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.
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.
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.
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 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.
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.
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 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?
The Retroflag GPi Case looks very similar to the original Game Boy, but it definitely doesn't play like one. The case features a 320px x 240px full-color display and requires a Raspberry Pi Zero.