For Christmas this year we decided we wanted our kids to know the joy of smacking a poorly detailed digital figure with a turtle shell. As our previous experience with Wii had failed, our best option for our kids to play Nintendo brand names such as Mario, was to go retro. Now, if you have kids, the whole wireless controller thing is huge plus. So, I set my Google prowess to finding a retro-gaming option with wireless controllers. My first exploration was the Retron5, but after much reading I found many felt the controllers, well, sucked. Luckily, somewhere in my 10-gajillion-miles-long nerd forum reading, I stumbled on something called the Mad Catz M.O.J.O. Once I started researching it, I was sort of pissed we ever bought an X-box 360, but also that I’d never heard a word about this beast when it was released back in 2013. It turned out to be the ultimate kid’s screen-time machine.
What is the Mad Catz M.O.J.O.?
The M.O.J.O., made by Mad Catz (a name you may recognize as gaming controller manufacture), is a mini android console. Basically, it takes the android platform so many of us have learned to love on smartphone and tablets, and chucks it into a console that connects to your TV and utilizes wireless controllers.
This means you can not only run retro-gaming emulators so your kids can play N64, Super Nintendo, Nintendo, Sega, Atari—even newer systems like Xbox—but you can also do anything you do on your tablet on it. The majority of the games in the Google Play store work. You can watch Netflix or Amazon Prime. You can browse the Internet. You can access social media. You can even stream movies from sites such as Project Free TV. It’s freaking awesome!
One of our biggest issue with our kids getting a tablet was that the screen, even on an iPad, was so small. They would be constantly looking down, which can lead to “text neck.” Plus, on a small screen in their lap it’s hard to monitor what they’re doing over there. Are they playing Flapping Birds or watching inappropriate stuff on YouTube somehow? The M.O.J.O takes their tablet to the big screen where I can see what they are doing easily and so can they—without looking down. It’s even multiplayer.
OK, so what’s the downside?
Naturally, there is no perfect gaming system, so what’s not to love about the M.O.j.O? I do have a few complaints.
First, there is no power button. You can’t turn it off. It just goes into sleep mode after so much inactivity, which just seems dumb, and I suspect may continue to drag bandwidth in cases (it’s Wi-Fi connective, of course). I unplug mine when we aren’t using it.
Second, initial setup is a bit more complicated than traditional consoles that you just plug in and play if you want to do more than play android games on a big screen with a controller. (I’ll be adding an I’m-no-techy guide to setting up popular options here in a minute). Once you have it all installed, you shouldn’t have to re-do it, but that first time took some reading for me and lots of cursing at an inanimate object.
Lastly, my biggest what-the-hell Mad Catz? When I was researching this it sounded super cheap. They run $149, but are regularly on sale for $99, and I scored mine off Amazon with free shipping during a promotion from Ebates where I got 10% cash back, so $89, not too shabby. The catch is the console only comes with one controller, and they are expensive. I mean over $45 per controller and you don’t really see them used on Ebay or anything. All the reviews seem to side step this by saying, “Oh, you can use xbox 360 controllers!” However, when mine arrived, our existing 360 controllers didn’t work. A little more digging into tech support, and it turns out only Mad Catz brand 360 controllers are compatible. Those, as far as I can see, are wired controllers which cost a lot. I then had to endure several weeks of the kids fighting over the single controller while I searched for cheaper multiples. I ended up finding some at Amazon Warehouse Deals, but I still paid $35 a pop. This ran my $89 system up to $194 to have 4 controllers so our 3 boys and their dad could play at once. Would I have bought it if I’d have known that? No, because I’m cheap. Would I have now that I‘ve tried it? Yes, because it’s awesome.
I’m not entirely sure why the M.O.J.O isn’t more popular or why their marketing team never thought to pitch it as a gaming system for kids, but I love it.
Setting up online movies and retro gaming on the Mad Catz M.O.J.O:
Back there, I promised an I’m-no-techy set-up guide for popular options. In this cases that’s:
-Kodi for online movie watching via things like OneChannel and Putlocker
-A retro emulator (in this case Mupen64 for N64 roms)
The other options for the M.O.J.O are as easy as downloading your favorite games or music from Google Play. Netflix and YouTube work as well.
Setting up Kodi on the Mad Catz M.O.J.O:
First, you have to download the Kodi app. That’s available at Googe Play and doesn’t cost anything. Once it’s complete, you have access to a lot straight from the Kodi add on bank, but for options like Project Free TV, 1Channel, Genesis, Putlocker, and other popular streaming options for newer movies, you need to add SuperRepo. The Fusion installer is another commonly suggested option, but I couldn’t get it to work on the M.O.J.O, probably because their configuration doesn’t have an option for the M.O.J.O. The android option kept failing for me.
Anyway, how do you get SuperRepo?
There is a really nice guide with step-by-step pictures straight from SuperRepo found here. Though if you aren’t a visual learner, here’s a text version. Go to System>File Manager (within the Kodi App)
Click “Add source.”
Type http://srp.nu, hit done, then give the source a name, like “SuperRepo,” click ok, and exit back to the Kodi main screen.
Now go to Sysmtem>add ons>install from zip and click the source you just created. You should be met with 3 file options. As of this review (January, 2016) the correct file was Isengard, but you may want to check your version of Kodi to be sure. (Here’s a guide for that)
Inside, select all, and then the only file listed, which should say something like repository.superrepo (the file name seems to change over time.) Click that, and wait for it to install. Exit to the main screen, go to System > Add ons > Get Add-ons and select the SuperRepo add on repository. You can then select which add ons you want, such as 1Channel.
This streaming source is popup free, though broken links are common (as they are when watching from a PC). I love that it allows me to watch without using extra speakers or hooking my laptop up.
Setting up retro-gaming on the Mad Catz M.O.J.O
There are lots of emulators out there, and their setup is all very similar, so I’m going to just cover one, the first one I installed. Mupen64 is an N64 emulator. You can download it from the Google Play store for free, though there is a paid version to support development.
Once installed, you need game rom files.
What’s a rom?
A copy of the game itself from the cartridge you may remember playing as a kid. If you’re like, “Well, where the fiddle sticks do I get that?!?” Don’t worry, there are some nice, and free, sources for rom downloads online. I’ve been using doperoms.com. You can either download them to a usb chip and plug it into your M.O.J.O or more simply navigate to the site via the M.O.J.O’s browser and download them straight to your system. These roms have a code. For instance, Super Smash Brothers. You’ll see file names like this:
Super Smash Bros. (U) [!].zip
Super Smash Bros. (E) [!].zip
The letter in ( ) represents the country the game is for. U for USA, UK for England, E for Europe, J for Japan, G for German, and so on. The code in [ ] represents the quality and version of the game, there are lots of codes, but for simplicity’s sake you want the ! that means it’s a good verified copy that works. So, if you are from the US you want files that say,
Game Name. (U) 
Once the download has finished, open Mupen64. Select, “Game” and then navigate to your rom file (this will be in downloads if you used the M.O.J.O browser. Select the file, then hit play. Make sure your controller is switched to game mode (switch on the front of the controller, turn it all the way left) If you don’t, our controller buttons won’t work.
The nice thing about the M.O.J.O’ controller is they are already mapped, it really is just like playing on the old N64 controllers.
Here’s a short video of the spawn playing so you can see quality.
Multiple players? How did I do that?
First, you have to add more controllers to the system. Go to “Bluetooth” in the Mad Catz M.O.J.O settings themselves. Turn on the new controller, then hold start for a few second until the red and blue flashing Mad Catz symbol goes purple. Tell the console to search for devices, once it finds the controller hit connect.
Repeat as necessary for your number of controllers.
In Mupen64, go to settings>input, scroll down to controllers, turn on as many as you need (you’ll need mouse mode or the middle setting on your controller.)
Exit to the main Mupen64 screen, hit play, you’ll be asked to configure multiple player. Select controller one, have the desired player one hit some buttons and jiggle the joy sticks until it registers that’s controller one (takes like 2 seconds), repeat for desired controllers. You can have up to 4 players. Be sure all four switch to play mode (all the way left.)
Then just hit play.
If you decide to get a M.O.J.O or have one already, I’d love to hear your thoughts, tips, or tricks as I am just learning how to do things with it as well.