Raspberry Pi Pico Powers Pocket Gaming Console

Raspberry Pi Pico Pocket Gamer
(Image credit: Grgo Mariani)

 If you grew up in the 90s, you might remember the excitement of the Game Boy Pocket and how satisfying it was to finally fit your favorite handheld console in your pocket. Maker and developer Grgo Mariani has recreated that excitement for Raspberry Pi enthusiasts with his custom Raspberry Pi Pico-powered pocket-sized gaming console

 The RP2040 is the brains of the project but the ILI9341 TFT LCD display is our portal to retro gaming and it adds touchscreen capability to some games. Users can interact with apps directly and even draw on the screen using their fingers. If you prefer a more “tactile” interface, the five mechanical switches provide the input and feedback that you crave.

According to Mariani, the goal was to create a project for his son using the Pico. The end result is this clever handheld gaming system that consists of 12 games for him to play. Examples include things like tic-tac-toe, a recreation of the classic Snake, a painting app and more. At the moment it’s powered via cable but gaming on the go would be more than possible with a dedicated battery and charge control circuit.

Mariani was kind enough to share a breakdown of all of the hardware used to create the Raspberry Pico Pocket Gamer. Users will need a Raspberry Pi Pico, an ILI9341 controller with an XPT2046 touch module, a 6mm button, and five switches. Holding everything together is a custom printed PCB which Mariani has made open source. Users can find the Gerber files for it over at the official GitHub project page.

The code and associated games were written from scratch in C++ by Mariani just for this project. This project code is also open source and available for anyone to download, explore, and modify at their leisure.

If you want to recreate this Raspberry Pi project or develop something similar, check out the full details at GitHub where you can also find a demo video of the console in action. In the meantime, be sure to follow Mariani for more cool Pi projects and custom creations.

Ash Hill
Freelance News and Features Writer

Ash Hill is a Freelance News and Features Writer at Tom's Hardware US. She manages the Pi projects of the month and much of our daily Raspberry Pi reporting.