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Raspberry Pi Gameboy and Mega Drive – My Retro Setup

In my quest for all things retro, I discovered that the company I bought a Mega Drive Pi case from makes a really convincing Game Boy case. I promise this isn’t sponsored.

It’s no secret that I have a love for retro, and I also have a love for Raspberry Pi. For ages I’ve always recommended setting up a Raspberry Pi as the ideal retro machine.

But recently I came across Retroflag, and their extremely faithful reconstructions of retro game console cases for the Raspberry Pi. They do (S)NES, Mega Drive and even a fully kitted out Gameboy.

I couldn’t resist, with some extreme case of lockdown boredom, I bought the MEGAPi. With some birthday cash I then bought the GPi.

MEGAPi, The Mega Drive Case

I am super impressed with the quality of this case. On the outside this looks very much like a genuine SEGA revival product! In goes my trusty Raspberry Pi 3.

Assembly was fairly easy to go about. The cables hooking up the button to the Raspberry Pi were very stiff and felt like I was about to break the assembly, but eventually seemed to mold into the recess.

I added the standard heat sinks to the Raspberry Pi (5mm height heat sink for the CPU to avoid fan collision), and a cooling fan. However, the fan is powered directly by the 5V without PWM or GPIO control, so it becomes annoying very quickly when it makes an awful whining noise.

For software I went down the RetroPie route. I added a range of games from the 70’s to the 90’s, and had an absolutely fantastic experience.

N64, Dreamcast and PlayStation 1 is where I began to experience problems. N64 seemingly ran on a slightly slower framerate than expected. The same problem was worse on Dreamcast, to the point it sadly became unplayable. PlayStation 1 ran absolutely perfectly, with a few problematic games here and there, and framerate drops on intensive screens. No overclocking was used in this experience.

But now I wanted portable (let’s just forget the one I made earlier)…

Retroflag GPi, the Modern Gameboy I Always Wanted

I simply cannot overstate how much I love the detail in this case. To make an absolute classic handheld into a form factor that closely resembles it, but also providing usable modern features, is a hellish a task.

And the GPi nails it!

It’s hard to say what has made it into this, because almost everything matches the original Gameboy. Instead, the differences are:

  • There’s 4 purple buttons instead of 2 (A, B, X, Y).
  • A and B are reversed.
  • The actual dot matrix screen is replaced with a small LCD.
    • But the dot matrix banner is still there!
  • Contrast slider now controls the brightness.
  • Cartridge slot is there, but houses the Raspberry Pi instead of actual Gameboy cartridges.
  • Power supply cable is for a lower voltage, and runs off phone chargers.
  • There’s a hidden MicroUSB slot in the battery door.

I put three high capacity NiMH batteries (2500mAh) and achieved a staggering 6 hours of gameplay on battery! Bring along the cable and a 10k mAh pack and you could be gaming for days.

The screen is 320 x 240, so don’t expect any miracles coming from the screen. It also only supports the Raspberry Pi Zero (W), so gaming beyond the late 90’s is a complete no.

By Casey

Casey is a back-end developer specialising in PHP, primarily for WordPress developments. Outside of Spaghetti-hell, he also works a lot with IoT and Raspberry Pis.