Tiny Arcade lets you relive the golden age of video games with an arcade cabinet that fits in the palm of your hand.
The golden age of arcade video games spanned from the late 1970s to the mid-1990s. During that time period, these machines became fixtures in ice cream shops, bowling alleys and bars throughout the world. However, it wasn’t before long that this form of entertainment suffered a decrease in popularity with the advent of home-based gaming consoles.
Truth be told, there’s nothing quite like the experience of playing a game in an arcade. And so, Ken Burns and the Tiny Circuits team decided to relive those glory days by shrinking a cabinet down to just a few inches tall.
The aptly named Tiny Arcade lets you play a number of retro-inspired games, each of which can be downloaded completely free online. Its creators hope to have over 20 classics available when the unit begins to ship, and being open source, you’ll be able to develop and release your own as well. What’s more, the palm-sized device allows you to convert any MP4 movie using a free utility to the TinyScreen format, put them on a microSD card, plug it in and then watch your video at 30 FPS with sound.
The gadget is based on the TinyScreen+ — an Arduino-compatible board that features an ATSAMD21G18A 32-bit MCU, built-in USB for charging and reprogramming, and an OLED screen all crammed into a package no larger than a quarter. Aside from that, there’s an analog joystick and two push buttons for playing the games, an integrated speaker for audio, a 140mAh lithium battery, and a microSD expansion slot.
“Even though the Tiny Arcade is built around the Arduino platform, don’t worry if you’re not a programmer. There is no need to download any special software or do any soldering with the Tiny Arcade, you can use it without any special knowledge,” Burns explains. “The Tiny Arcade can load games on the fly off a microSD card, a menu is provided at power up that shows a preview of all of the games available on the microSD card, choose one and it gets loaded in a second and you’re playing away. No need to reprogram the Tiny Arcade over USB.”
Tiny Arcade comes in two forms: either fully-assembled or in a DIY kit. The latter can be easily built in a matter of 10 minutes — no soldering or special tools necessary. The circuit boards snap together, while its acrylic or 3D-printed enclosure can be assembled like a jigsaw puzzle. There’s also a basswood case, which unlike the others, will need to be glued.
Those wishing to decorate their cabinets can do so with the two sheets of stickers included with each kit. Just peel them off and affix them to your Tiny Arcade, or print your own artwork for a more personal touch. You can even paint your own designs on the basswood model.
Ready for a retro arcade cabinet right in the palm of hand? Head over to Tiny Arcade’s Kickstarter campaign, where the Tiny Circuits crew is currently seeking $25,000. Delivery is expected to get underway in March 2016.