Someone Proved the Nintendo Game Boy Can Stream Movies

Online game consoles have developed into multi-purpose leisure hubs, letting avid gamers stream films, chat with buddies, and do excess of simply play video games. The 32-year-old Nintendo Recreation Boy, by comparability, was strictly a recreation machine—at the very least till Sebastian Staacks discovered a strategy to develop its capabilities, together with turning it into the worst attainable way to watch movies.

In case your gaming pedigree dates again to Nintendo’s earlier handheld consoles, you most likely keep in mind that the colour display Recreation Boy Advance might truly be used to observe TV exhibits by particular cartridges containing episodes of exhibits like Spongebob Squarepants, or full films just like the Shrek movies. The picture high quality was downright terrible, restricted to resolutions of 240 x 160 for animated TV exhibits and even much less for longer films, however it was nonetheless significantly higher than the Frankenstein’s monster of a media participant that Staacks has created.

The Recreation Boy was powered by a Sharp LR35902 processor operating at simply 4.19 MHz (for comparability, the pace of processors in trendy smartphones at the moment are measured in GHz), which signifies that it merely doesn’t have the horsepower wanted to decode and show compressed video information in actual time. So how did Staacks get Star Wars taking part in on that ugly four-color grayscale display?

Final month Staacks shared a put up on their private weblog detailing how they efficiently constructed a wifi Recreation Boy cartridge that relied on a wi-fi ESP8266 microchip along with a number of different elements hooked up to a customized PCB. The cartridge’s capabilities are severely restricted by the Recreation Boy’s processor (you possibly can’t use it to obtain playable ROM information from a cloud server, for instance), however Staack’s earliest demonstrations embrace utilizing telnet to ship and obtain easy textual content messages, and utilizing a primary on-screen keyboard to entry and show Wikipedia articles. As spectacular as it’s to see a Recreation Boy with wi-fi web entry, accessing Wikipedia isn’t terribly thrilling, so Staack got here up with one other use for the wi-fi cartridge that’s much more attention-grabbing.

Staack has promised a for much longer video explaining all the main points at a later time, however on Twitter last week they shared a short video of an unique unmodified Recreation Boy utilizing the customized wifi cartridge to stream Star Wars compressed to only 160 x 144 pixels and operating at 20 frames per second—a limitation that Staack explains is a results of the “quick intervals at which the Recreation Boy permits entry to the video RAM.” Watching streamed video on the Recreation Boy’s display is an terrible expertise, significantly given how cropped a film needs to be to suit on its sq. display, however the truth that it can be carried out is sort of superior. Simply don’t anticipate a Netflix or Disney+ app for the Recreation Boy anytime quickly (or ever).

If you wish to attempt constructing considered one of these wifi cartridges your self, Staack has offered pretty detailed directions on their private weblog, and the open supply plans and information accessible for obtain on their GitHub web page. You’ll must be very comfy with electronics, programming, and soldering to construct your individual, however as extra individuals begin tinkering with this {hardware}, will probably be attention-grabbing to see what else the 30-year-old Recreation Boy can do with web entry.

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