Wanle Gamers Console for iPhone
Price: £18.99 from fave.co/2xQoMNe
Available for every iPhone model from 6 to X, the Wanle Gamers Console for iPhone is undeniably a conversation piece, although experience tells me that some of those conversations might occasionally involve someone sternly telling you to shut up. From what I can tell, the ‘Sound’ button doesn’t actually silence the case, which means you should never expect to play the 27 games packed
within while you’re in a hushed reception room or waiting for a movie to begin. It might start chirping when you slip it in your pocket or when you hold the phone the ‘wrong’ way when making a call.
Wanle’s case looks like a Game Boy from a few feet away, right down to the yellow-green display and the two jauntily slanted grey buttons perched below the directional pads and action buttons. You have to flip your phone upside down in order to play it – as the rear camera hole would get in the way of the Wanle case’s screen if held normally – but otherwise that’s all it takes to start enjoying the games. The only real setup involves slipping one of the two coin‑sized batteries that come with the package into the case, attaching the case to your phone, and hitting the power button.
Just don’t expect a Game Boy-like gaming experience with its £18.99 price tag. It may look like Nintendo’s handheld device, but Wanle’s case has far more in common with the little one‑off handheld games on sale in the 1980s, where the basic action and graphics barely changed and you sometimes had to use your imagination to get the most of out if. In other words, if you’re planning on slapping down cash on this so you can play Game Boy classics such as Super Mario Land, Gargoyle’s Quest, or Battletoads, you’ve seriously got the wrong idea.
The Wanle case’s screen looks to simpler times, in stark contrast to the iPhone’s retina screen and TrueDepth camera that scans faces and lets you play Fortnite. From a distance, in fact, you could easily mistake almost all 27 Wanle games for Tetris.
It’s all so abstract that it’s not always clear which game you’re playing. That’s partly because the games don’t even have names. Instead, each game corresponds to an arbitrary letter of the alphabet and you need to scroll one at a time to select one. As you scroll, the bricks at the top rearrange themselves to resemble a letter while the ones in the middle act out a preview of the game you’ll play. Meanwhile, the bricks at the bottom spell out the level you’ll start at, which can be changed by pressing the left or right buttons on the D-pad. Somehow, the system manages to be simple and confusing at the same time.
I scrolled to ‘E’ to find the Frogger knock‑off, in which I manoeuvred a single block through rows of moving bricks. The letter ‘D’ let me play a Galaga clone, although I had to imagine the missiles since they
didn’t show up on screen. Games I‑Z are all variants on Tetris, ranging from the standard tile‑matching puzzler to one that made the stack of blocks move to the right every few seconds.
As for its actual effectiveness as a case? It depends. Aside from the fact that it saddles you with two screens to worry about (and Wanle’s is extraordinarily prone to scratches), the case itself seems perfectly capable taking a few punches as long as they’re aimed at the iPhone’s back. It’s thick, for one, and the rubbery buttons may even allow for a little ‘bounce’ when it falls. (My one real problem is that the circular battery is visible through the white version of the case.)
While it might protect the back, however, I wouldn’t put too much faith in this case as a defender against shattered screens. Since it rests flush against the front of the phone, there’s little protection against dreaded display-down drops. And considering that the iPhone’s display faces the pavement when you’re playing the case, that’s more than a little terrifying. One careless drop in a moment of frustrated gaming, and boom, there’s an expensive screen repair on your hands.
But in certain, specific instances, it’s a case I’d like to use. When I’m out with friends and that inevitable moment comes up when I whip out my phone to check the time or take a photo, I’m almost certain one of those friends is going to notice it. In fact, I’m almost as certain that one of them will want to talk about it and probably want to give it a try. Though if I’m being honest, I’ll be watching them closely the whole time to make sure they don’t drop it, which kind of defeats the purpose of it being a case.
The Wanle Gamers Console is too prone to making noises at inopportune times for use as a daily carry, and its dicey display protection makes it a dubious candidate for protection. Still, it does a remarkable job of looking like a Nintendo Game Boy and the games, while simple, are fun and varied. Plus, considering you can pick one up for just under £19, it’ll make a fun conversation piece for parties or outings with friends. Leif Johnson
That’s basically Frogger, believe it or not
The case doesn’t extend far past the display, which means you’ll likely be in trouble if your phone hits the ground screen-first