TL;DR: Do you like your pixels razor-sharp? Do you like PICO-8? Then get this handheld.
This is the new Game & Watch
This is the Game Boy Micro
And this is the new Waveshare GPM280.
Looks good, don't you think?
And it runs PICO-8 perfectly. The screen, oh, yes the screen. In a word: razor-sharp pixels.
128x128 is such an oddball resolution. Practically no screens in use can scale that resolution easily, the only exceptions are 1024x768 screens and the iPhone 4's 960x640 retina screen. The solution to this conundrum? A smartphone-like high DPI screen plus an intelligent scaling algorithm. An approach taken by the upcoming Analogue Pocket for example. But that won't run PICO-8.
Take a look. On the bottom is the pixel-perfect iPhone 4 screen (5x integer scale), on the top is the GPM280 screen. Also notice the 45° diagonals, on the RG280V they don't look right because of uneven scaling. Here they are perfect. (Right-click on this picture to enlarge.)
Here is another comparison (Right-click to enlarge). Oh, yeah, razor-sharp pixels. How is this possible? Again, high DPI: 286 DPI to be exact. That's almost iPhone territory.
A responsive D-Pad with some clickyness and buttons with plenty of travel. All good.
The Pi 3 (in the compute module variant) handles 60 FPS carts with ease. No complaints here.
This one is really unfortunate. You get two hours of play time. The select and start buttons also show the battery status with green, blue and red LEDs. If it's close to drained the LED starts blinking. The battery will only charge when the power button is in the off-position. Try turning off the Wi-Fi when not in use. If it weren't for the battery situation I would declare this to be the perfect PICO-8 handheld.
I didn't manage to add PICO-8 to recalbox but I succeeded with Batocera. That OS is much more polished anyway. It does have out of the box support for PICO-8 but it's an PICO-8 emulator with some compatibility issues, not the real deal. Let's fix that.
I created an nifty installer package so you can install PICO-8 with very few steps. That includes extra features like shortcuts, sharp picture scaling and swappable controls.
Pixelpunker's PICO-8 Installer
How to install
Download [Batocera for the CM3] and write it to a MicroSD card using the Raspberry Pi Imager. Use a SD card marked A1 or A2 (Application class).
- Download GPM280 DTBO and unzip it to the overlays directory. Edit config.txt and add the following lines to the end of the file:
dtparam=spi=off dtparam=i2c_arm=off gpio=0-27=a2 dtoverlay=dpi24 enable_dpi_lcd=1 display_default_lcd=1 dpi_group=2 dpi_mode=87 display_rotate=3 dpi_output_format=0x7F217 hdmi_timings=480 0 26 16 10 640 0 25 10 15 0 0 0 60 0 32000000 1 extra_transpose_buffer=2 hdmi_ignore_edid=0xa5000080 dtoverlay=gpm280-pwm-audio
Turn on the Game Pi Micro. Once you are on the home screen, access the menu with the menu key and connect to your local Wi-Fi under Network Settings/Hostname
Turn on security under System Settings/Security
- Now reboot under Quit/Restart System. Write down your IP address under Network Settings. Now write down your password under System Settings/Security.
Login to your Lexaloffle-Account and download the PICO-8 zip file for the Raspberry Pi to your downloads folder.
Enter this command in Windows Terminal, Mac Terminal or a Linux Terminal.
It will ask for your password you noted earlier. Now type (and enter your password again)
ssh [email protected]_IP cd /userdata/ wget https://github.com/Pixelpunker/Pico-Host/releases/download/0.1/install-pico8.sh chmod +x install-pico8.sh ./install-pico8.sh
After successful installation the system reboots.
Your new home screen.
PICO-8 is properly installed with the following additional features:
- Sharp scaling
- Left and right triggers additionally function as ❎ and ⭕
- Press select for a screenshot
- Hold select for 0.5 s for a video
Launch PICO-8 in splore mode by choosing 'console' You can also swap controls between "Xbox style" ❎⭕ (which is the PICO-8 default) or "Nintendo Style" ⭕❎.
Browse screenshots and gifs you took with the select key directly on your Game Pi Micro.
Play PICO racer using the shoulder buttons.
Have fun. The fantasy console is no longer a fantasy. It's in your hands.
"High DPI"? Well, it's a small screen, but 640x480 still. No, the diagonals on Celeste aren't pixel perfect.
Nice portable console, but why oversell its screen?
It mimics the design of the Game Boy Micro which also labeled it’s face buttons twice (the Famicom edition, which in turn mimics the original Famicom controller)
Installer now works again with the latest version of Batocera.
You can browse the latest and greatest games via splore. Just launch 'console'. You can also use the search function inside splore without a keyboard. Simply move the dpad up or down to enter letters.
This is absolutely incredible! I bought a GPM just for this & the setup was a breeze. Thanks so much for writing up this guide & sharing :D
@pixelpunker .... silly question, but how do I quit out of Pico8 once I am in Splore? There doesn't appear to be any way to get back to the main GPM launcher screen
Thanks for your feedback 😀
To exit PICO-8:
Tap Menu Key: Exit to splore, tap menu key again, Options, Shutdown pico-8
It‘s a bit hidden, in the future I may adapt the script to support the select+start combo.
Adding to this conversation, I run Pico-8 portable with Tac-08 on my Rg-350. The emulator is free and the device itself sells for about $80. The RG-350 runs a ton of things including most other videogame consoles and plays movies besides - but yes, it does run Pico-8 with a few flaws.
Commands FLIP(), CSTORE(), and RELOAD() do not work.
@pixelpunker - thanks for the help :)
Another question: what directory can I copy carts into? I tried copying a ".p8.png" file into "/userdata/apps/pico-8/" but it didn't show inside of SPLORE... any suggestions?
@professir You can copy the carts to /userdata/system/.lexaloffle/pico-8/carts/
Anyone compare the CM3 version with the Zero 2 version?
[Please log in to post a comment]