Man Makes Miniature NES Out Of Raspberry Pi And Beats Nintendo To The Punch

Does this count as PC gaming? I think it counts. A modder has made a mini Nintendo Entertainment System out of a Raspberry Pi. It even has working cartridges and a tiny, adorable gamepad. Just when he completed the project, Nintendo announced their $60 NES Classic. But it was too late. They had been beaten to the finish line.

The modder, daftmike, began working on the project weeks before Ninty had made their announcement. He posted pictures of the finished machine and explained how it all worked on Reddit.

The finished machine is 40% of the size of the original and the case was made by 3D printing a downsized version of the original design. Inside, a Raspberry Pi 2B is running emulation software called RetroPie. There are two USB slots for controllers and the cartridge slot is handled by an Arduino.

The cartridges themselves are tricksy – they don’t contain the actual game but instead house an NFC tag – a small tag that contains the filename of the ROM. When inserted, the machine reads the filename from the tag and runs the game from the Pi itself.

But maybe the best thing about it is the gamepad, which is also scaled to 40% of its original size. Look how cute and tiny it is! It’s a BABY GAMEPAD.

The modder also explained the ins and outs of the process in much more detail in a blog post and walked through it all in this video. Although it isn’t the first time this has been done by Pi hobbyists it is definitely the most true to form. So much so that it is hard to see the difference (apart from size) between this and the old version.

“I decided to make my little NES after seeing so many NES cases for Raspberry Pis on Thingiverse and thinking they were kinda cool,” Mike told us.

“I thought that I could make a more proportionally accurate version than some of the ones I’d seen and used it as a way of teaching myself 3D design.

“It’s really been a huge learning experience, and took about a month on and off working on it.”

Nintendo’s own version won’t be available until November 11. Meanwhile, there’s at least one person out there who can enjoy miniaturised nostalgia right now. And he can even boast about it.

“Mine’s a bit smaller than Ninty’s though ;)”


  1. GeneJacket says:

    That’s cool and all, especially the nifty lil carts, but the miniature controller seems like it would make actually playing the thing a chore.

    • Universal Quitter says:

      Painful even. But judging by the USB-looking inputs, you’re probably free to use any compatible controller.

      • C0llic says:

        I imagine he made the controller for kicks rather than serious use.

  2. InternetBatman says:

    Ooooooooooooooooooor, you could just use an emulator with a mouse and keyboard.

    • clippa says:

      You can get usb adapters for any controller going.
      nes to usb, snes to usb etc. Lots of genuine controllers knocking about, though there are also a lot of fakes.

    • Capt. Bumchum McMerryweather says:

      that’s like saying ‘oooooooooooooooooooooooooooooor we could just do nothing fun instead of engaging in our hobbies’.

    • Niko says:

      Or you could go to Moscow, Russia, and buy a NES clone with a bunch of (probably working) cartridges. That wouldn’t be worth the trouble, probably.

      • Harlander says:

        Or you could go to Moscow, East Ayrshire, Scotland.

        Not to get a buckshee bootleg NES, just for a holiday. Check out the house of a man killed by a sleepwalker.

    • welverin says:

      Why the hell would you use a mouse and keyboard to play NES games?

  3. renzollama says:

    Look at that itsy bitsy widdle gamepad. I could just eat you up.

  4. geldonyetich says:

    Technically, I’d say they’ve both been beaten to the finish line by literally hundreds of bootleg consoles produced over the last few decades, loaded to the gils with pirated titles.

    But, to this guy’s merit, it’s pretty impressive he pulled this off all on his lonesome with a Raspberry Pi…

    … and, to Nintendo’s merit, they’ve legal clout enough to revise history itself if they wanted.

    • Baines says:

      Hobbyists have been doing stuff like this for ages as well. Personally, I found the old trend of converting consoles into portable systems to be more interesting.

      Making a custom NES unit is even easier due to the NES-on-a-chip.

    • benchoffhater says:

      Typing sudo apt-get install some_nes_emu isn’t impressive

  5. mukuste says:

    I wonder if Nintendo’s NES Classic uses emulation as well or if it’s closer to the “real deal”?

    • Jason Moyer says:

      Supposedly it’s just Wii hardware running an emulator. No, I don’t have a source for that information.

      • ElementalAlchemist says:

        It’s far more likely to be based on their portable hardware. Basically a 3DS with no screens, video out, and external gamepad ports.

    • MajorLag says:

      That’s actually something I’m really curious about. It would be relatively trivial to emulate those games on hardware that fits their price point, and that would mean there’s a good chance the device would be hackable to add games to it.

      Alternatively, it could be an NES-on-a-chip hardware solution, much like the pirate consoles, in which case it could be hacked to use cartridges. Given the conspicuous lack of Castlevania 3, which notoriously doesn’t work at all on most pirate consoles due to its mapper, I think this is a more likely scenario. Sadly, I find that most pirate console hardware incorrectly produces a slightly higher pitch in the sound effects. Nintendo would hopefully avoid that, but if they just grab an already existing chip…

      Another option is that they simply ported the games to some other hardware. This is not unprecedented, as the original Atari Flashback was actually, IIRC, an NES-on-a-chip with all the games ported. This would mean no easy way to add roms, and no carts. Nintendo might like that idea so I think it is plausible.

      All of these are, in my opinion, significantly more likely than the thing being a Wii running virtual console. That’s a lot more hardware than is necessary for the task. Why cut into your profit margin with a bunch of extraneous hardware? Don’t let the Wii-controller ports fool you, that’s almost certainly just done so that players can use their NES-mini controllers with the VC and their classic controllers with the mini.

  6. tonicer says:

    Urgh gross that poor disfigured pi. :(

  7. Minsc_N_Boo says:

    Raspberry Pi + Retropie = Gaming nirvana. I’ve played around with various emulators for years, but this is my favourite set up.

    Mame can be a bit fiddly, but once you get the right romset then you will have thousands of games to play.

    If anyone is interested in finding out more link to is a good place to start

  8. feverberries says:

    Meh. SNES is the sweetspot.