Have you ever had the urge to play original PlayStation or Super NES games on an original Game Boy? Tired of breaking out the Apple II every time you want to play Ultima? Apparently, you’re not alone, as Reddit user “wermy” demonstrated a couple of days ago. He improved on Nintendo’s vision of the 1989 handheld by installing emulators on a built-in Raspberry Pi computer with just a handful of tweaks.
While a number of users across the web have involved themselves in similar projects, this person in particular has taken the initiative a step further by replacing the screen with a full-color, fully backlit display, L and R/X and Y buttons, an SD card full of ROMs built into a placebo cartridge, and even a Bluetooth dongle, as seen in the video below.
I reached out to “wermy,” only to find out that his real name is Warner Skoch, a mobile app developer by day and hardware connoisseur by night.
For about two weeks, Skoch spent his downtime dedicated to transforming a nearly 30-year-old handheld into a would-be hot collector’s item for classic game enthusiasts. And he did it for the reason you’d presumably expect.
“I’ve always been obsessed with all kinds of gaming handhelds since I was a kid, but the original Game Boy has always been my favorite — probably more nostalgia than anything,” Skoch told Digital Trends. “Electronics and programming [are] also a big hobby of mine, so I guess it seemed like a logical progression!”
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The “Game Boy Zero,” as he calls it, takes advantage of a Raspberry Pi Zero microcomputer as well as a USB-based Teensy development board, which was used to customize the controller’s behavior, Skoch says. As to why he opted to use both boards in conjunction with one another, he explained:
“Right now [the controller] acts as a keyboard, sending key down/up events, but using the teensy instead of the GPIO pins makes super easy to change that to different keyboard keys, or even HID joystick events if I wanted to. Just more flexible I guess, and makes it easier to upgrade the Pi in the future if I want.”
Most curious is the inclusion of both a USB hub in the system, complete with Bluetooth functionality. That way, if the additional input controls weren’t enough, you can hook up a wireless controller to the Game Boy for some added versatility. Skoch commented that not only is the Game Boy compatible with Bluetooth gamepads, but that essentially, this feature was implemented because “why not?”
Although only the Super Nintendo version of Donkey Kong Country is shown in the video, Skoch boasts that his monstrosity of a creation can run titles from a diverse lineup of platforms, including the original PlayStation, and to an extent, the Nintendo 64.
Unfortunately, Skoch suggests that “N64 doesn’t seem to run too well, but lots of PS1 games run great. And GBA runs fantastically, which is technically a 32-bit system too.”
So there you have it. The Game Boy that can do (nearly) everything can be yours if you’re willing to indulge in some painstakingly long nights spent tirelessly engineering one. You can see for yourself how this frankenstein was created on Skoch’s official Imgur page.