The ” retrohackers “, also known as “modders”, are those people who are dedicated to making classic video game consoles from scratch. Among his favorites is the portable Game Boy . However, they don’t disgust popular 16-bit home consoles like Nintendo’s NES either .
Much of their work is shared on platforms such as Reddit and Discord . They also have their own profiles on sites such as Instagram or YouTube where they show how they carry out the process of modifying the devices. It’s no wonder the Game Boy is among your favorite consoles to “tinker with.” Since its launch in 1989, and until its discontinuation in 2008, Nintendo’s laptop has sold hundreds of millions of units.
The idea to modify the popular console arose due to the tendency of the Japanese company to make affordable and efficient gaming systems. In the case of the Game Boy, this translated into a team that was one step behind in technological advancements, according to Wired .
Current technology to go back to the nineties
Most “retro hackers” who modify Game Boys do so using a Raspberry Pi , which is a simple computer board that includes an SoC, RAM, CPU, SD slot, and audio and video input and output ports, among other things. Within the Raspberry Pi there are two options: the Raspberry Pi Zero, which has the original version or the W (with WiFi), and the Raspberry Pi 3, which has the version 3 or 3+. This difference is important to know what type of console will be created.
Thus, with the Raspberry Pi Zero, users will be able to create a smaller and more portable console, while the Raspberry Pi 3 is a much larger board, so the console will be heavier and larger.
The “hardware” is complemented by software to make the equipment work. One of the operating systems most commonly used in Raspberry Pi is backfoot, based on Raspbian, which lets you play games arcade , game consoles and PC classic with minimal configuration, but also provides configuration tools for users more advanced customize the system as wish.
Once they choose the console board, the “retro hackers” look for a case, which allows the Raspberry Pi to be more protected. In this sense, the casing must be compatible with the model of the chosen plate. There is a wide variety of covers to dress the devices. Also, sometimes, the retrohackers themselves create and sell their own cases with designs of all kinds. For example, Boxy Pixel is a company that sells metal cases for Game Boy “modders” that give the console a better look with aluminum.
The Raspberry Pi can be connected to the television or to a monitor with an HDMI connector, but to create a console that is most similar to the Game Boy, the next step would be to choose a screen for the laptop, depending on the chosen case. Other elements that the “retro hackers” include to create a classic game console from scratch are a switch to turn off and on, a battery, game buttons (if it is an arcade console) or SNES controllers and a speaker, among others.
Game Boys with screens bigger than an iPhone
When the “retrohackers” finish their classic game consoles, they usually show their creations through different platforms. In the case of InsideGadgets, an online store run by a hardware hacker known as Alex, organizes a chat on Discord in which users raise their ideas and discuss modifications made to the consoles. Alex has created such wacky things as a Game Boy with a 7-inch screen and even a custom cartridge that turns the console into a Bluetooth controller for other systems.