In 2023, a Game Boy replica the size of… a bank card

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For many (retro)gamers, the start of the 1990 school year undoubtedly has a special place in their memories. And for good reason, a few days after the start of the school year, on September 28 very precisely, Nintendo launched in stores the very first portable console in its history, a certain Game Boy. A console then powered by a Sharp Z80 processor clocked at 4.1 Mhz, associated with 8 KB of RAM, not to mention a 160 x 144 pixel screen, with 4 shades of gray… Not enough to revolutionize the world of video games at first. view, and yet…

A Game Boy nano on Kickstarter

In 2022, the little Nintendo Game Boy still enjoys a very special aura. The Analogue company has also been offering a small console called Pocket for several months, allowing (in its basic version) to read the original Game Boy cartridges. Also, there are many to do”modder” their Game Boy, to give it a facelift, notably by adding a beautiful IPS screen.

A portable console that retains an aura intact more than thirty years later, so many companies are trying (with more or less talent) to ride this nostalgic wave. This is the case of this small Arduboy Mini console, a Kickstarter project, proposed by Kevin Bates, whose funding has already exceeded the objective (43,500 dollars for an initial objective of 10,000 dollars).

Despite its name, Arduboy is not yet another replica of the Game Boy, however. Indeed, this Mini version is neither more nor less than”an 8-bit console on a small motherboard“. If the basic Arduboy already displayed compact dimensions, this Mini version breaks records in terms of miniaturization, with always the open source aspect specific to Arduboy.

According to its creator, the Arduboy Mini benefits from a reduced sale price, and is more affordable than ever for all those who wish to experience the joys of game development on 8-bit hardware, especially in schools. “Teachers around the world have used the Arduboy as an important part of teaching computer science” explains Kevin Bates. The mini console is compatible with the various games already available, 300 being pre-installed in the machine.

Despite its ultra-compact side (48 x 32 x 8 mm), the machine comes with a small OLED screen (in 128 x 64 pixels), a total of six buttons (not to mention a Reset button on the back), a port USB… and that’s it. The machine is powered by a 16 MHz ATmega32u4 processor, and has no form of shell, the screen and the buttons being directly grafted to the motherboard.

In reality, the “tweaking” side is more than encouraged here, at the software level, but also at the level of the machine itself, the latter being devoid of loudspeaker and battery. The components for adding a speaker and a rechargeable lithium battery are available, but first you will need to connect the Arduboy Mini to a USB-C socket.

In terms of availability, the Arduboy Mini will not be shipped to its first buyers before June 2023. The unit price is set at $29, but it is possible to take advantage of certain discounts by purchasing the machine in packs of ten. And you, were you more Game Boy or Game Gear at the time?

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