Retroflag GPi CASE: The Raspberry Pi Game Boy We've Been Waiting For!

Finally, a plug-and-play Game Boy Zero!
Zach Zach (248)
Our rating: 4.75/5

Featured image: Nintendo Life

For years, clever makers on the Sudomod forums have been building their own portable video game emulation consoles by putting Raspberry Pis into original Game Boy shells. What started with a lot of parts and soldering evolved into all-in-one printed circuit boards such as the Kite Circuit Sword. While Kite's brilliant Circuit Sword PCB takes a lot of the pain out of building your own Game Boy Zero, it still requires a substantial time investment, a knowledge of hobby electronics and soldering, and access to certain tools.

At howchoo, we've been teaching you how to build similar unique systems for years. Finally, we're excited to announce that a legitimate company has built what we've all wanted: a portable Raspberry Pi retro gaming rig in the form of a [slightly smaller] original Game Boy DMG-01.

Introducing the Retroflag GPi Case

Retroflag, the company behind many amazing Raspberry Pi cases and USB gamepads, is about to release the Retroflag GPi -- the first commercially-available Game Boy Zero.

This story was originally broken by Nintendo Life, an amazing publication that many of you will undoubtedly remember from your childhood, which continues to deliver great retro gaming news.

Release date and price

The GPi is now available on Amazon for $69.99!

Review video

In addition to this guide, I also made a Retroflag GPi review video. Check it out, then read on! Our coverage continues below.

Watch the video:

Retroflag GPi CASERetroflag GPi CASE ×1
Raspberry Pi Zero WRaspberry Pi Zero W ×1
MicroSD card, 32GB ×1
MicroSD card reader ×1
NiMH rechargeable AA batteriesNiMH rechargeable AA batteries ×1

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Retroflag GPi overview
The GPi is an authentic DMG-01 near-replica.
Nintendo Life

The GPi is an all-in-one unit that emulates retro video games on the tiny $10 Raspberry Pi Zero computer using the free RetroPie software library.

To build it, simply install RetroPie on a Raspberry Pi Zero W, insert the Zero into the included game cartridge, and slide it into the GPi case. Finally, add your own RetroPie ROMs.

That's it!

Retroflag GPi features
The GPi features many of the same ports and features as the original.
Nintendo Life

The GPi features many of the features of the original Game Boy -- including an internal speaker, DC barrel power jack, screen brightness wheel, volume wheel, headphone jack, and power switch. It also adds a few -- like easy external SD card access.

The unit features a DC barrel to USB cable that will power the unit without batteries. You can connect this to any 5V power source -- such as your computer's USB port, an AC adapter, or even a portable power bank.

The unit handles safe system starts and shutdowns nicely with the help of some custom shutdown scripts. A Raspberry Pi power button generally requires a software component to send a safe shutdown signal to the Pi.

The GPi comes with the case itself, a power cable, and a reversible screwdriver. You'll need to bring your own Raspberry Pi Zero W, micro SD card, and batteries.

Retroflag GPi design
The Retroflag GPi is slightly smaller than the original DMG-01 Game Boy.
Nintendo Life

At 135x81x32mm, the Retroflag GPi Case is slightly smaller than the Original Game Boy (DMG-01) — but is otherwise a faithful recreation.

Conspicuously present on the face of the device are new X and Y buttons, allowing you to play additional games from the Super Nintendo era onward. On the back, two shoulder buttons further cement the number of games you'll be able to play.

Retroflag GPi screen
Goodbye 4 shades of gray-green!
Nintendo Life

Gone are the days of waiting for the next street lamp to pass so that you could unpause and continue your game on a hellish green screen. The GPi features a full color IPS LCD display with a wider aspect ratio than the original Game Boy's. At 2.8", it's also noticeably larger than the original screen, despite the handheld itself being smaller.

The GPi screen resolution is 320x240. This is sufficient for playing retro games, which were designed for low-resolution displays to begin with.

The back of the Retroflag GPi
The GPi features high-quality plastic, keeping it true to the original.
Nintendo Life

The plastic looks identical, and the D-Pad and buttons also work brilliantly.

As far as quality goes, Retroflag got this right. As Nintendo Life reports, "the plastic looks identical, and the D-Pad and buttons also work brilliantly".

It's refreshing to see that Retroflag got these right -- cheap plastic and mushy, unresponsive buttons would be a dealbreaker for most.

Retroflag GPi power consumption
The GPi consumes approximately 350mA @ 5V.

The GPi is powered using three AA batteries, providing a total of 4.5V. Since the Raspberry Pi requires 5V to run, internal circuitry likely boosts this 4.5V to 5V. Boosting voltage decreases the total output amperage and, thus, the overall capacity (mAh) of the batteries themselves.

After running some basic power benchmark tests, the GPi seems to consume an average of 350mA at 5V, giving you several hours of gameplay on basic disposable batteries. In any case, I recommend picking up a set of rechargeable AA batteries to keep you going.

You can also connect a power bank to the GPi's power port to play on the go.

Retroflag GPi sound
Here you can see the speaker slots and headphone jack in the same location as the original.
Nintendo Life

The GPi features an internal speaker as well as a headphone jack in the same location as the original. Of course, you can also output sound via bluetooth directly from the Pi to your bluetooth headphones or speaker of choice.

The speaker gets surprisingly loud and the sound quality is decent. There is a small amount of static present, but this can be fixed with some software tweaks inside the system itself.

The GPi is now available on Amazon for $69.99!

Makes a great gift for any retrogamer or even a unique gift for someone in the hospital.

The Retroflag GPi in front of an original Game Boy

The Retroflag GPi Case is a solid, faithful recreation of our beloved DMG-01. It seems they've nailed every detail -- except maybe for power. It would be really nice to have a rechargeable internal battery rather than hauling around a bunch of primitive AAs.

And at just $69.99, this system is an amazing value. You'll still need to bring your own Pi Zero, SD card, and grab some rechargeable batteries, but even with those costs factored in, the GPi is well worth it.

What games are you playing?

Why not try one of the games on our list of the best video games from the year you were born or browse our guide on finding ROMs?

RetroFlag GPi CASE
GPi Setup and Usage
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But you definitely can’t have one unless you’re 95.
Ash Ash (362)

We've shared Game Boy mods, rare Game Boys, and Game Boy collections—but we've never had the chance to cover new game boys!