Build an inexpensive handheld gaming console with ATmega328

If you love classic games like Tetris, you can now make an Arduino console to play them on the go and in full color.

If you’re looking for an extremely low-cost, minimalist gaming console that will take you back to a much blockier 8-bit era, you’re in luck. That’s because Maker Joao Vilaca has proven that you don’t need to browse eBay or head up into your parent’s attic to find an antique handheld controller, but instead can build one of your own for less than $20 in supplies.


Impressively, Vilaca required nothing more than a three-axis joystick, a small buzzer, a 2.2″ TFT screen, four AA batteries, and of course, an Arduino Pro Mini (ATmega328) in order to get his version of Tetris up and running.

The high-quality TFT screen featured an integrated ILI9341 controller, which he connected using Hardware SPI. Although the screen shipped as 240 x 320 pixels, Vilaca was able to make it a bit more gamer-friendly by configuring it into a 320 x 240 display. He even employed the help of Seeed Studios’ TFT library to simplify the interface.

Though he selected a Pro Mini for this project, the Maker notes that other ATmega328 based Arduino and Arduino-compatible boards can be used in its place. For those seeking a 5V chip like the Uno, Vilaca reminds us that you’ll need a level shifter from 5V to 3.3V to avoid frying the TFT.


And what would a video game be without its sound effects, most notably those old-school chiptunes? Cognizant of that, the Maker also implemented a small buzzer to provide audible feedback to the player. Cue the Tetris theme song!

Truth be told, this is not the first nor will it be the last Arduino gaming platform we stumble upon. However, we can’t help but love them all, whether it’s Nootropic Design’s Hackvision, Microduino’s Joypad or Kevin Bates’ latest iteration of Arduboy. Simplicity, nostalgia and Arduino, how can you go wrong? Want to create a handheld Arduino console of your own? You can find a detailed step-by-step breakdown of the project here.

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