8-Bit Video Game is Best of Retro Gaming on a Shoestring Budget

[Petri] wrote in to show off the 8-bit gaming system and original platformer which he and [Antti] developed. Don’t get us wrong now, it’s impressive that the duo were able to put together what looks like a very interesting game. But we’ve seen many industry-leading video games developed with just one or two people (we’re thinking all the way back to the days of Atari). Nope, what’s most interesting to us is that the console is also their creation. We should note that the title screen was the work of their friend [Juho].

Take this with a grain of salt, as the bottom right image in the vignette obviously includes an Arduino. But isn’t it a testament to the state of open hardware and the sharing of knowledge through the Internet that this is even possible on the hobby level? And just because we call it “hobby” doesn’t mean you have to lower your expectations. This thing is full featured. Watch the clip after the break to see the ATmega328 driving a 104×80 resolution screen with a 256 color palette, while using four audio channels for the chiptunes. The thing even utilizes an original NES controller port for user input.

And for those of you who are thinking we’ve seen the same thing before, we never get tired of seeing projects where a lot of hard work has obviously paid off!

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The Tiniest Video Game

As we read [Adam]’s writeup for an extremely tiny video game system through coke bottle glasses, we’re reminded of the countless times we were told that sitting, ‘too close to the Nintendo’ would ruin our eyes. We’ll happily dismiss any article from a medical journal that says there was any truth to that statement, but [Adam]’s tiny video game system will most certainly hurt your eyes.

A few years ago, Atari sold keychain-sized joysticks that contained classics such as PongBreakout, Centipede, and Asteroids. [Adam] apparently ran into a cache of these cool classic baubles and immediately thought of turning them into a stand-alone video game system.

For the display, [Adam] used a CRT module from an old Sony Handicam. These modules had the right connections – power, ground, and composite video input – to connect directly to the Atari keychain games. The result is a video game that’s even smaller than a postage stamp. The picture above shows the tiny CRT next to a 25mm postage stamp; it’s small by any measure.

Putting every game console in the palm of your hand


Casemodders extraordinaire [Downing] and [Hailrazer] are known for their fabulous builds that put just about every gaming console into a portable hand-held format. Everything from a Game Cube to N64s and a Sega Genesis have been conquered by the two, and for the last year they’ve been putting their heads together to make the best solution to portabalizing console gaming forever. It’s called the Cross Plane, and puts just about everything with an HDMI connection in the palm of your hand.

The build began as one of [Downing]’s more ambitious projects. He imagined a system that could play nearly every retro game on a small handheld device. After finishing this build, he set up a Kickstarter and called up his friend [Hailrazer] to get some feedback. Just hours before the Kickstarter launched, [Hailrazer] suggested making a device for modern consoles. [Downing]’s pride and joy was scrapped, but out of its ashes arose the Cross Plane.

Inside the Cross Plane is a wireless HDMI receiver and a 7″ 720p display. This, along with a few buttons and analog controls, allow the Cross Plane to serve as a remote display and controller for an XBox 360, Playstation 3, and even a PC, for all that retro emulator goodness.

It’s a really, really cool project, and since the dream of an open Wii U controller seem to have died, we’re thinking this could be a great controller for an FPV quadcopter or other remotely operated vehicle.

Making Asteroids Miniature


Mini arcade cabinet builds are fairly common, but we’ve never seen anything like [Jurgen]’s mini vector Asteroids cabinet that takes an original Asteroids circuit board and a true vector monitor and shrinks it down to table top size.

Unlike the raster monitors of a later generation’s arcade games, the original Asteroids cabinet used a vector monitor just like one would find in an oscilloscope. [Jurgen] found the perfect CRT in, of all places, a broken Vectrex console. The video circuitry in the Vectrex was rather primitive and the beam deflection was far too slow for the video signals generated by the Asteroids PCB. To get around this, [Jurgen] added a custom XY driver board. While the Asteroids game – and other vector Atari games – were designed for a screen with 1 MHz of bandwidth, [Jurgen] found that 300 kHz was ‘good enough’ to display proper Asteroids graphics.

While the cabinet isn’t a miniaturized version of any proper cabinet, [Jurgen] did manage to build a rather nice looking case for his luggable version of Asteroids. The exposed PCB on the back is a great touch, and an awesome project for any ancient video game aficionado.

A Video Game with custom LCD characters


[Nakul] wanted to build a video game, and with a few projects worth of Arduino experience decided he could finally attain his goal. He used a character LCD display to make his game, and instead of a text-based adventure, he went with a graphical side scroller.

The display for this space-based side scroller isn’t a graphical display like a CRT or a graphic LCD. Instead, [Nakul] is using the ubiquitous Hitachi HD44780 character LCD display. Normally these are used to display text, but they all have the ability to display custom 5 by 8 pixel characters. The code puts these custom characters – a spaceship, missile, and barrier – into the display’s memory and uses them as the sprites for the video game.

You can grab [Nakul]’s code over on his git or check out the action videos below.

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Human Asteroids makes you a vector triangle ship


In 1979, [Nolan Bushnell] released Asteroids to the world. Now, he’s playing the game again, only this time with the help of a laser projector and a Kinect that turns anyone sitting on a stool – in this case [Nolan] himself – into everyone’s favorite vector spaceship. It’s a project for Steam Carnival, a project by [Brent Bushnell] and [Eric Gradman] that hopes to bring a modern electronic carnival to your town.

The reimagined Asteroids game was created with a laser projector to display the asteroids and ship on a floor. A Kinect tracks the user sitting and rolling on a stool while a smart phone is the triangular spaceship’s ‘fire’ button. The game is played in a 150 square foot arena, and is able to put anyone behind the cockpit of an asteroid mining triangle.

[Brent] and [Eric] hope to bring their steam carnival to LA and San Francisco next spring, but if they exceed their funding goals, they might be convinced to bring their show east of the Mississippi. We’d love to try it out by hiding behind the score like the original Asteroids and wasting several hours.

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Asteriods: the belt buckle


This is going to change the way you play with yourself. What if every time you got a little bored you reached for your belt rather than your smart phone? [Cunning_Fellow] may be doing that more often now that he finished this slick-looking video game belt buckle which plays the classic Asteroids game.

It isn’t just an intriguing concept. The build was pulled off at a very high level of quality… this thing should have no problem standing the test of time. First off he had to figure out if it was even possible to run the game at a respectable frame-rate. Cheap 320×240 LCD screens don’t have a frame marker (think of it as a vertical sync signal with can be used as an interrupt for the microcontroller). But he thought it was possible that the frame marker pin just wasn’t connected like on more expensive screens and he was right with at least one model he acquired.

With that out of the way he laid out and etched a beautiful double-sided board to house all of the electronics. But he still needed a case. To get a one-of-a-kind look he masked and etched a sheet of brass. Once cut out and folded ti gives a wonderful look and protects the electronics inside quite well.