The idea of the SMACH Z is quite brilliant. Similar to how the Switch is both a handheld and portable system, SMACH Z is a portable PC. What stands out isn’t the basic concept, as there are similar things on the market, but the fact it has most of the adventures of PC. It’s upgradable, it works with things like Steam, you can save button maps and pretty much anything else a PC gamer would expect.
With such a fantastic sounding device, it’s surprising the E3 demo was a little underwhelming. The developers didn’t have a full working unit, instead there was one connected to a computer, another 3D printed version that was suppose to mimic the final product and finally a computer hooked up to a TV using the same specs as the SMACH Z.
While the device seemed to run everything, besides PUBG, without a problem, though the limited selection included things like Sonic Generations and Diablo III, making it hard to comment on a wider range of titles, the device itself wasn’t that enjoyable of an experience. The included thumbsticks, which are similar to the Steam controller, didn’t track particularly well, nor was it completely functional or complete controls.
The 3D printed version certainly felt like a step in the right direction, with the developer talking about making a thumbstick adapter for those looking for a more traditional experience, so that potentially eliminated some of the problems. They also made it seem very simple to change parts, something that will allow those interesting to keep it long term, but it still seemed very early in development.
For this reason, I don’t want to say SMACH Z is bad, though it didn’t particularly impress me. Instead, it felt like multiple pieces that could come together to make a fantastic product, though it’s hard to say if it meets it’s potential. For this reason I’d say I’m cautiously optimistic/pessimistic, since the pieces are there and the developers clearly care, going so far as to say a carrying case is included with purchase, they just have a ways to go if they plan on finishing sometime this year.