Over a year ago, I wrote this post about a tiny DIY Game Boy that could fit on a keychain, saying that I would like to buy it. It took some time, but here we are now with the PocketSprite, a polished, commercial version of the original keychain Game Boy. This is a collaboration between the original’s creator, Jeroen Domburg (Sprite_tm), and manufactuer Steve K. The PocketSprite is looking for funding over at crowdfunding site Crowd Supply.
The PocketSprite looks like a more polished version of the original, hacked together version that Domburg created, but internally it seems to be packing the same specs: an OLED screen, Bluetooth, Wi-Fi, a rechargeable battery, and a built-in speaker. It’s powered off a dual-core, 240 MHz ESP32 chip and 520 KB of RAM. All of those make this vastly more powerful than the original Game Boy, with its 4.19 MHz processor and 16 KB of memory.
With built-in emulators, the PocketSprite can play Game Boy, Game Boy Color, Sega Master System, and Game Gear games, but the device is also open source, so you can in theory load on whatever you want, assuming you’ve got the coding skills to make it work. Adding ROMs to the device is done through a clever system — the PocketSprite creates a local Wi-Fi network, which you connect to with a computer, allowing users to easily upload games to their devices through a web interface.
Interestingly, the PocketSprite isn’t the only pocket-sized GameBoy out there. There’s a slew of competitors, including the PocketStar (which is also crowdfunding on Kickstarter), the Arduino-based 8-bit Arduboy, and the NES-copying BittBoy Mini handheld.
The PocketSprite is being sold in two versions: a fully-assembled model and a DIY kit that you can assemble yourself. It’s also being sold on a crowdfunding site, which means you need to factor in the usual warnings about using your best judgement before backing. The company does intend to ship early-bird orders on April 15th, which is either a good sign that production is going well or dangerous levels of hubris, but if you’re interested, early bird pricing starts at $45.