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I’ve covered the Game Boy modding community in the past, and while their results are fascinating and impressive, they aren’t necessarily easy. Some of the best mods require a decent level of experience to master, including the ability to solder. This is something I do not know how to do, and thus, have not dipped my toe into the world of custom-built Game Boys.

Reboi turns your Game Boy Color into a full computer

But Reboi, a promising new Kickstarter project, is different. Not only did inventor James Sargent purposefully design the project to be as simple as possible, this Game Boy mod actually turns the retro Nintendo handheld into a full computer. Rather than creating the ultimate Game Boy Color, the goal with Reboi is to allow anyone to piece together a Game Boy computer, no matter what their hardware skills happen to be.

Now, you can’t turn any old Game Boy Color into a computer using the console’s original motherboard. Instead, powering the Reboi is a Raspberry Pi Zero, which you will need to provide yourself. While any Zero model will work, Sargent highly recommends the Raspberry Pi Zero 2 W to get the most out of the mod.

You’ll also need to provide a Game Boy Color shell. You can pick one of these up from many different markets across the internet. There are even third-party “after market” shells that, while not being official Nintendo shells, work just as well with this project, and go for less than the real deal.

What can Reboi do?

Reboi can do just about anything a computer running on a Raspberry Pi can do, at least within the confines of the Game Boy Color’s tiny display. In the project’s Kickstarter video, Sargent shows off running a desktop OS on the Reboi, playing a video on the 160×144 display, and even playing Minecraft on a handheld released 11 years before its release. You’ll probably want to hook up some peripherals to make the most of those features.

However, where the Reboi most practically shines is in retro gaming. Powered by RetroPie, the Reboi turns your Game Boy Color into a portable retro gaming machine. Sure, you can play Game Boy classics like Pokémon and Zelda, but you can also run titles never meant for the system, from Super Nintendo cartridges to classic PC games.

Of course, the kicker here is that it’s meant to be easy to build. Assuming you have a Raspberry Pi Zero and a Game Boy Color shell, Sargent sends you the materials you need to build it yourself, including the motherboard and a backlit display. In fact, that seems to be the most “difficult” part of the build. If you can connect the display to the motherboard with a ribbon cable, you can likely handle the rest of the project, which involves both snapping and screwing pieces into place.

The motherboard comes with the RP2040 microcontroller, which is used as a keyboard emulator, so you can type and interact with the Game Boy buttons alone. Plus, it allows for dimmable RGB lights and battery monitoring, so you know when it’s time to change the two AA batteries.

You can see how a Reboi is meant to be assembled from this video:

How to get a Reboi

As of this article, Reboi has blown past its goal of $19,075 with over 200 backers. If you want to try out Reboi for yourself, you can pledge £79 (about $86 USD). That includes the motherboard, backlit display, hardware, batteries, and cartridge. (The cartridge doesn’t actually do anything; it’s just meant to round out the look.)

Of course, backing a Kickstarter project doesn’t guarantee you’ll receive the product. However, should everything go as expected, Sargent plans to send you a Reboi kit around August of this year.

[Tom’s Hardware]





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