For a number of years now China has been producing knock off video games machines, which as well as being absolutely illegal here, feature thousands of games. They started with the Pandora's Box, which housed the games in a nice little double arcade stick, but pretenders to the throne shot up everywhere, to the point that there're now almost endless numbers and iterations. But the most reputable are the original Pandora's Box and a make of console called the Pandora's Key.
It's still confusing when you're on Ebay and there're 4 or 5 options for you to choose from, which is why the makers of the original Pandoras' Box have released the Pandora Box DX. It's like they've drawn a line under the past versions (the 4S, 5S, 6, 7, 9S to name but a few) and started again. It's also not available on Ebay at the time of writing (which is rare in itself). You can pick it up for £218 from Amazon. So what can you expect from the brand new Pandora Box DX? Is it merely evolution or a revolution? Have they put the pretenders on notice? For the sake of this review I'll be comparing the DX to a Pandora's Key 5S just to see how far along we have (or haven't) come.
The early signs are good. One of the areas that these machines traditionally fall down is in the quality of the hardware. The Pandora's Key I'm comparing the DX to has Joysticks that have too much play in them (in other words they're too loose) and buttons that are notoriously soft (and that get stuck down quite often). The whole unit is quite tacky, it's lighter than it looks because of its' acrylic top. None of which is true of the Pandora Box DX. It's reassuringly heavy (it has heft) and the Joysticks and buttons, though not Sanwa's, are of a much higher standard.
The start up message states that '...the battle continue.' (this is not a spelling mistake) Which says to me that the makers of the DX know they're in a fight for the hearts and minds of gamers. But what about the games? Well I bought my Pandoras' Key 5S about 3 years ago and it has 1299 games. As you'd expect the Pandora Box DX has newer retro titles (which is of course a double negative) and a great many more games overall numbering up to 3000. Amongst these there're new 3D ones, mainly from the Playstation. These include amongst others, Street Fighter EX 1 and 2, Tekken and Capcom VS SNK (not 3D, but also, rather disappointingly, not the Dreamcast version). And although the 5S has none of these, the two machines do share a great many games. But with the same games, come the same problems.
For example, there are more King Of Fighters games on both of these machines than I care to count, as well as having the whole series, there're numerous bootlegs with cheats built in. The same is true of Street Fighter 2. Other than these games, though, the 5S is a little heavy with Neo Geo titles and again there are many doubles. The DX has less of them, but they've been replaced by Super Nintendo titles. This is not a bad thing for the record, because they're not endless copies of the same game.
Another area that the Pandora Box DX outshines the older 5S is in its interface. With the older machine you can pause the games and also make a list of your favourites. But the newer DX allows you to do these too, but the games are pre sorted into types like Action, and Sports. You can also search through all of the games in the inbuilt database as well as change games' controls. But the best feature is the ability to save your games at any point you like. This may be old news for console games, but this is new for Pandora boxes, and drags them kicking and screaming into the modern day. What doesn't though is the fact that the Pandora Box DX only outputs at 720p. Even the 3 year old 5S does this, so I don't think it's unreasonable to want and expect more.
Good mixture of Titles
Improved functionality and gaming options
only outputs in 720p
Far too many double games