In context: Are you a fan of retro-style consoles? Joining the long list of devices that recreate games of yesteryear is the Arduboy Mini, a matchbox-sized Game Boy-like handheld from Kevin Bates, who created the original Arduboy that proved very popular.
Before launching a successful Kickstarter, Bates showed off a prototype of the original Arduboy back in 2014. It was essentially an open-source, business card-sized (1.6-millimeter thick) 8-bit Game Boy clone based on a stripped-down Arduino board, hence the name. The device also featured a capacitive four-way digital controller, two buttons, a coin-cell battery, and a tiny OLED display.
The follow-up device, the Arduboy FX, offered more storage that could hold 200 games. The latest version, the Arduboy Mini, shrinks the size to half that of the original (48 x 32 x 8 mm), has more storage than the Arduboy FX, and comes preinstalled with 300 open-source, 8-bit retro-inspired games created by developers.
The Arduboy Mini’s minuscule size means it’s been cut down to the naked circuit board. There’s a 128 x 64 OLED screen, a 16MHz ATmega32u4 processor, 2.5KB RAM, six buttons, and a USB-C port attached. It lacks a speaker or built-in battery—owners can use the exposed solder contacts on the rear if they want these features—but the Mini can be powered from a source such as a portable battery that connects via the USB-C port.
The Arduboy Mini’s Kickstarter has blasted past its $10,000 goal and currently sits at $45,500 with seven days still to go. You can pre-order one of the devices for the low price of just $29 or purchase a pack of ten for $240, which could be an appealing offer for schools looking to teach 8-bit game development. There are also limited-edition Graffiti Editions for $34. The estimated delivery time for the Arduboy Mini is June 2023.
The usual risks of backing Kickstarter projects are still applicable, but Bates points to the two previous successful hardware Kickstarter campaigns and five years of operations experience as reasons to be confident.