Tiny Arcade, a vintage cabinet smaller than a Game Boy
Published 1 December 2015 by Nicolas Barrial
Using tiny Arduino circuits, Ken Burns has just launched on Kickstarter kits to build miniature arcade games, complete with cabinet, that are both playable and customizable. His campaign is already a hit.
The golden age of video games is always spawning another revival. Perhaps the tiniest addition to the scene are these miniature arcade cabinets designed by the American engineer Ken Burns, available for pre-order on Kickstarter. A smart move, as he has already doubled his goal of $25,000 for a campaign that ends on December 18. While he may not be the first to fabricate this type of geek fetish—a regular gimmick in the labs—this one is both fully functional and “the smallest in the world”.
Indeed, all the boxes are checked: a ridiculously small screen that reproduces the original 16-bit display (already the object of another Kickstarter campaign by the prolific Ken Burns), an analog joystick, two playable buttons and even an integrated speaker. And, the cabinet is totally wired—via USB to a lithium battery charger and via an SD port to load new games.
What makes this degree of miniaturization possible is a similarly miniaturized version of the Arduino circuit board. Ken Burns is the founder of TinyCircuits, which makes and sells TinyDuino electronics, open source circuits based on the Arduino Zero’s ARM 32-bit processor. No doubt the tiny arcade cabinets will be the best publicity for his company situated in Akron, Ohio.
While retrogaming is highly fueled by emulators of vintage games, it often lacks the decorum of the coin-eating arcade cabinet. Tiny Arcade provides all the missing nostalgia in your choice of acrylic, wood or 3D-printed plastic. The stickers can be replaced with your own designs. There’s even a slot for quarters.
Finally, Ken Burns invites the community to create more games to add to the retro arcade collection (Asteroids, Tiny Invaders…), as well as new games inspired by more recent smartphone hits, such as Flappy Bird. This is where the analog joystick realizes its full potential.
As for post-Kickstarter prices, we can already get an idea from the rewards promised to backers: $60 for a kit, $75 for the assembled arcade, $150 with a high-resolution 3D-printed cabinet. Estimated delivery in spring 2016.