Written by Andreas Eieland
Do you remember reading comic books while waiting for your Amiga 500 to load the latest game, or the joy you felt when the first 8-bit Nintendo hit the streets?
I still do, and nostalgically remember a time when many of the games and hardware were simpler (streamlined), easy to understand and mod. I guess I’m not the only one who appreciates that the Amiga was equipped with sockets for the biggest components, making them easy to swap in and out.
Clearly I am not alone with my nostalgic thoughts, as a couple of years ago we had a “retro data party” at the Atmel office and people showed up with all kinds of old, dusty machinery. After drinking some beers and borrowing some components from our apps-lab we had almost all of them working and playing our old favorite games.
Now there is someone who has taken this concept a bit further with the creation of an open source 8-bit retro minimalist game console which is based on an Atmel’s AVR ATmega644.
The project is called the UZEBOX. It is easy to put together if you do not want to build the hardware from scratch, and uses a split software approach where sound and video generation are background tasks. Meanwhile, the games end-users develop in C exploit the complete interrupt system and numerous other resources. They have over-clocked the CPU “slightly” from 20 to 28MHz, but at room temperature, and not used in a life critical application like an airbag controller or Airline autopilot, this is really not a big deal.
As you can see above, there are several videos of the games on YouTube, and the UZEBOX crew even has a game design coding challenge going on right now.