to obtain, it seems to be a handheld console using a 64-colour (or grey shades) LCD or TFT screen, although little else is known about it.
Timetop's site claims it uses a "64 level" LCD screen and that it is compatible with the previous GameKing games. While early advertisements shows that the GameKing III had the same "false color" background picture as the GameKing I and II, which would indicate that the system is actually black and white like the previous GameKing models, the YouTube video in the external links proves that the GameKing 3 is in fact, color. The resolution doesn't seems enhanced compared to an original GameKing, and "classic" GameKing cartridges are automatically colorized, while games especially developed for it allegedly make use of the full color palette, which for the moment remains unknown.
A new design for the GKIII was placed in April 2006 at the Timetop site, and later removed. The site claimed a total of 12 carts for this system.