This custom cartridge turns the Game Boy Advance into a mini PlayStation

Thanks to YouTuber Rodrigo Alfonso, the classic Nintendo handheld is still being reinvented.

Rodrigo Alfonso

Typically after a console’s lifecycle, we move on and focus on what comes afterward. Some people, though, choose to re-purpose older technology to imbue it with newfound relevance. Take Rodrigo Alfonso, a YouTuber who has uploaded a series of videos experimenting with the possibilities of the Game Boy Advance (h/t Gizmodo). The savvy hacker uploaded a pair of demonstrations that show off the handheld’s remote play capabilities. In short, Alfonso fashioned a rather chunky-looking cartridge that allowed an unmodified GBA to run 3D PlayStation games like Spyro and Crash Bandicoot.

The cartridge contains a Raspberry Pi 3, which is essentially a credit-card-sized computer, in order to make use of a PlayStation emulator. Those interested can simply attach the cartridge and then download the code needed to run on GBA through his GitHub page. While this isn’t the first time that a device in the Game Boy family has been modded, the cartridge add-on is pretty barebones when compared to other handheld hacks.

Weekend project — Turning your GBA, which has probably been gathering dust, into a PlayStation emulator isn’t as simple as purchasing a ready-made cartridge from a local retailer. This is something you’re going to have to build yourself using Alfonso’s video guide and the aforementioned code from GitHub. But once that’s done, all you need is a standard GBA without any modifications to employ the software. It’s a simple plug-and-go from there.

As noted by Gizmodo, the cartridge leverages the multiboot feature of the GBA (which allows two handhelds to be connected for multiplayer even if only one of them had the game cartridge) to send a 240 x 160 video stream through the system’s link port.

Keep in mind that while this hack works with unmodified GBAs, Alfonso’s device from the demos had a backlit LCD screen and some extra hardware to improve the frame rate. Regardless, the games still function seamlessly despite operating on a handheld originally intended to cater to 16-bit gaming. This setup probably best serves people who might want to dive into the games of their youth during commutes or transit.

Who knows, maybe a decade from now we’ll be able to play PS5 games on the GBA.