I purchased this as part of a kit from [vendor name/link removed] that included a joystick, 3 buttons, and a power supply.
[kit link removed]
I opted to not use the included buttons or joystick, but I did use the power supply.
This review will focus on the Game Elf itself.
The very first thing I'd like to point out is that this DOES NOT use a standard jamma harness pinout.
What's different you ask? Button F is normally where a ground would go. So if you use a standard jamma harness, you ground out button F, essentially turning it into an always-on button. This prevents you from navigating any menus, or starting any games.
Once I figured out what the deal was, a quick read through the manual does state that button F should not be wired to ground, but it is all the way at the end of the manual, and not very clear as to the actual purpose of the warning.
I rewired the harness, and booted back up.
I was able to navigate through the menus and start some games.
I would say that about 20% of the games are unplayable, unless you have a large control panel that can support the following all at once FOR EACH PLAYER: 2 joysticks, 6 buttons, a trackball, and a spinner.
Some games require 2 joysticks per player (assault for example), some games require a trackball (millipede for example), and some games require a spinner (arkanoid for example).
The other 80% of the games, from what I've played, all seem to be pretty decent. Most of them are obvious ports or bootlegs of the originals. For example, the dots on ms.pac and variants are exactly the same as the originals. No big deal, the game still plays exactly the same.
Galaga (my favorite game) seems to be identical to the original, as does Dig Dug and Frogger.
When mounting the device to your enclosure, you'll only be able to use 3 of the 4 screws because the flash drive cover obscures the mounting tab. 3 screws is plenty, but for someone with OCD like me, it'll drive you insane.
The volume control knob is a really nice addition, but I would like to see it mounted on the end of a small harness so it could be extended to the exterior of the cabinet if needed. An option would be to just turn it up all the way and add a volume pot to the speaker line.
I have this device plugged into a 20" Dell LCD. All of the games look great, and I am hard pressed to tell it isn't being displayed on an original 19" tube monitor. The graphics all look great.
The system boots up really fast, and I am happy with the speed at which games load.
One thing that has bothered me with this device since day 1 is why they don't use the test and service buttons to enter the admin menus, instead of requiring us to hunt in the dark for the hard to find S1 button that sits flush to the edge on the device. Enabling the use of the admin buttons just makes so much more sense to me.
The admin menu system is very intuitive, and easy to navigate.
All in all, I would say I got a good deal for this, even though I have to disable a decent portion of the games.