Nintendo didn’t give us any new hardware during its E3 2019 presentation, so you’ll instead have to lust and drool over Bill Paxton’s latest creation. He reinvented the clamshell Game Boy Advance, but with the guts of a fully-functional Wii packed inside, allowing the portable to run a huge list of games, including those played with the motion-sensing Wiimotes.
Paxton shared details, photos, and a video of his second custom console over on the BitBuilt forums, but needless to say it took quite a bit of hacking and reconfiguring to squeeze a Wii’s electronics inside the much smaller portable housing he designed, in addition to built-in controls, a speaker, and a rechargeable battery. If you’re not comfortable attacking a motherboard with a cutting tool like a Dremel, then a hack like this just isn’t for you.
To ensure the housing turned out with as much precision as required, instead of creating it using his personal 3D printer, Paxton farmed this job out to Shapeways which helps explain why the results look so polished. Thanks to the use of the Wii hardware the handheld can also easily handle Gamecube titles too—and his decision to emulate the layout of the Gamecube’s controllers for the joysticks and buttons means this is the best way to take Super Smash Bros. Melee on the road. But at this point, the Wii has been hacked inside and out and is now capable of running several emulators, so Paxton’s creation can be used with almost any retro game imaginable.
I love the Switch, but don’t necessarily find it as portable as Nintendo claims it is. The clamshell Game Boy Advance (the version with the proper backlight), however, is one of my favourite handheld consoles of all time, and I’m very envious of what Paxton has created.