We live in a brave new world of cross platform support. Nintendo will soon make Skyrim portable on the Switch. Doom runs on pretty much everything. It’s the golden age of retro gaming. If it’s got a screen and a processor, an intrepid maker can make their favorite game run on it.
As first spotted on Hackaday, a maker who goes by the name Kite on the Sudomod forums—a site dedicated to raspberry pi and Gameboy related mods—has modified a Dreamcast visual memory unit to run old Gameboy games. The Dreamcast was Sega’s last home console, a well-loved machine the company released in 1999. It’s memory card was a large piece of plastic with its own screen and its own games called the VMU.
The little guy was small enough to fit in your pocket but big enough to seem unwieldy when stuffed into the Dreamcast’s massive controller. Back then, Nintendo and Sega were mortal enemies locked in a generations long struggle for dominance of the console marketplace. That’s all over now. These days, Sonic has even made guest appearances in some Nintendo games. And now, thanks to this mod, Mario, Pikachu, and Link can all show up on an old Sega system.
The Dreamcast’s VMU has a screen and buttons, so it’s the perfect fit for an innovative maker to bust open and use as the housing for a raspberry pi zero/w running Retropie—software that allows users to emulate old console and handheld games.
“It is great for GBC games due to the low res, and 'basic' games like Sonic (that require very few buttons),” Kite wrote on the Sudomod forums. “The screen is super smooth and no tearing (due to the low res so a lot less pixels to push) but it does make menus quite hard to use...I currently have it on my keychain for my keys because it has a lanyard hole at the bottom!”
To be clear, Kite’s using an LCD screen that comes with the pi zero/w not the original VMU screen. He’s not done messing with the VMU. He plans to upgrade the screen and begin selling some of these beauties in early to mid 2018.