This NES Emulator Build Lets You Use Cartridges To Play Games

You may not remember this, but Nintendo hardware used to be a pretty big deal. The original Game Boy and NES both had remarkable industrial design that, like the Apple II and IBM Thinkpad, weren’t quite appreciated until many years after production ended. But, like many of you, [daftmike] had nostalgia-fueled memories of the NES experience still safely locked away.

Memories like lifting the cartridge door, blowing on the cartridge, and the feel of the cartridge clicking into place. So, understandably, reliving those experiences was a key part of [daftmike’s] Raspberry Pi-based NES build, though at 40% of the original size. He didn’t just want to experience the games of his youth, he wanted to experience the whole NES just as he had as a child.


Now, like any respectable hacker, [daftmike] didn’t let gaps in his knowledge stop him. This project was a learning experience. He had to teach himself a lot about 3D design and modeling, using Linux, and programming. But, the end result was surely worth the work; the attention to detail shows in features like the USB placement, the power and reset buttons, and of course the game cartridges which work with the magic of NFC and still include the insert and toggle action of the original cartridge carriage.

If you have a 3D printer and Raspberry Pi available, you could build a similar NES emulator yourself. But if you don’t have a 3D printer, but do have an original NES lying around, you could pull of the Raspberry Pi in a NES case hack. Whichever you do, the NES’s beauty deserves to be displayed in your home.

25 thoughts on “This NES Emulator Build Lets You Use Cartridges To Play Games

  1. Its cool :D and his writeup aswell. great work. I might buy the nes mini, but have some clone chips laying arround that need a case too, maybe 3d print one :D looks neat.

  2. Man I was hoping he would show a bit more of the cartridge slot. The authentic like motion of clipping it down wasn’t shown all that well.

    Also when I first read that I was like “real carts on an emulator? I gotta see this”. Turn out it is an emulated cart but still cool.

    1. There are other similar builds that use SD cards, but for this project he wanted the feel of inserting a cartridge. That’d be really difficult to replicate with an SD card.

  3. Making something inspired by the NES with a RBPi? hell yes, nice job there.
    But if i catch anyone gutting a working NES to do something like this, feet will meet cheeks

      1. Not all rare things start off as rare.

        What upsets me, is nintendo’s reluctance to give us a mini NES that allows further development; but locks the NES with 30 games and no developer platform. The only good thing about the mini NES is the controllers work for Wii – which, then if I had the games on Wii why would use the new controller and console and if I had the NES mini why would I want the games on my Wii?

        Wait, why would someone want to develop games for an archaic machine?
        I assure you, the NES plays games just as well as it did the day it released. There is also a number of people willing to develop games that would have no issue playing on the NES… Actually, I don’t know about NES because the console I want rereleased is the SNES.

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