The original Nintendo Game Boy was the size of a hotel bible, required four AA batteries, and only played games in black and white.
Evan Amos, Wikimedia
Game Boy is one of the best-selling game consoles Nintendo’s ever made — that includes the original Nintendo Entertainment System and the enormously popular Nintendo Wii.
Beautiful, isn’t it?
But one ambitious gentleman thought he could make it even more beautiful. Behold: The updated Nintendo Game Boy, with the ability to play games from the original Nintendo through to the Game Boy Advance, including Sega’s consoles, the Super Nintendo, and some old arcade games!
Not a bad look, right? Being able to play “Super Mario World” — arguably the best “Super Mario” game ever made — on the go is fantastic. So what makes this thing tick? Check it out.
This magically updated Game Boy started life as a standard Game Boy. Here it is after having two holes drilled out of its face:
The drilling was to make space for two new buttons, acting as the X and Y buttons like the Super Nintendo gamepad:
They were culled from an original NES gamepad, thus the fire-engine red:
Beyond adding two buttons, this updated Game Boy also has a 3.5-inch composite display — a major upgrade over the black-and-white visuals of the OG.
Powering all this new stuff is a new internal processor: the Raspberry Pi Zero. It’s a tiny computer that’s far more powerful than the original Game Boy’s internals.
Here it is jammed inside the Game Boy:
Since the Raspberry Pi Zero doesn’t have Bluetooth connectivity, it had to be added to this little guy. That means you could use a wireless controller with it — important if you decide to plug it into a TV, which you totally can.
There’s also a rechargeable battery, which gets power via microUSB (like most phones/tablets/etc.).
The updates don’t end there: An original Game Boy cartridge was modded to serve as a microSD-card reader. It contains hundreds, maybe even thousands, of games.
The Raspberry Pi Zero runs an emulator, “Emulation Station,” which serves as a simple menu system for selecting which retro game console you want to play.
This is what it’s like having a gigantic selection of gaming classics in the palm of your hand, able to go anywhere you want.
But you should really see this beauty in action. Check out this video for a closer look at the retro update in action!