DIY retro gaming handheld has become very popular ever since the introduction of the raspberry pi and tutorials have been popping up all over youtube. Companies such as Adafruit who made the PiGRRL and the Ben Heck show who made his own Raspberry Pi portable. If you do a google search on “Raspberry Pi handhelds” you will be amazed at how many different variations and Raspberry Pi handhelds there are out there.
A New Way To Retro Game
There is one company who is doing something different and I have to say I am intrigued. The company is ClockWork is a tech startup with some talented engineers and designers. The Clockwork team is working on something they call the GameShell, the name alone sounds interesting but what is it and what can it bring to the gaming community.
What Exactly Is This GameShell You Speak Of?
The GameShell is a modular, portable game console running a Gnu Linux allowing you to play your old Atari, Gameboy, Gameboy Advance, Nintendo Entertainment System, Super Nintendo and many others via an emulator. It apparently also runs Dos Box which I am interested in seeing work on the handheld, it would be pretty amazing to play some retro dos games anywhere I go…!
The GameShell is open source so it allows you to mod and create your own games. A gaming handheld that allows you to design and program your own games. The console will support programming languages such as preset C, Python, Lua and Lisp so here a reason to start learning a new language. The GameShell not only unleashes your inner child but also your inner creative side and encourages you to create the games you love to play.
The GameShell looks very reminiscent of the original GameBoy but with a slim down design and some extra controls. The console comes in variety of two-tone color schemes such as white for the front, grey for the back or yellow for the front, orange for the back and if you have a 3d print they give you a file so you can create your own shells which is an added bonus.
The Inner Working Of The GameShell
The GameShell is five independent modules and each module can be used to learn how to program. I knew you could create your own games with the GameShell but I was unaware you could actually learn to program from the device itself, it brings both fun and valuable knowledge. Who said gaming couldn’t teach us a thing or two?
The five modules are the screen, mainboard, keypad, battery, and stereo speaker. The screen is a 2.7 RGB running at 60 FPS, the keypad is an Arduino compatible programmable game keypad, batter is a 1050 mAh battery which clockwork says should have a working time of 3 hours which isn’t impressive by any means, the mainboard which they are calling CLOCKWORK PI is powered by a Quad-core -A7 CPU 512 MB Memory,Mali GPU and WiFi.
The GameShell weighs 195 grams, has 14pin UART, 12C,SPI and GPIO ports. The Micro SD card slot supports up to 32 GB which is kind of upsetting I would have rather seen 64gb or even 128gb because even though old retro console game roms are small in size Dos games will tend to take up a little more space.
How The GameShell Is Versatile
The GameShell is not just a retro gaming handheld when all the module are working together but each module when separated have there own cool uses. With the GameShell modules, you can create a wireless speaker, remotely control a device or create a smart toy such as a robot that interacts with objects.
My Final Thoughts
Personally, I have been intrigued since I first seen the GameShell, a module handheld that plays all my favorite retro games include dos game on the go and each component is a separate device on its own. As a retro game enthusiast, I was attracted to the device not only because I could play those games but I can learn how to design and program those games as well. Now I don’t have a ton of information on the device because it is still in its Kickstarter stage (development) but whole open source module retro gaming handheld concept just seems pretty cool to me and since I never built a RetroPi handheld this device is the next best thing and who knows it just might function better than a RetroPi device!
For more information on the GameShell and to see it in action I highly suggest your check out Clockwork’s Kickstarter page. I didn’t back it right away but after revisting it a couple of months later I decided that I was really interested in getting my hands on this device and featuring it on an episode of Reviews By This Guy but I guess we will have to wait till April since that is when it ships.