Folks have been stuffing Rasberry Pi computers into Game Boy-inspired cases for years, but the ReBoi kit is designed to make it as easy as possible to use an actual Game Boy Color case.
Developer James Sargent designed a custom printed circuit board (PCB) that slips inside a Game Boy Color case as a replacement for the original mainboard, as well as some other odds and ends to allow you to use the classic handheld console as a modern computer. After running a successful Kickstarter crowdfunding campaign in late 2023, Sargent hopes to begin shipping ReBoi kits to backers in August, 2024.
There are a few things that make the ReBoi kit special. One is that no soldering is required: everything is designed to be snapped or screwed in place, meaning the only tool you should need is a screwdriver.
Another is both a pro and a con: the kit includes almost everything you need to turn a Game Boy Color into a modern handheld computer. Two things it doesn’t include? A Game Boy Color or a Raspberry Pi Zero computer. You’ll need to supply your own case and computer.
What the kit does include is an LCD display, batteries, and a PCB designed to interface with a Raspberry Pi Zero or Zero 2 series single-board PC. The PCB also features a Raspberry Pi RP2040 microcontroller that acts as keyboard emulator, allowing you to use the buttons on the Game Boy Color like a USB keyboard.
With a Raspberry Pi computer acting as the brains of the handheld, you should be able to run a variety of operating systems on a fully assembled ReBoi system, but since it’s clearly designed for gaming, you’ll probably get the most out of a gaming-focused operating system like RetroPie, which allows you to emulate classic game systems (including the Game Boy Color).
The ReBoi certainly isn’t the cheapest retro console available today. Early Bird prices for the ReBoi kit went for £74 (about $95). When you add in the price of a Game Boy Classic shell (or a third-party shell designed to work with the original hardware) and a Raspberry Pi Zero, most folks might be better off just picking up an off-the-shelf system from a company like Anbernic, PowKiddy, or GKD.
But using a Raspberry Pi gives you more control, since you can choose your operating system or even use the system as a general purpose computer. Plus, there’s something kind of cool about being able to breathe new life into an actual Game Boy Color while reusing the original case and buttons.
There’s no word on if or when you’ll be able to buy a Reboi outright now that crowdfunding has ended though.