We All Want A Small Game Console That Fits In the Palm
Video games didn’t start exactly with Atari, but they sure made a splash when the 2600 appeared on the scene. Almost immediately games started pouring out, but even more importantly, people (aka gamers) suddenly appeared as well. What that has to do with today is that games never needed to have the greatest graphics; what games need to have is an attraction that makes someone who can play them actually want to play them.
Where that brings us is to the Rasberry PI — a micro computing device that hobbyists love because of what it can do and how it does it. So why not stick that Ras into a Nintendo Game Boy-like chassis because it’s a proven shape? So why not take a Rasberry PI RP2040 microcontroller and put it into a Game Boy soft of design with a black and white screen? But modernized it a bit as it’s the 21st Century, so instead of a dot matrix screen we’ll go with a monochrome OLED, that high-end display tech found on TVs. But a lot smaller for sure because this display is only 72 x 40. Yet there’ll be enough room still for a speaker, internal rechargeable battery and micro-USB connector. So how small? How about making it so tiny it can be fitted with a keychain and leave room if placed against a quarter? And the whole shebang only 1.2 x 0.7 x 0.3 inches? That’s tiny for sure, but about the size of a person’s thumb, so it makes sense to call It Thumby.
Your Finger Is Punching The Buttons
Now Thumby indeed looks like a shrunken down Game Boy (a super shrunken down one at that), what with its front positioned D-pad on the left and two tab buttons on the right. Flip the power switch on the top and up comes a display screen and then the 5 games that have been packed inside (we’ll get to the games in a second). Selections are made using the D-Pad, and there’s a setting screen and choices too. Select a game and up it comes and play it till you win or lose. Hard to imagine anyone with fingers small enough to have their finger pads pressing the controls, so a good fingernail will work wonders here. And obviously anyone over 20 might need to squint a bit — heck us folks who lived through the early days of vid-gaming have an advantage by using their progressive (once called bifocals) lenses to get it all in focus.
Play Those Games
Now to those games, which aren’t complex by any means but who needs that anyway! You get 5, with an Asteroids type (Space Debris), a Dungeons/Maze type (Thumbgeon), a Tetris type (Tiny BLOCKS) and 2 others. Game play is intuitive and obvious, which doesn’t mean it’s not challenging — just that you know what to do and how to do it almost instantly.
And here’s the final really cool thing — because the ‘Ras came to life knowing it was going to be coded and worked on, and because there’s that micro-USB slot, games can be created by the Thumby owner, then placed inside for plaguing around, hmmm er we mean testing and enjoying coding (busted). So because Tiny Circuits is more fun than trying to climb the business ladder, they’ve made sure their little keyboard console is open source and even provide a web based IDE where you can use your computer and the micro-USB connection to connect together so as to be able to program (i.e., make) games. It would also be sensible if they provided some game development tutorials, so they do. And while what we’re looking at is an almost-final version of Thumby, and the IDE is an early version that will probably get some interesting tweaking, we were able to mess around a bit and have some good fun doing so. Just remember the web browser being used has to be Microsoft’s Edge or Google’s Chrome.
Thumby is pretty damn cool and fun and so small as to just live with you for the rest of your life. Or at least until you’re too old to be able to see the screen anymore. There’s to be a connecting cable so two tiny Thumbys can play against each other too. Find out more by going to https://thumby.us/