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The Gameband aims to put Pong on your wrist

The Gameband brings the classic Atari 2600 to smartwatches. (Source: Gameband Kickstarter)
The Gameband brings the classic Atari 2600 to smartwatches. (Source: Gameband Kickstarter)
The smartwatch runs a version of Android specially tuned for playing games. So far, the Gameband supports some original Atari 2600 games and the indie game Terraria.

Move over, Pixel Miner. There’s a new smartwatch game in town.

FMTwo Game Inc., the company behind the Minecraft focused wearable that popped up in US retailers a few years ago, has launched a new Kickstarter for the Gameband, “the first smartwatch for gamers.” It’s an interesting idea; the Gameband hopes to be a superb smartwatch with gaming-centric features added on. But what exactly does that entail?

On paper, the Gameband looks like a decent enough smartwatch:

  • 1.63” 320 x 320 AMOLED touchscreen
  • Qualcomm Snapdragon Wear 2100 SoC
  • 512 MB RAM
  • 4 GB ROM storage
  • Wifi 802.11n
  • Bluetooth 4.2
  • 400 mAh battery
  • USB 3.0 Type-C port

A defining feature of the Gameband is the inclusion of a microSD card slot and its software. FMTwo Game Inc. says that the microSD card will allow users to load compatible games on their device, as well as music, photos, and other media. The Gameband has Bluetooth 4.2 support, and the company highlights the watch’s ability to play music via wireless headphones or speakers.

The software is where the focus on gaming comes in. Each Edition of the Gameband (more on that in a bit) comes with PixelFurnace, the “iTunes for games that you can take with you and plug in anywhere.” The watch can connect to a computer through its USB Type-C port and load up the app, which allows users to load games onto the watch, buy games through a storefront, or play games they own on the connected computer. But not all games are available to all users.

FMTwo Game Inc. is selling three different versions of the Gameband, called “Editions.” There’s the regular Gameband Edition, the Gameband Atari Edition (for fans of the retro console), and the Gameband Terraria Edition. The Terraria Edition will let players hook their watch up to any PC and load their game of Terraria, a popular indie adventure game in the vein of Minecraft. Unfortunately, the other Editions of the Gameband won’t play Terraria, and it doesn’t look like the Terraria Edition supports Atari games. Backers have already complained about this fragmentation, so the company may respond and remove these boundaries.

All said, the Gameband looks ambitious. However, we have to wonder how well-suited smartwatches are for gaming. Although Atari 2600 games are far from complicated, they still require rudimentary controls that inherently aren’t available on a smartwatch (directional joysticks, anyone?). Touch controls would be very clunky on a 1.6” screen. We’ll have to see if the Gameband becomes a compelling gaming accessory or turns out to be a blip in gaming (and wearable) history.

The Gameband Kickstarter is currently at $55,251 of its $75,000 goal to be met by March 17. FMTwo Game Inc. hopes to start shipping the device to initial backers in September. The Gameband will retail for $199, but early backers can receive up to a $50 discount for funding the Kickstarter.

The Gameband comes in three different versions, or "Editions," that each support different games. (Source: Gameband Kickstarter)
The Gameband comes in three different versions, or "Editions," that each support different games. (Source: Gameband Kickstarter)

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> Notebook / Laptop Reviews and News > News > News Archive > Newsarchive 2017 02 > The Gameband aims to put Pong on your wrist
Sam Medley, 2017-02- 8 (Update: 2017-02- 8)
Sam Medley
Sam Medley - Review Editor - @samuel_medley
I've been a "tech-head" my entire life. After graduating college with a degree in Mathematics, I worked in finance and banking a few years before taking a job as a Systems Analyst for my local school district. I started working with Notebookcheck in October of 2016 and have enjoyed writing news articles and notebook reviews. My areas of interest include the business side of technology, retro gaming, Linux, and innovative gadgets. When I'm not hunched over an electronic device or writing code for a new database, I'm either outside with my family, playing a decade-old video game, or sitting behind a drum set.