LeapFrog makes a variety of educational gadgets for young children. But with a little bit of know-how, you can transform some of the company’s older kids’ toys into… more versatile toys.

Retroleap replaces the firmware that ships with the LeapsterGS and LeapPad 2 devices with a Linux-based operating system built around the RetroArch emulation utility. Once set up and configured, it allows you to play classic Atari, Nintendo, and arcade games. You may even be able to run some PlayStation titles.

Retroleap for Leapfrog Leapsters (YouTube)

You can download the latest release and find installation instructions at the Retroleap GitHub repository. Overall it looks pretty easy to flash the custom firmware on the LeapsterGS and LeapPad 2, although you’ll either need a Linux computer or the know-how to translate the instructions to work with other operating systems.

The upshot is that you can breath new life into an old kids’ toy that you might have lying around. You could also theoretically pick up a used one from eBay for around $25, although there are probably better options for emulation-on-the-cheap than buying a decade-old educational toy.

The LeapsterGS was released in 2012 and features a 3.5 inch, 320 x 240 pixel display, a 550 MHz ARM9 processor, 128MB of RAM and 2GB of storage, while the LeapPad2 was released the same year and has a larger 5 inch display and 4GB of storage, but fewer buttons, which could make it difficult to play some games.

via HackADay and Retroleap for Leapfrog Leapster (YouTube)

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  1. I really don’t know what I’m supposed to think about the parents that would torture their kids with these “educational devices”, but the project is pretty neat. To be honest I’ve actually never heard of LeapFrog before, I suppose that it was not sold here in Italy in any meaningful form.

    1. Both of my kids had previous versions of these devices. Because of these games, they were well ahead on math skills going into kindergarten.

      Gamifying learning can engage more parts of the brain and helps commit new knowledge to long-term memory.

      1. Educational games can be fun when well made. Yes, it’s easy to outgrow them or get distracted by normal games when you try them, but they can still be a useful learning tool. And let’s face it, between a game about math and math drills, many kids might choose the game (again, depending on the age, game design, etc.)