Tiger Boy Advance Is A 90s Kid Dream Come True

From the release of the DMG-01 in 1989 until the final Micro variant hit store shelves in 2005, the Nintendo Game Boy line represented the epitome of handheld gaming for hundreds of millions of players. But that’s not to say there weren’t a wide array of other handheld systems that aimed to chip away at the Japanese gaming giant’s monopoly. SEGA and Sony released high-tech systems that brought impressive technical innovations, while Tiger Electronics famously took the opposite approach with ultra-cheap handhelds that leveraged simplistic games based on popular children’s franchises.

[Chris Downing] had to make do with these budget Tiger games as a child, and now as an adult, he’s determined to made things right with the Tiger Boy Advance. As the name implies, this retro hybrid combines the look and feel of a branded Tiger game with the power and software compatibility of a legitimate Nintendo Game Boy Advance (GBA) circa 2001. It even sprinkles in some modern niceties, like USB-C charging and a backlit display. While most of its charm is probably lost on anyone who didn’t grow up within a fairly narrow range of years, the video below seems to prove that even modern kids can appreciate this one-of-a-kind creation.

From an electronics standpoint, the system is essentially just a gutted GBA crammed into a 3D printed approximation of an old Tiger game from around the mid 1990s. But what makes this project special is the nostalgia-fueled attention to detail that [Chris] brings to the table.

Take for example the custom manufactured faceplate that combines artwork from some of the era’s best known games. Getting the image printed on the back of the CNC-cut piece of clear acrylic proved to be quite a challenge, but the final result looks incredibly professional. Instead of using the GBA’s stock buttons and directional pad, [Chris] decided to 3D print replacements that mimic the look of the original Tiger controls. It all culminates in a device that perfectly recreates the unique look of the original Tiger games.

Some will argue that he’d have done better to equip the system with a Raspberry Pi Zero 2 and the latest build of RetroPie, and frankly, it’s easy to see the appeal of going that route. But [Chris] didn’t make this for us, he built it to encapsulate a very specific time from his own childhood. We’re just glad that the technology now available to the individual maker allowed him to turn this particular dream into reality.

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Teardown: RADICA I-Racer

Long before the Oculus Rift and HTC Vive came along, some of the biggest names in gaming tried to develop practical stereoscopic displays. These early attempts at virtual reality (VR) were hindered by the technical limitations of their time, and most never progressed beyond the prototype stage. Of the ones that did make it to retail shelves, none managed to stick around for very long. The best known example is Nintendo’s Virtual Boy, which ended up being a financial disaster upon its release in 1995 and some regard as the gaming giant’s greatest blunder.

Despite these public failures, Radica still felt compelled to throw their hat into the ring. Best known for their line of relatively simplistic LCD handheld games, the company produced several rudimentary stereoscopic stand-alone titles in the late 1990s to try and cash in on the VR fad. Among the later entries in this series was 1999’s NASCAR i-Racer, which at least externally, looks quite a bit like modern VR headset.

Featuring a head-mounted stereoscopic display, a handheld controller, force feedback, and integrated headphones, you’d certainly be forgiven for thinking the i-Racer was ahead of its time. But its reliance on the primitive LCD technology that put Radica on the map, combined with the need to keep the game as cheap as possible, keeps the experience planted firmly in the 1990s. But perhaps there’s something we can do about that.

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Digitized Retro LCD Games Played Using An Arduino As A Controller

This one’s a bit abstract. Remember those LCD games that became quite popular sometime in the 1990’s? You know, the ones that had only one game, usually a character that could be moved back and forth to catch, hit, or block objects falling from the sky or being thrown by some┬ávillain? [Tobie Nortje] sure remembers them and has built an Arduino controller to play virtual versions of the games.

He started off by finding a website that is digitizing the old games. That is to say, they’ve taken images of each state of the LCD, then implemented the game play using those images and an approximation of the original physics. Unlike NES or Sega Master System games the ROMs of these devices can’t just be dumped because of the specialized screen. Instead, a virtual version of the hardware has been built into a web interface.

[Tobie’s] part of the hack is to use an Arduino and a few buttons as the controller. It’s easy to set up and we think the breadboarded controller approximates the size and weight of an LCD game pretty well. Check out the video after the break and let us know what you think in the comments.

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