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Conclusion

This is a project that I started a few years ago, and it's finally finished: I have a stock-looking GameBoy that has a CPU that is a good few hundred times as powerful as the original and a GPU that I don't even want to compare with the 2d tile pusher that was in the GameBoy. It can run most of the original GameBoy cartridges, as well as GameBoy Color ones and cartridges that have Raspberry Pi native games as well as those from other consoles.

Was the end result it worth it? Hell no, there is a reason most people who want something like the original GameBoy end up replacing the screen for something that can display a bit more than four shades of baby-vomit green. It's an interesting curiosity, but if I actually want to play a game, I'll start up my PC or Switch.

Was the journey worth it? I think so. It was interesting to see if I could fit a modern system into the form factor of a late '80s game console, and still make everything look original. It was fun to get the state machines to deal with the startup and splash screens just right. And hey, if someone accidentally picks up the unit, I get to gaslight them about the various games that 100% for sure were released for the GameBoy back in the day.

I've chucked all the things I wrote for this on Github so if you see something in this project that you can use, you can grab it from there. Note that the PCB artwork and schematics are still exactly like how I produced my PCB; if you copy that, you need to integrate the bodges I outlined as well as check the layout of the holes, especially around the cartridge connector.

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8 comments

Daniel wrote at 5 Jul 2021, 22.01:

Really impressive work! maybe backlight and bivert can help when playing. Backlight just need power but installing bivert is not a easy job right?

Mat Azel wrote at 1 Jul 2021, 11.48:

Great read! very impressive project! I love how newer game look how they did on my Ti-89 calculator (homebrew games used asm and flashing pixels for greyscale) I'm not very knowledgeable about the Pi Zero (let alone the Pi), so I'm not sure if there's a Ti-89/92 emulator, that can use savestates (yeah because using a calculator with 4 buttons sound complicated lol), but you might find cool homebrew games in there, fitting your exact setup, who know :) congrats again!

Bryn wrote at 30 Jun 2021, 10.33:

Once again, a great read! Nice work Sprite!

Sprite_tm wrote at 30 Jun 2021, 9.55:

Daid: I agree, and I used Gnuboy mostly because I'm familiar with its source code and it's 'good enough'. I may port it over to a better emu when i run into games it mis-emulates.

Daid wrote at 30 Jun 2021, 8.36:

Awesome job! Not that gnuboy is a pretty bad emulator and will fail at correctly emulating various games. SameBoy is one of the most accurate open source emulators out there. It can even emulate the hum you get on the speakers from the DC/DC converter.

Sprite_tm wrote at 28 Jun 2021, 3.15:

Richard: In case you're serious, DMG = Dot Matrix Game, as in DMG01 is the model number of the first Game Boy.

franky wrote at 27 Jun 2021, 23.03:

Amazing. Always a pleasure to read about your projects. :)

Richard Nobel wrote at 27 Jun 2021, 18.28:

Very interesting project again! By the way, DMGPlus = "DoMburG Plus"? ;)

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