A pink and white Leapster GS handheld console sits on a wooden table. It has a white D-pad and two large pink action buttons. A power cord extends from the bottom and a headphone cable comes out the top.

RetroArch On A LeapFrog Leapster GS

Retro games are a blast, and even more so when you can bring the fun on the go. [mac2612] has developed a custom retroarch-based firmware for the Leapster GS and LeapPad2. (via Bringus Studios on YouTube)

We covered Linux on the Leapster before, but Retroleap seems better documented (and still up on the internet). Installation is done over the command line with sshflash, also by [mac2612], after booting the Leapster or LeapPad2 into “Surgeon Mode.” Since the stock bootloader remains intact, you can always return the LeapFrog to its default state if anything gets wiggy by reflashing the device via the LeapFrog Connect App.

The default system includes emulators for NES, SNES, GBA, Genesis, Atari 800, and MAME. Performance varies, but some PS1 games have even run successfully on the device.

If you’d like to see some other LeapFrog hacks, checkout this LeapFrog TV Running DOOM or Composite Video Out on the DIDJ.

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Linux On A Leapster For Classic Video Game Emulation

Christmas is coming, and if you have nieces, nephews, or ankle biters of your own roaming your house, you’re probably wondering how you’ll be subsidizing Santa this year. it looks like Toys R Us will be selling the Leapfrog LeapsterGS for $30 on Black Friday this year. It’s a Linux device running on a 550 MHz ARM 9, with 128 MB of RAM and 2 GB of Flash. Overpowered for a children’s toy, but perfect for when the kids forget about it in a month, because now you can replace the firmware with a proper Linux install and run classic emulators.

Putting Linux on these cheap handhelds made for children isn’t anything new; we’ve seen it done with the Leapfrog DIDJ¬†and the Leapfrog Explorer. Those consoles, however, had rather anemic CPUs and not a whole lot of RAM. Moore’s Law finally kicked in for stocking stuffers, it seems, and the Leapster GS is powerful enough to play all those Nintendo, Game Boy and even MAME games.

All that’s needed to flash the new firmware is soldering a few wires onto the LeapsterGS’ board for a serial connection. The new LeapsterGS firmware even has an MP3 and movie player, so even if the recipient of one of these machines grows tired of it in a week, there’s still a lot of life left in it.

Video of the LeapsterGS playing the greatest arcade game below.

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