The Lyra Handheld Game Console (£229 / $300) is attempting to change that. After a successful launch in July 2019, Kickstarter veteran Creoqode set out to make a handheld
gaming system that looked the part, was easy to assemble, and was more powerful
than any other Raspberry Pi-powered handheld game console on the market at the
time. The result is Lyra, a handheld game console that is available in kit form (or fully
assembled if you fear nuts and bolts) and utilises the power of Raspberry Pi
Computer Module 3 Lite. Unlike many other Raspberry Pi-based handheld game consoles available today, the
Lyra resembles the form factor of a Sony PSP and Nintendo’s Game Boy Advance,
which makes a nice change to the tried-and-tested Game Boy-style systems, along
with the bonus of a larger, widescreen display.
When the Lyra arrived, we were impressed with the packaging, which can double up
as a protective case when your Lyra is not in use, and the quality of the parts in the
kit – we loved having the option of clear or black buttons to choose from.
As we are partial to a bit of tinkering, we opted for the kit version, so we had to assemble our Lyra ourselves. Whilst there were no physical instructions provided, the online
tutorial is packed with detailed photos and step-by-step instructions and we had our
Lyra assembled in under 15 minutes. The fiddliest part was attaching the screen when closing the case! For convenience, Creoqode has created a custom-built image that utilises RetroPie, so once this was downloaded and flashed to our microSD card, we were up and running in no time. It’s a shame that a manual install guide was not available for those who prefer setting up RetroPie to work on the Lyra themselves, especially as pre-build SD card images can quickly become outdated.
Small but mighty
One thing we liked about the Lyra was the inclusion of the Raspberry Pi Compute
Module 3 Lite (CM3L). Whilst pricier than a Raspberry Pi Zero, the CM3L brings the
power and small footprint that is perfect for a handheld game console.
The CM3L clips into Creoqode’s custom-made circuit board and whilst the lack of WiFi is a
shame, the micro-USB port allows you to connect your own USB devices (with the
help of an adapter) for Internet connectivity. The addition of an HDMI port allows you
to connect your Lyra directly to a large display / TV, which is great for gaming at
home too. We did notice that the case didn’t quite close perfectly, so small gaps were visible by
the micro-USB charging and headphone ports, and the lack of a screen protector
was a shame, but the performance of the Lyra is second to none in a competitive
market for handheld gaming.
8/10 The Lyra is a great product in a competitive market. Assembly was straight forward
and the power the CM3L brings is fab. The case could be better, but for gaming on
the go, it is ideal.