Open Source Pi Handheld

Something my brain won’t stop thinking about is an open source handheld based on the Raspberry Pi. I know in general there are a lot of DIY handheld cases for the Raspberry Pi, but I can’t say that I’m a big fan of the designs, which generally tend to be the original Gameboy with four face buttons.

For the most part I really want a Gameboy Advance clone to program for more than anything. Gameboy advance or potentially PSP. If there was a kit that replicated one of these two options that would make me super happy. I think when it comes down to it, that’s really want I want, either a Gameboy advance or PSP clone with XP-input controls and a full size SD card for fan games.

Because I’m a stupid idiot, and I keep thinking about hardware I’ll go ahead and make a quick list of the Raspberry Pi clones I would love to see (or make if I had any talent).

1. Piboy Pocket – Clone of the Gameboy Pocket with a black and white (e-ink would be amazing if the refresh rate wasn’t terrible) screen at 640 x 480 . With D-pad, A, B, Select, Start.

2. Piboy Color – Clone of the Gameboy Color with an IPS display at 640 x 480 . With D-pad, A, B, Select, Start.

3. Piboy Advance – Clone of the Gameboy Advance with an IPS display at 800 x 480 . With D-pad, A, B, X, Y, R, L Select, Start.

4. Piboy Portable – Clone of the Sony PSP with an IPS display at 800 x 480 . With D-pad, A, B, X, Y, R, L Select, Start, Left Analog.

5. Piboy Portable2 – Clone of the Sony PS-Vita with a touch-screen IPS display at 800 x 480 . With D-pad, A, B, X, Y, R, L, R2, L2, Select, Start, Left Analog, Right Analog

6. PiBoy Switch – Clone of the Nintendo Switch Lite with a touch-screen IPS display at 1280 x 720. With D-pad, A, B, X, Y, R, L, R2, L2, Select, Start, Left Analog, Right Analog, Right Analog Click, Left Analog Click.

If I could choose only one from this list, I think it would probably be the Piboy Portable. I think that would generally be a good starting point of having four face buttons, two trigger buttons, the main input being a directional pad, with the option of using the analog for more control. I wonder if there is a happy medium between the PSP and PS-Vita that could be targeted. But in general, I would really like to see a well designed kit for a Gameboy Advance or PSP that is it’s own kit that you can put together and not have to mod the original console.

Though if that’s what I’m looking for, then it might be a good idea to buy a pre-made version of the Gameboy Advance Pi mod.

Links Awakening DX

Next post, we come to the game that doesn’t need any introduction. Links Awakening DX is a god tier game on the Gameboy Color. What started off as a side project by Kazuaki Morita ended up being probably the best game on the system. As for the game, there’s a lot going for it. It’s a great top down adventure RPG, with a simple but comelling story, eight freaking dungeons that gives the game a decent run time, and a lot of areas to explore across a huge map.

Overall the only disappointing aspect of Links Awakening was that as I far as I know there weren’t that many clones made of the game. An action RGB seems like one of the best effective uses of the Gameboy’s capabilities, and it seems like Links Awakening is one of the few games to be able to take advantage of the Gameboy’s hardware and present a game with a huge scope.

Rom Hacks

If you want to experience the original game and get an improved experience, the best Rom Hack for Links Awakening DX is probably Link’s Awakening Redux. Which is actually four different hacks rolled into one. It removes some of the censorship, makes the text look a lot better, translates the photos and removes a lot of text.

For Rom Hacks that change how the game is played it looks like there’s New Awakening and Hard Awakening.

Media

Wario Land 2 & 3

I can’t say that I’m too familiar with Wario Land 2 and Wario Land 3 other than that they are really well animated games and have good reviews and great sprites.

Romhacks

There’s not too much in terms of rom hacks. It looks like there is a Master quest romhack for Wario Land 3 that rearranges all of the areas to provide a new experience. Persoanlly thinking abotu Wario Land 2 and Wario Land 3 makes me wonder about the different versions of Gameboy cartridges. There are the grey, black and clear cartridges. And I’m kind of wondering what the difference is.

Specifically I know the gray cartridges are for the original gameboy. So the only graphics are the ones included are shades of grey/green. The gameboy color attempted to automatically create palettes for these games. Then the are the black cartridges which work both on the Gameboy and the Gameboy color. I suppose that these are games built to the specs of the gameboy, but also have color data defined. And then the clear color cartridges are likely games that are built specifically for the Gameboy color, which means they probably use more RAM and VRAM.

In general I wonder if there is any difference between black and clear cartridges. Specifically it looks like a colored ROM hack would basically be a black cartridge and a ROM hack that added more sprites and took advantage of the extra RAM would probably effectively be a complete gameboy color port.

Media

Wario Land: Super Mario Land 3 (1994)

Up next on the list we have the last “Mario” game which is really a Wario game. From the antagonist in Super Mario Land 2, Wario becomes the protagonist in his own story. I’m not sure what Gunpei Yokoi had against bringing a normal-ass Mario game to the series, but I guess for either expressive or technical reasons the team decided to switch over to Wario completely, as the two games that followed this were Wario Land II and Wario Land 3.

I can’t say that I’m a huge fan of Mario games, but it still seems messed up that Mario only gets one slightly good game with Super Mario Land 1, and relatively good game with Super Mario Land 2. It seems like they could have continue to improve on the progress and make a definitive Mario game, but instead the developers decided to switch over to Wario entirely. That being said the Wario games are pretty good as far as games go, taking control of the antagonist, getting money and saving up to buy a Castle. Overall I can say that this title is enjoyable, but I would have liked to see another attempt at a Mario entry.

Rom Hacks

Unfortunately there are no ROM hacks for this game. With Super Mario 1 & 2 having DX hacks, and Wario Land 2 & 3 being on the Gameboy color, this game seems like an ideal option to have a color hack but it doesn’t seem to exist. I’ve looked around to see if the people who made the colorized ROM hacks left any tutorials, and I couldn’t find any. I can’t say I’m a fan of reverse engineering things that shouldn’t have to be reverse engineered, but at least it seems like there might be something to go off of. If we look at the original ROM and the patched rom and compare the differences we might be able to identify specifically which aspects of the ROM need to be changed to have color implemented.

We could also get lazy and color in screenshots with paint to simulate what a colorized version would look like.

Media

Super Mario Land 2: 6 Golden Coins (1992)

Super Mario Land 2 is the next entry in the Mario series, and the last main line Mario on the Gameboy. A lot of improvements were made to the format and Super Mario Land 2 feels like a more conventional Mario game when compared to the first game. The sprites are a lot more vibrant and detailed, and the game plays how you would expect a Mario game to play. The Koopas can actually be kicked around, and Mario’s fireball actually bounces across the ground. The game itself is structured like Super Mario World for the Nes where Mario is able to move around on the overworld and select which levels to play through.

Overall there aren’t that many points to take off from this game as it’s pretty enjoyable from start to finish. While not god tier, it’s definitely not mediocre and ranks in at all around good game.

Rom Hacks

A notable ROM hack for this game is the “DX” version which colorizes the game and adds Luigi as a playable character: https://www.romhacking.net/hacks/3784/

Media

Super Mario Land GB (1989)

The first entry is Super Mario Land 1989 and the first game that I bought with my Gameboy as a kid. Overall this game is pretty short and simple, with the biggest issue is that the game doesn’t feel like a Mario game. And that makes sense since the game wasn’t developed by series creator Shigeru Miyamoto, with development being handed off to Game Boy creator Gunpei Yokoi. The biggest issue with this game is that it seems to go against series conventions. The game doesn’t seem to take place in the Mushroom kingdom instead being in Egypt and Easter Island, and there are a lot of different enemies like bees, goombas with wings, and exploding koopa’s that are a little off putting.

That being said, the over all game, while short is still generally enjoyable. And surprisingly one of the best aspects of the games is the vehicle sections like the submarine and airplane that play more like a shooting game than a Mario game. Maybe Gunpei Yokoi would have made an incredible shump on the Gameboy given the chance. The game is pretty short with 12 levels, and while not an amazing game for the system is still over all a good game for the system.

Rom Hacks

This is a section where I highlight any interesting ROM hacks that exist for the game. In this case there is a color hack for the game, which colorized the entire game as if it were made for the Gameboy Color. https://www.romhacking.net/hacks/4477/

Media

25 Definitive Gameboy Games

The Gameboy Color is an iconic handheld system. It has a small color screen, with a D-pad, two inputs, start and select buttons. As iconic as the system is it seems to be remembered for Pokemon and Links Awakening DX. And outside of those two games, most of the library seems to be devoted to poor adaptations of N64 games, and bad movie spin offs for bad movies. It seems like with the Gameboy Color’s limited pallet and limited controls, it seems like there should be more simple games built around the limitations of the system. So that’s going to be the focus of this Gameboy series of blogs is to look into the Gameboy’s library to find the most notable entries for graphics and gameplay on the system, and try to find the best games in addition to Pokemon and Zelda that are on the system.

1. Super Mario Land 1 (DX patch)
2. Super Mario Land 2 (DX Patch)
3. Super Mario Land 3 : Wario Land 1 (no Patch)
4. Wario Land 2
5. Wario Land 3
6. Links Awakening DX (New Awakening Patch)
7. Tetris DX
8. R-Type DX
9. Legend of Zelda (Ages and Seasons)
10. Shantae
11. Metrod II (DX Patch)
12. Pokemon Red and Blue (DX Patch)
13. Pokemon Yellow (DX Patch)
14. Pokemon Gold and Silver
15. Pokemon Crystal
16. Megaman XTreme (1 & 2)
17. Castlevania (GB)
18. Pokemon Trading Card Game
19. Project S-11
20. Metal Gear Solid : Ghost Babel
21. Harvest Moon (1 , 2, 3)
22. Commander Keen
23. Worms Armagedon GBC
24. Contra Operation C
25. Dragon Warrior

26. Crystalis
27. Star Ocean: Blue Sphere
28. Survival Kids
29. Kirby (GB)
30, Megaman V
31. TMNT

Homebrew:

Tobu Tobu Girl : https://tangramgames.dk/tobutobugirl/
Micro City : https://github.com/AntonioND/ucity
Floracy : http://www.nesworld.com/article.php?system=gbc&data=gbchomebrew
Space Invasion : http://www.nesworld.com/article.php?system=gbc&data=gbchomebrew
Tyrian 2000 : http://www.nesworld.com/article.php?system=gbc&data=gbchomebrew

Missing:
– Dark Souls
– Legend of Zelda NES (remake)
– Gun Star Hero’s
– Ikaruga
– Luigi’s Mansion

Open Source Console

After spending some time to design an open source console based on a Dreamcast themed concept kind of looks stupid now that I’ve fleshed it out. Ideally I think a PsVita/ Vita Tv approach is probably the simplest and easiest. For the PS Vita everything can pretty much stay the same except for usb-c inplace of the micro-usb, SD card instead of the Vita card format, no touch panel on the back, no R2/L2, 800×480 resolution, and X-input for the buttons. I think the analogs could also be replaced with nubs, but that’s kind of beside the point.

Likewise the VitaTv can basically remain the same except swap out the barrel jack for a USb-C and the game format for micro-sd (system~ and SD card (game). The controller can basically be a stadia controller. And I think that would be a pretty simple, pretty compelling open source console concept.

Top Dreamcast Games

01. Ikaruga
02. Skies of Arcadia
03. Jet Set Radio
04. Power Stone / Power Stone 2
05. Phantasy Star Online
06. Shenmue / Shenmue 2
07. Typing of the Dead
08. Virtual-On: Oratorio Tangram
09. Dead or Alive 2
10. Ill Bleed
11. Resident Evil Code Veronica
12. Soul Calibur
13. Rival Schools Project Justice
14. Sonic Adventure / Sonic Adventure 2
15. Samba De Amigo
16. Sword of the Beserk: Guts’ Rage
17. Space Channel 5
18. Grandia II
19. Evolution / Evolution 2
20. Time Stalkers

Hosting thoughts

I moved mml.dashgl.com and dashgl.com hosting to gitlab. For gtk.dashgl.com I could probably download the entire site as static pages and then host the static pages on Gitlab as I’m probably not going to be adding anymore gtk tutorials. For blog.dashgl.com, I’m not taking very much advantage of this site. So I might switch the blogs to minds.com or something where I can post things and not need to manage a VPS.