Who needs the Nintendo Switch when you can have the Smach Z? It’s a customizable handheld gaming device that claims to be able to play all the biggest titles on the market. It promises to be capable of HD streaming, emulators, and you can even hook it up to a TV. Really sounds like everything Nintendo wants the Switch to be.

It found success on Kickstarter quickly. Launched on October 18th, the system has already been funded. It currently sits at over $327,000 of its $271,990 goal, and it’s still climbing.

The Smach Z is being developed by the Smach team, composed of developers and designers with over a decade of experience. They’ve teamed up with ImasD to manufacture the handheld. They say they want to reintroduce handheld gaming back into the market, since mobile gaming is on the rise. “We need good games to play,” the page reads, “real games for gamers, on a dedicated gaming platform more than ever.”

What is the Smach Z?

It’s a powerful handheld device being designed to play console quality games on the go. It’ll have Steam support right out of the box, and the Smach Team are hoping to developers to make games exclusively for the system. It’s also almost fully customizable, allowing buyers to choose between Windows 10 or Linux for its operating system, as well as several button layouts that can be swapped out.

smachz01The Smach Team gives a full list of system specs. The AMD Merlin Falcon RX-421BD (12-15w) SoC at 2.1 GHz CPU powers the system, there’s also the Radeon R7 at 800 MHz, five hours of batter, and a 5 inch screen. They list a series of benchmarks for popular games as well. They say the system can run Metro: Last Light Redux at 720p, 35 FPS. Overwatch also runs at 720p and 30 FPS.

There will be two models, the Standard and the Pro. The Pro version will have 8GB of RAM, while the Standard will only have 4GB. Other differences include a 128GB hard-drive versus a 64GB, a front facing camera on the Pro, and 4G compatibility versus only WiFi on the Standard.

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Steamy

You have to hand it to the Smach Team, they’ve created quite a pitch. The Kickstarter page is bursting at the seams with all the info you’d ever want, almost. There are graphs and charts demonstrating this things power and capabilities and what it can do. It doesn’t have the problems that the Ouya had, which was the limited library. The Smach Z will have Steam support, and while they haven’t attracted any exclusive developers yet, the Smach Team is gunning for a few. But there are concerns.

This isn’t the first, nor likely the last, console that’s appeared on Kickstarter. The infamous Ouya found even more success than the Smach Z but turned out to be a bust. There’s also been the GameStick and the often overlooked GCW-Zero, not to mention the Oculus Rift. But most of those systems have been busts, and the Oculus Rift was never released under its original creators, instead being sold to Facebook before launch. Is the Smach Z destined to follow that path?

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$300,000 isn’t much for a video game console, even something like this. Kicktraq projects the Smach Z to raise over $2.5 million, which still isn’t much. $2.5 million is the fraction of the budget for some games. It’s the budget of some Kickstarter games, a fraction of what some have received. Any potential backer has to wonder if the Smach Team will have enough capital to produce the Smach Z on a large scale, without selling to a third party like so many tech companies do.

Be prepared to pay

The Smach Z is also expensive. Early Bird backers were able to get it for about $273 and $306, with the standard price for the Standard edition being $328. The Early Bird tiers for the Pro were snatched up right away, so if you want one of those you’re going to have to pony up $548. That’s almost as much as the infamous $600 price of the PlayStation 3 at launch.

For that, we’ll have to wait and see. Everything seems on the up and up for now, with the Smach Team demonstrating they at least know how to pitch the system. They’re aiming to ship to backers in April 2017 with a general release in December 2017.

Josh Griffiths

Josh Griffiths

Executive Editor
Josh Griffiths is a writer and amateur historian. He has a passion for 3D platformers, narrative-driven games, and books. Josh is also Cliqist’s video producer. He’s currently working on his first novel, and will be doing so on and off for the next decade.
Josh Griffiths

@Josh_BadWriter

Covering indie games at @TripleEyeGaming. Freelance writer. Being a dog owner is 90% of my personality.
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Josh Griffiths
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