New Life For Old Nintendo Handhelds With ESP32

The Game Boy Pocket was Nintendo’s 1996 redesign of the classic 1989 handheld, giving it a smaller form factor, better screen and less power consumption. While it didn’t become as iconic as its predecessor, it still had enough popularity for modders such as [Eugene] to create new hardware for it. His Retro ESP32 board is a drop-in replacement for the console’s motherboard and screen, giving it a whole new life.

[Eugene] is no stranger to making this kind of mod, his previous Gaboze Pocaio project did the exact same thing with this form factor, only with a Raspberry Pi instead of the ESP32-WROVER used here. His choice of integrated SoC was based on the ODROID-GO, which is a similar portable console but with its own custom shell instead.

This project doesn’t stop at the hardware though, the Retro ESP32 (previously dubbed Gaboze Express) also offers a user-friendly interface to launch emulators. This GUI code can be used with the ODROID as well since they share the same hardware platform, so if you have one of those you can try it out right now from the software branch of their repository.

If the idea of replacing retro tech innards with more modern hardware is something that interests you, look at what they did to this unassuming Osborne 1, or this unwitting TRS-80 Model 100. Poor thing didn’t even see it coming.

17 thoughts on “New Life For Old Nintendo Handhelds With ESP32

  1. If the motherboard and screen have been replaced, is that really giving the system new life? or is it more like skinning the system to build a homunculus that wears its shell? :P

    1. I will quote Terry Pratchett rather loosely here: This axe has been in my family for generations. Of the original axe, nothing remains. My great grandfather changed the hilt, my father the blade. I myself remade the engravings on it. And yet, it is the same axe. Because what matters is not what it was made of, but what it represents to you.

      Sure it is not the same machine you bought. But that is not why you repair or upgrade something. You don’t do it to have the exact same machine. That in itself is impossible. You do it because you want to keep it longer, because it still holds value to you. And if in doing so you make it better, why not?

        1. An average human red blood cell has a life span of about 120 days. Those cells in you right now didn’t exist 4-ish months ago, and none will remain 4-ish months from now.

          But rest assured if a persons blood is drained and replaced with yorkshire brand tea, it will be commented on by others on the Internet ;}

  2. @erin

    Thank you so much for the generous and kind words.

    We are looking to get these mass produced in the upcoming months and are currently in negotiations with manufacturers.

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