Pint-sized portable gaming system includes more than 300 games
Back in 2015, developer Kevin Bates launched an 8-bit credit card-sized gaming system on Kickstarter called Arduboy for people with a keen eye for playing, creating and sharing free games. Now an even smaller version has landed.
Originally conceived as a digital business card, the first Arduboy prototype became a YouTube sensation in 2014. A company was then formed, followed by several prototypes and handshakes with manufacturing partners ahead of a Kickstarter debut in May 2015.
The 85 x 54 x 5 mm (3.3 x 2 x 0.2 in) Arduboy proved popular with backers – blowing past its funding goal on its first day, with shipments beginning in August 2016.
It featured six soft-touch button controls, a 128×64 OLED screen, an ATmega32u4 processor with 2.5 KB of RAM and 32 KB of flash memory, a built-in piezo speaker, and a small LiPo battery for more than eight hours per charge of play.
The development team gave the device a significant storage boost for the recently launched FX model, leveling up to 200 prepared games developed by the Arduboy open source community. And now the latest member of the family increases this to more than 300 games, while reducing the overall size of the portable 8-bit player by quite a margin.
That downsizing has resulted in some net losses. The Arduboy Mini isn’t wrapped in a durable metal/polycarbonate case, the speaker has been cut and the integrated battery is gone – so gamers will need to power the device via the USB-C port (although soldering pads are included to add a speaker and battery for the circuit board if desired).
The Mini retains the 128 x 64 monochrome OLED screen for displaying miniature game images, and the ATmega32u4 also trickles in, but the team has added 16MB of flash storage and ALPS switches for tactile controls.
The setup is designed to be hacked, with all the microcontroller pins available for use, there is a standard ISCP header to reprogram the bootloader, and people will be able to download files for enclosures that can be 3D printed at home. Users are also encouraged to get their coding hands dirty, with step-by-step tutorials available for hackers, students and teachers.
Kickstarter pledges for the Arduboy Mini start at just $29. The usual crowdfunding caveats apply, but if all goes according to plan, shipping is estimated to start in June 2023.