I remember loving the Super Nintendo (SNES) when I was in my early adolescence. I would even fantasize about a way to make it portable. Of course at the time, that was just craziness. Even if you didn’t mind toting around a huge console, there were no suitable screens available. I also doubt that the battery technology of the day would have been up to the task, and in any case I was just a kid with no engineering skills whatsoever. And so that dream died. However, it did come true in a roundabout way with the introduction of the Game Boy Advance, which is essentially a portable SNES, albeit one that can’t play any of the original SNES games without having them reissued in another form. And the DS sort of made my dreams of a portable Nintendo 64 come true as well. But even though you can play Super Mario 64 on the DS, the great majority of N64 library is still locked away in their dusty gray cartridges.
However, now there are some people who are actually creating the systems that I dreamed about so long ago. Basically, they’re taking apart the original consoles and rearranging the innards (sometimes cutting things and re-soldering them) so that they will fit into a portable enclosure with a screen and (usually) a battery. Pictures of some of my favorites after the jump.
The L64 (also at the top of this post), made by someone named “Marshal,” reminds me of a white Game Gear, but of course inside beats the heart of a Nintendo 64. Very impressive job on the custom casing. Much better, I must say, than Ben Heckendorn‘s N64p.
But my hat certainly goes off to Ben Heckendorn, as he is certainly the most prolific maker of portable consoles. He’s done everything from the Atari 2600 and NES to the PS2 and even Neo Geo! The later systems are a bit on the chunky side, but things like the “nPod” below aren’t too bad.
We have the NES, SNES and N64, so what about the GameCube, you ask? Not to worry — there are people working on that as well. Ben Hartland, for example, and his “Handheld GameCube” (below). It’s actually little more than a complete GameCube with a controller and screen attached (it doesn’t even have a battery) but it’s still pretty cool.
Or what about this portable Xbox that someone has put together?
Of course, you have to ask yourself if it makes any sense to do this. The PSP and DS are both great systems, even if they don’t have the giant libraries that the full-sized consoles have, and they are legitimately portable and have reasonable battery life. We’re getting a little beyond the realm of legitimately useful portables when you start talking about making portable Xboxes, but I suppose that’s not really the point. If you have the skills, I’m sure it’s a fun project and some people like to do things just to prove they can be done. I wonder what the portable systems of 5 years from now will be like. If Nintendo follows their track record, we should have what is essentially a portable GameCube coming our way sooner or later…