Uzebox: The Open Source Retro Console
By James Grahame
Bohus wrote about several add-ons for the Atari 7800 and ColecoVision a few days ago, and one reader remarked, "The classic games are just so much fun, and when you get one, you can rest assured you got the whole game, not some gimped out copy that you'll have to whore out $5 a pop to get bits and pieces of it..[...] There is a market for an old style system with new style ease of use and programability."
Such a system already exists - the Uzebox. This modern 8-bit gaming platform is built around just two chips and a handful of discrete components. The ATmega644 microcontroller has a mere 4K of RAM and 64K of flash memory, and the system doesn't even have a video frame buffer (much like the old Atari 2600).
Games are stored on SD flash card, and the system supports a pair of easy to find NES/SNES controllers. Even with limited hardware, the machine can generate 256 colors at up to 360x224 pixels and includes a 4 channel sound engine and NTSC composite and S-Video output.
Dozens of eager coders have started to write for this open source platform. There are ports of Donkey Kong, Space Invaders, Tron, Lode Runner, Frogger and Moon Patrol, along with lots of original games. There's even an emulator to help speed development of your own 8-bit retro title.
Lady Ada makes a sweet $100 version of the system called the Fuzebox that includes the PC board kit, custom enclosure, SNES controller, programming cable and power supply.