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Raspberry Pi PicoSystem Retro Game Dials Up the Nostalgia

Raspberry Pi
(Image credit: Gsephelec)

Making projects with the Raspberry Pi is at the heart of its purpose. Making games is at the heart of Pimoroni’s RP2040-powered PicoSystem. Today we’re sharing an awesome development from maker Gsephelec who has created a working top-down game for the PicoSystem featuring some retro pixelated artwork.

Creating games on the Raspberry Pi isn’t new but developing them from scratch for the RP2040 is another story. Choosing a platform can be a fun part of the process as there are several RP2040 boards to choose from created by both official and third-party companies. In this case, Gsephelec’s decision to use the PicoSystem saves time as it comes preassembled with a built-in screen, buttons, and is completely portable thanks to a battery.

So far the concept has been worked into a demo but hasn't been fleshed out into a full game. What Gsephelec has made so far serves as an excellent foundation to create retro, open-world games comparable to old school RPGs from NES and Game Boy systems. Gsephelec explains that users can currently walk around and between maps rendered with custom textures.

The PicoSystem comes with a 1.5-inch IPS LCD display with a resolution of 240 x 240. Even though this screen is tiny, the pixel density is far too great to create assets on a 1:1 scale as sprites would be too small. According to Gsephelec, the pixel size had to be doubled to work in a 120 x 120 resolution. In the end, the game renders to a 15 x 15 grid comprised of 8 x 8 pixel tiles.

Gsephelec explained that the program was developed on a PC using C++ and brought to the PicoSystem using the official libraries created by Pimoroni. The only major change was the removal of drawing functions to free up memory space.

If you want to recreate this project yourself, it would help to familiarize with the PicoSystem. Check out the official PicoSystem GitHub page from Pimoroni to get an in-depth look at the libraries used to create games on the RP2040-based handheld.

Visit the original thread shared to Reddit by Gesephelec to dig into this Raspberry Pi project and explore the comments for more details.

Ash Hill
Ash Hill

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.