Uzebox Goes Retail

By: Derek Yu

On: April 14th, 2009

The Uzebox, the open-source homebrew retro game console we covered last year, is now available for purchase as a fully-assembled unit for $95! You can also buy the $70 Fuzebox, an unassembled kit that comes with a printed circuit board. The above video shows off some of the games and demos that have been put together since the project was first announced. Thanks, Uze!

  • Paul Eres

    I normally hate comments that harp on games, but — most of those look like straight-up clones of commercial games. I’d be more excited if it were mainly original titles.

  • Corpus

    I find this sort of thing interesting, but I don’t think I’d ever want to make a game for the Uzebox. If I release a game, I want as many people as possible to play it. How many people are going to be buying these things?

  • Trotim

    The console itself is a great idea and has potential, but the games shown were all very ordinary and unoriginal. That’s a shame.

  • sinoth

    This is an extremely interesting project. Developing a game on minimal, open hardware really sounds fun. Unfortunately, what Corpus said is true… even a great game will probably only get seen by a dozen people.

    The site did mention there is a cycle perfect emulator available… so development could happen without the physical hardware. A future TIG compo maybe?

    Maybe it’s just my fetish for everything to be internet connected, but I would love to see a device like this with a LAN/wireless connection. Seems to me a system that is already centered on community would benefit from having internet-enabled camaraderie. A game of pong with someone halfway across the world on a system I soldered together myself? Sign me up :]

  • Apprauuuu

    Hmm the idea is good but who will create games for this thing if nobody will play it besides you.
    I thing the point is to create indie games on a stable platform that everyone can play it and not on an indie platform which isn’t interesting at all.

  • renkin

    The games shown here are obviously just demos to show what the hardware can do. If you can make a better one, do it! :)

  • Greender

    I don’t know why would someone want this.

  • J

    I like the idea, though it sounds a bit like the XGameStation. I’m not big on the reliance upon NES/SNES controllers, either. Those haven’t been sold in most stores in quite a while, and I don’t have any lying around anymore.

  • JoeHonkie

    A lot of the nintenclones use SNES controllers, so I think you can find controllers that fit those ports, or just get used ones from eStarland or eBay.

    That being said, as everyone else mentioned you will be developing games for a minority audience. Far more minority than even GP32/GP2X/Pandora (and you can’t even take it with you unless you hack out your own portable).

  • Pragma

    @Corpus: there is an emulator in development as well; 100% open source. So far, it does everything the standard hardware does except for SD emulation, and that’s under active development.

    Personally, I plan on writing Uzebox games. I also plan on making the ROMS available along with a tweaked rendition of the emulator, so folks can just click-n-play if they’re not handy with a soldering iron.

  • sinoth

    I’ve done some digging on the forum and the project still doesn’t seem very mature. There is a lot of very technical hacking going on and (from what I can tell) not very great normal developer support. The hardware itself seems to be in a state of flux, with devs testing new chips as they are available. Might be best to sit this one out unless you really want to get your hands dirty.

  • Uze

    @sinoth: Quite on the contrary, it’s very mature where it counts, on the hardware side. For the rest, it’s where the fun is : software hacking. Naturally, most peoples will find this whole thing crazy, but for folks like me who likes electronics, assembler and hacking microcontrollers, it’s pure fun.

    So sure it will never dethrone any real console, but that was never the goal either.

    (btw, kits with snes pads are also available, so no need to hunt on ebay)

  • Consarnit

    COMMENT~~~~~~~~~~~~>GAMES

    I hate comments that harpoon games too!

  • Darius K.

    I vastly prefer the Meggy Jr!](http://www.evilmadscientist.com/article.php/meggyjr) I’ve been building [my somewhat-roguelike for it.

  • Paul Eres

    Gah I hope I didn’t start a new meme.

    COMMENT~~~~~~~~~~~~~>MEME

  • Tet

    It says “plain old C”… it runs straight-up standard C?

  • Pragma

    @Tet: It uses the AVR-GCC toolkit to build the ROM image. So yes, as the Uzebox kernel is all 100% C-callable, you can code up your game in C.

    The nice thing is that AVR8 ASM is available too, in case you need the speed.

  • Uze

    You can code in standard C (or assembler if you prefer). GCC is used since it can compile to AVR.

  • moi

    Interesting idea but not quite there yet.
    If I wanted to go through all the pain to create homebrew games in assembler for an obscure system, I’d chose a PC-engine instead.

    Give it a more advanced graphic processor of any kind and it might become more interesting.

  • Sunshine

    This would be the best console ever if you were to port Spelunky to it somehow.

  • Joey Joe Joe

    that pricy for something that…well… I know it’s indie and all but…..Something that low end and probably 10 dollars tops material cost?

    Sorry but I’d rather get something like an EEEPC for that price range and have more homebrew/dev access.

  • postlogic

    Me and my roommate bought the Fuzebox, it’s derivate. Now, him being a good programmer, he wasn’t happy with how the kernel worked, so he’s on his way to writing his own. So far the bootloader is in place, and there’s support for the SD card, something the Fuzebox hasn’t had..

    We’re well on our way of planning a game for it as well ;) Awesome stuff!

    I recommend getting the unassembled version, for some real fun putting it together.

  • sinoth

    @Joey Joe Jow: I completely agree about the price. Granted, it would be much cheaper if you didn’t have to buy the developer tools as well (that is where much of the cost comes from). But seriously, for a little more than the cost of the Fuzebox you can get something like a Beagle Board. Price needs to come way down before people will pick this up.

  • Uze

    I also agree that the price is relatively expensive. But it’s directly related to the small quantity produced. This is a niche market device. Producing at most 100 at a time yields these prices.

    @postlogic: “he wasn’t happy with how the kernel worked” Hmmm, what about a good discussion about that on the forums? :)

  • Cobalt

    Warning, idealism: Ya know what we need? A GameBoy Color-like console which costs $40 at most. Power would be supplied from a couple of AA batteries, maybe AAA. It could take SD cards allowing a ton of games on storage. It’d come with an emulator and programming tutorials and such would reside on its homepage. I think that such a device would be awesome, don’t you?

  • CIJolly

    If you were to do that, couldn’t you just develop for the actual gameboys? Decent hardware, and a bigger install base.
    We’ve already got the PC and a console fairly easy to develop for, how is indie portable development coming along?

  • namuol

    This is definitely a viable platform, if only for the emulator. It’s perfect if you want to develop oldschool-style games, which so many people seem to want to do these days.

  • Cobalt

    @CIJolly: Thing is, they don’t make GameBoys anymore. I *had* a GameBoy Color… Plus, I think you need licenses to develop software for, say, the DS without the need for tools or procedures to play homebrew.

    @namuol: I guess you could call them oldschool, yeah. I think of them as minimalist (not necessarily design by subtraction, though.)

  • CIJolly

    I wasn’t clear. By “The Gameboys” I meant the gameboy family, rather than “The Gameboy” which would be the specific console.

  • Moose

    That’s pretty neat, but I think it does suffer from the distribution problem already mentioned. That said, if the music in that video comes off an Uzebox I’d be tempted to buy one for the synth. :)

    Ultimate indie gaming console? Small handheld, low power, connects to WiFi, runs Adobe Flash. Done. :) Pandora could potentially do it if they sort themselves out..