Game Boy Zero

We see a lot of Pi Zero retro gaming mods, but I think this one might just take the biscuit.


This rather beautiful mod from Wermy (leave your real name in the comments if you’d like us to use it, Wermy!) has a few details that really make it stand out. Pi Zero in a controller or hand-held device isn’t new: we’ve seen it before. But this one’s got a couple of special features. First up, there’s this glorious cartridge hack:


What you’re seeing here is a customised Game Boy cartridge which has been re-soldered and gently Dremeled to house a micro SD adapter, which will accept any micro SD you pop in there, and enable the Pi Zero inside the Game Boy itself to read from it. (Wermy’s running RetroPie on the Game Boy Zero.)

People with sharp eyes will have noticed that the Game Boy Zero has one big cosmetic difference (aside from that display) from the original Game Boy. It has two extra buttons, so you can play SNES, NES, and later Game Boy model games on there. There are also a couple of shoulder triggers. (The buttons Wermy has used are from a NES controller, and he says they’re very similar in look and feel to what you’ll find on the original Game Boy.)

The screen’s a little composite display from Adafruit, which was a little larger than the original display, and required some careful removing of struts inside the case. Wermy’s added three buttons inside the case to control brightness, colour and contrast, along with a USB Bluetooth adaptor – it’s a tight fit to get everything inside the case, but he’s done a stand-up job.

final layout

Here it is in action.

Wermy’s documenting the build here (and running a giveaway so you can win one of these gorgeous little things): head over to read more!

Oh – and to preempt Pi Zero stock woe in the comments, we’ve got some news from Eben:

Raspberry Pi Zero production is restarting in Wales next Monday after a hiatus to allow us to focus on Raspberry Pi 3 (a million units built and counting). We have placed 250ku of new orders, and are aiming to produce at least 50ku/month for the rest of this year. Distribution will continue to be via Pimoroni, Pi Hut, Adafruit and Micro Center for now.

To thank you for your patience, we’ve taken advantage of the hiatus to add a (much requested) new feature. I’ll leave you all to guess what it is (it’s not WiFi).

We expect the new Raspberry Pi Zero units (with the new feature) to be available in two to three weeks’ time. They’ll be stocked exclusively in the usual Pi Zero stores: The Pi Hut, Adafruit, Pimoroni and Micro Center.


Nic avatar

A guess at the new feature: “Avaibility” ?

Liz Upton avatar

Oo, get you.

MalMan35 avatar

That looks really nice! I’m sure he must of spent a lot of time on it. Good job! (wish I could figure out how to make something as nice as that ;])

Liz Upton avatar

Wermy says the build took a couple of weeks. We were really impressed by the finish; cleanly Dremeling the case like that is *hard*, and the whole thing looks wonderfully neat and tidy.

Mark Swope avatar

Does he still have all of his fingers?

Winkleink avatar

This is great. I let the video on YouTube run on and this one came up.
Gameboy Nano – Portable Raspberry Pi Gameboy
Not sure I’d pay $250 but definitely the smallest fully functioning game console I’ve seen using the PiZero measuring 6.9cm x 4.8cm x 2.7cm

Martin avatar

New feature: second usb port (still micro)?

solar3000 avatar

Oh man what a cram! I’ve never had a gameboy. But I do remember the battle between gameboy and the one from sega.

Eben Upton avatar

I think your comment sums up Sega’s problem in that particular battle.

Liz Upton avatar

Hey! My brother and I had a Game Gear, and we LOVED that thing. The battery died very early on, so we always had to play with it plugged into the wall, but I have very happy memories of Wonder Boy in Monster Land, Sonic (many iterations thereof) and all that good Sega stuff.

To my mind, the Game Gear happened well before Sega jumped the shark. The shark-jumping occurred with Ecco the Dolphin. (No cetacean pun intended.)

Winkleink avatar

Game Gear owner as well.
Went with big external battery and magnifier. Also, had adapter to use Master System cartridges in it.
Did a lot of long train journeys back then and it was a life saver.
Game Gear was basically a Master System in a smaller form factor.

I’m one of those who never did Nintendo. So, no nostalgia for Gameboy or SNES.

snowballEarth avatar

Gameboy owner here, back in the day. Awesome thing to have when you’re 10 years old. I also remember playing a friend’s gamegear on a game called ‘Columns’. I guess that was Sega’s answer to Tetris.
Thinking of what gaming looks like now, and we’re at the dawn of VR, compared to what we loved back then is very scary.

Rich Steed avatar

would it be possible to reuse the screens from a colour handheld like Game gear with a Rpi or do you need to get a new screen?

Tobias Huebner avatar

I guess this will be very hard, if not impossible, due to the missing connector. It`ll be much more easy to just buy a new screen – take a look at the Adafruit-website, they have a lot of screens in different sizes. If you want to use a little display with the pi, you either have to put it on the GPIO-Port or you use the analogue output, like in the Game Boy mod above.

Jongoleur avatar

“a (much requested) new feature”

Apart from “availability”, which sprung to mind even before reading the posts, the only thing to make life more fun (and save burned fingers) would be ready fitted GPIO pins!

Of course, it also means that unopened, cover mounted originals will be even more collectable…..

Micah avatar

I actually hope that’s NOT the case. The ability to solder components directly to the holes is an attractive feature of the Zero to me.

Tobias Huebner avatar

I agree – this mod is just awesome! It`s very exciting to see, how a mod develops over the years in the Pi community. I made my own Game Boy mod about a year ago with an A+ (here`s a short video: – skip to 1:30). I wanted to make another attempt with the Zero as well, but I think it`s quite hard to connect a speaker and am amplifier to it, so I hope the new feature on the Pi Zero will be two small holes for analog audio output. Then I could also make my little LEGO Wall-E talk! :) (

Kralc avatar

My feature guess would be the USB D+/D- pins broken out to a 2.54mm header, so you can create add-on boards that easily connect to them.

TZarls avatar

Eben spoke about the Pi3 (which apart from using a new processor has bluetooth and wifi). Then he goes on to speaking about Zero´s new feature and specifically said it´s not WiFi, so I´d go for bluetooth as the new feature. Any other thing like a second USB connector, Ethernet port or analog AV connectors would increase the size of the Zero IMO.

Either that or they will change the HDMI connector to a full sized one.

Rob D. avatar

I think a cheap addition that wouldn’t require a thicker board would be connections for audio directly on the board much like they have for composite video. It would actually make my current project much easier!

Tony Veijalainen avatar

I would say cheapest upgrade quite missed would be including analog sound where composite holes are. For usage of many Zeros, camera interface would be cool but likely out of reach pricewise.

Justin avatar

Game Boy <3 <3 <3

wermy avatar

Hey thanks for the post! I was coming here for something else and was startled to see my thumbs on the front page. :)

Liz Upton avatar

Ha – delighted, and thank you so much for the build! As you’ve probably gathered, we loved it. Beautiful, beautiful job; so nice to see such a great finish, as well as all the clever inside.

wermy avatar

Thanks so much! Love to see it popping up places like this. :)

(If it’s a quick fix would you mind find/replacing Wurmy to wermy?)

Liz Upton avatar

*Winces* – sure!

CodingKid avatar

How did he power the display?

Liz Upton avatar

Using those lithium ion cells!

CodingKid avatar

But, it seems that the display used is 12v.

Silviu avatar

A boost converter frm Ebay, one with a XL6009, from 3 to 4 V to chosen by you voltage. Cost is one pound :)

CodingKid avatar


Silviu avatar

I think we should have and use Letter or A4 size displays for the Raspberry Pi’s, similar to Sony’s Digital Paper. Then reading magazines and books would be super cool. Also watching movies on portable contraption would be much nicer looking. Far better than on a 7 or 10 inch display :)

I want larger displays to be available in stores specifically for the Raspberry Pi. Do you agree ?

Mike Evans avatar

@silviu google “pi-topCEED” for a 13.3″ screen Raspberry Pi

Silviu avatar

Thanks! Easy to set up speakers in or on the case too. Will buy a soon as I can. I’m going to stop consuming paper and toner, will make my journal digital on it and back it up with rsync -avxS to 3TB drive from time to time. A lot of toner and ink cartridges and a lot of paper will stop being wasted. Cool! (Sony Digital Paper is too expensive).

Jim Manley avatar

Wow, that’s a really cool GameBoy hack! Back when we played games on computers, you had to carry a PDP-1 on your back (half-a-dozen six-foot-tall 19-inch racks) and the display was about a two-foot diameter circular CRT that weighed another quarter-ton. It did have big, red buttons pretty much like on the more modern game systems, mounted in a screwed-together, 1/2-inch particle board box, because using the front-panel toggle switches for frantic photo torpedo shooting and hyperspace-warping created a small and very lucrative replacement toggle switch industry in short order! We have a PDP-1 that visitors can play Spacewar! on at the Computer History Museum in Silicon Valley, sometimes against its creator and fellow senior docent, Steve Russell (he _never_ loses, except to young kids, of course :) Steve was a student at MIT when he, Martin Graetz, and Wayne Wiitanen wrote the software in 1961.

Digital Equipment Corp. (DEC) included the paper tape source code with every delivery to test the installation because it exercised everything the machines could do. That included 2D vector graphics, real-time position and thrust/weapons direction/distance collision-detection computations (well, close enough for human interaction), and quickly-changing inputs. Students were lined up 24/7 for weeks waiting to play it until a high mucky-muck at MIT realized what was being done with the multi-hundred-thousand-dollar “research” tool they had just acquired! So, games were played in the dark of night when adminiweenies were sound asleep with visions of dollar signs dancing in their heads :)

Oh, thank you, thank you, thank you for getting Zero production cranked up! We do appreciate the 3Bs tons, but we have tens of thousands of kids just in our district for whom a $5.00 computer is a luxury that we’re going to subsidize (especially the cables, micro-SD cards, and everything else that altogether costs more than the board!). Plus, we’ve got some nifty Zero-based projects in progress that may grace this page soon, with any luck, so we see your secret and raise you!

Keep up the “grate” work, you cheese-shredding geniuses! :D

Bonce avatar

Hmn, audio pinouts as the new feature?

DaveB avatar

Wow that is truly amazing, a brilliant idea executed with a huge attention to detail. Fantastic!

MOB avatar

I think the new feature is
analog stereo audio out via holes similar to composite video out.

Alternatively it could be

openmake Team avatar

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how to make ours emus. : RAS JOY BOX.
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ours called OpenMake project team.라즈-조이박스-제작하기

Carl avatar

This is something I’m looking into making. Just having to get my hands on all the part first :)

Tim avatar

Nice, your favorite hack comes from your product that you refuse to stock.

Liz Upton avatar

Reading to the end of the post would help you here. We’re very excited about our work in education; once we’re done with computing, we’re thinking about working in the field of reading comprehension.

Steven avatar

Can’t start to comprehend what you don’t read in the first place.

Should i expect to see RPZ in stock in early may? Should i wait to buy one of those or would the new feature help in making the gameboy zero?

Liz Upton avatar

I think it’ll be about two weeks before stock hits stores (we’re making sure that there’s a good solid amount of stock rather than dribbling it out) – so it’s up to you! I think you’ll be fine without the new feature for your Game Boy project.

Steven avatar

Sweet thank you. I’ll probably wait it out to snag an updated one. More features never hurts. Once you start making the rounds i’m sure the ebay prices will fall to more reasonable markups.

Ken avatar

Why not reveal the new feature? Keeping us in suspense is surely fun but that knowledge could help people wanting to make choices today.

pi_314 avatar

Can someone please update the information about the ongoing production together with the teaser about the “additional feature” in the appropriate forum thread (

I found this clue here only by accident, but I poll the thread over there every once in a while.

Glad to hear that there is progress anyway.

Richard avatar

Great build! I must do this one day.

I am betting the new feature is a full size HDMI connector???

The RPi Zero is probably the single most awesome thing, gave me the biggest geekgasm ever!


Roonix avatar

What about CPC? They’re not mentioned in the sellers list, will they be stocking the Pi Zero too? They used to.

still avatar

Working with Pi Zero, the most annoying thing is to forget running apt-get related things on the SD from another Pi.
This is due to lack of network.
However, on the hardware side, probably usb plug is causing
the most pain.
But really, it would be nice if knok-off clones can be bought,
and produced, in factories across the world, instead of this 4 shop supply-limit … I know a amazon store that sells one single Zero board, for 100$(aprox). They had 3, now its down to 1 stock, so somebody is buying them.

Ken avatar

The PiHut just got some Pi Zeros in stock. Is is possible they are the new version?

Either way, it sure would be nice to know what the new feature is so that we would know if it was something we wanted to wait for or not — so we could decide whether leap on the available units right now or not…

I guess I’ll wait and let these go by. Sigh :(

Richard Molyneux avatar

My Pi Zero wishlist would be audio connections, and what should have been the original specifications IMHO, of micro HDMI (to use cheap mobile ‘phone cables), micro USB OTG (for cheap mobile hubs), and full size USB. That would keep the space requirements down, whilst allowing the use of an existing hub/keyboard/stick/etc. It’s silly to cripple a small form-factor device with adapters that cost more than the device…

dan3008 avatar

Any news on when the new zeros will be let loose in the wild? I’m just impatient lol

Vikas Shukla avatar

I am sure the Pi Zero is being released very soon. No I do not have any information on the new feature of Pi Zero.

I also coincides with the release of the HubPiWi, the hub with integrated Wifi – check it out at kickstarter.

Wintus avatar

When do the Pi Zero get stocked again in the store of USA, i wanna buy it online but the store are offer local pick-up only

Liz Upton avatar

It’s in stock at Adafruit right now.

Wintus avatar

Cool, best news of the day, i’m ordering one for mine now before it out of stock again :D
Thanks Liz

Ryan avatar

So, how exactly do I order one? I’ve spent the last week trying to figure it out, and I can’t find it on any websites?

Ed avatar

What about this one in a Game Boy Advance shell?

Marc avatar

Love this build. Thinking about trying to make my own.

Can you guys give me an direction how much the total build will cost?

Tim avatar

It still plays regular game boy cartridges… right?

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