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Building A Brand New FPGA Game Boy Color In 2024 - The FPGBC!


The FunnyPlaying FPGBC kit is a complete FPGA based Gameboy Color console that you can build in 2024! But is it any good? Unboxing, build process and testing within!


This is one of my favourite consoles in my collection, and pretty much my go to when I just want to grab something and just have a very quick game of something for a couple of minutes. And it is of course my original Game Boy Color, which I fitted with a BennVenn LCD screen replacement mod probably about 10 years ago now, and it’s been, it’s served me well ever since, and it’s been going strong ever since.

Really really love the Game Boy Color, I think it’s a fantastic console. Saw that funny playing. Were offering a complete FPGA based Game boy color kit made with all new parts in 2024. You don’t need a donor console. New shell, new screen, new motherboard. And like I say, that’s FPGA based as well. So it uses that fantastic Field Programmable Gate Array technology for that kind of low level hardware emulation, I couldn’t resist, it’s just standing right up my street. Now this isn’t a sponsored video, they haven’t sent this to me, they’re not even aware that I’m making this video. The people I bought it from, which of course I will link to down in the description, have no idea that I’m making this video. I’m just building this thing for my own amusement and for my, for my own use.

So yeah, with all of that in mind, let’s build it, let’s test out a couple of my favourite games on it and put it through its paces and yeah, see what the funny playing FPGA Game Boy Color, whatever it’s called, kit is all about. So this is the complete kit which I bought from Retro Game Repair Shop, and no affiliation, no sponsorship, anything like that, but there will be a link down in the description of course.

And yeah, I bought all of the bits and pieces that I need to put this together. If you have an existing Game Boy Color that you want to upgrade, then that is possible, but you will need to modify the shell. So I I thought it’d be easier just to buy everything brand new from scratch, considering what it costs as well.

I think this is a real real bargain. If it works, if it works as well as I think that it does, but yeah, let’s take a look at everything that you get in the box when you order the the complete kit, which consists of five different pieces, apparently. So in no particular order, we’ll just take a look at what we have in these bags.

So we’ve got some button membranes here, which obviously go behind the buttons and press against the PCB. We’ve got the buttons themselves, and that’s probably a small clue as to the colour scheme that I’ve gone for with this. So we’ve got black and a nice dark red. And then we’ve got That’s an upgraded speaker.

That’s a Funny Playing branded speaker. I think from what I gather these are actually louder and clearer and slightly better quality than the original speakers so that is an upgrade. And then finally in this first bag we have, ah, that’s the battery. So that’s a lithium ion battery and that’s Retro Game Repair Shop branded.

And that’s not only, I think it’s a slightly higher voltage and also much higher capacity than the original AA batteries would have been. And of course it’s rechargeable and the recharging circuitry is built in which is fantastic. So we’ll keep going and what’s in this next bag? This looks like it might be the screen.

Yes, so here’s that lovely upgraded IPS screen. It’s got the screen protector built in, if you can see that on camera, which is nice. And it comes with what’s it come with? Got some stickers, that’s very nice. And Just a warning, a test before installation, no replacements once installed, we’re not responsible for any damage caused during the installation process, which I think is perfectly reasonable of them, so hopefully I don’t end up destroying this thing in the process of trying to put it together.

So next up is that replacement motherboard. So this is a complete replacement for the original. It’s got of course that FPGA chip on there. It’s got the space for the lithium ion battery to go and the connector for that to plug into, of course. And on the bottom we have a USB port for charging and of course a three and a half millimeter connector for the for the headphones.

But other than that, it’s pretty much the same. It’s got the Game Boy Link port on it, which of course is supported by this kit. And we’ve got The volume control and the power switch and everything else as you might expect. And so finally, the shell, and I thought for this build, I do really like my yellow Game Boys, it’s always been my kind of favourite colour, because that’s what I had back in the day, but I thought for this one I would go classic, so I’ve got the original classic Game Boy Color scheme, so it’s going to be a nice, creamy white colour with these lovely black and red buttons, so, yeah, let’s let’s get on with the build!

So turning our attention to the front shell first, the first job is to install this little speaker of course, and that comes with a rubber gasket which just goes around the outside like that, and then that should just drop into place. Might need some rotation a bit later on depending on where the connector ends up being, but we’ll just drop that into place for now.

And then of course we need to install those lovely buttons. And the great thing about these buttons is that they’re keyed in such a way, as per the original, that the obviously that’s the D pad that can go in anyway, but they’re keyed in such a way that it’s actually impossible to put the wrong buttons in the wrong place, which is always useful, especially for someone like me.

And for those buttons to work, of course, we need to install the membranes, which is just a case of dropping them into place. And yet again, Nintendo were very very nice in designing these in such a way that the parts can only go in to the correct places the correct way round. So that’s also quite an easy step and quite a difficult thing to screw up.

He says, hopefully I don’t screw this up. Yeah, looks like we’ve got a spare one of those. That’s quite useful, I guess. So the next part to go in, believe it or not, is the PCB, not the screen. The screen’s one of the last things to go in, which if you’ve worked on Game Boys before, might seem a bit backwards, but it does make life a lot easier.

And this just goes on here, as you might expect. It’s very difficult to get this part wrong. Make sure the speaker cable isn’t trapped, and then there are three screws that need to be installed just to hold this in place.

And it’s at this point that we can test that the buttons are all working and free to move okay. And I had heard some reports that these don’t feel quite as nice as the originals, but I do actually have an original Game Boy Color here. You can also see how much smaller the screen is, and of course we will compare the two once I finish building this thing, but you can see it’s a little bit smaller.

Yeah, that actually feels not that far off the original. They’re certainly not bad at all, not squishy. They do have a nice tactile feedback to them. So this certainly does bode well for the rest of this build. Now, the next things that we need to put in are the power switch, which is this part here, and the IR shield.

Now, one thing I spotted on this motherboard is that it doesn’t have the infrared LED on the top. The original has a It’s an infrared, you can actually use it for some multiplayer games for playing against other Gameboys. But this doesn’t have it. It does have what looks like a spot on the PCB to be able to install one, so I’m not quite sure if that’s supported by the FPGA at the moment, or maybe it’s a planned future upgrade.

But hey, to be fair, it’s probably not the kind of thing that you’re going to be making a lot of use of anyway. Just a bit of an observation. So this goes in just here, and just drops into place, and that’s slotted in quite snugly and nicely. That’s certainly not going anywhere, which is nice.

And again the power switch just slots in the same and that has a really nice solid tactile feel to it too. So all feeling very nice so far. The next thing to go on is the back shell, of course, and just like the original, which as you can see here uses these three pointed tri wing screws we also get the tri wing screws with this kit as well, so, very authentic, and it’s just a case of popping that on there, and then Installing the six screws.

So that’s the back shell on and I must say I am really impressed with this so far. I know I’ve mentioned that previously but I think it does bear reiterating. It does feel really solid, really nice quality kit and the buttons do feel great as well, particularly compared to the original. Feels exactly the same in the hand.

This one’s slightly heavier because it’s got batteries in it, but apart from that. But of course the next thing, the most important thing perhaps for a handheld games console is the screen, of course. And this kit comes with this lovely IPS screen. And if you’re used to working on Game Boys you might think this is a bit backwards because usually the screen’s kind of well buried inside the thing and you have to take the whole thing apart to get to it.

But as far as this kit’s concerned, the screen is the last thing to go in. And it just connects using a ribbon cable and then there are a couple of strips of adhesive down either side that just hold it into place. So let’s do that now.

Oh yes, that’s looking rather nice, isn’t it? Rather nice and shiny. So yeah, that just popped in easily enough, no problem at all. Of course, you have to unlock that ribbon cable connector first before you can slide the cable in, but it only took me a second to work that one out. And now the last thing to go in, of course, is the battery.

Now, the weird thing about this aftermarket case is is that it does actually have the the contacts in for the AA batteries, but of course it doesn’t have the corresponding connector on the other side, which is usually connected to the PCB itself. So I’m guessing this thing isn’t designed to support AA batteries.

I’m not quite sure why they’ve included those. I guess so you can use it as an aftermarket shell for your original if you want to. But this just has a small connector in here and this does look quite fiddly, but I think the next step is just to get that plugged in and the battery cover on and then we are in a position ready to test.

Ah, music to my ears, that’s fantastic. So that’s literally just fired up first time, no issues whatsoever. Really solid quality feeling thing now it’s all together. I know I’ve mentioned that, but you know, I am genuinely really impressed with this, especially for the price as well. It’s a very cool thing.

But yeah, before we go ahead and put a game in this, I thought I would just show you the FPGA menu that’s been added. built in because you don’t need a gaming to be able to access that. And that’s just a case of pressing down the volume button here and then that brings up the menu. Not a huge number of options here but quite useful to know about so we’ll just quickly go over them.

Of course we’ve got the backlight brightness and that should be, hopefully be fairly self explanatory. Anyway. The volume, which again, of course, you can adjust using this volume control here. So you won’t need to go into the menu to change that, but it’s in there anyway. We have a few different display modes that are supported on this lovely screen here.

So I’ll just go through those. So this is a times four integer scaling mode, which is the default option, and it’s just. For every pixel that was on the original Game Boy Color screen, you get four pixels on this screen. It’s kind of a direct, like I say, it’s an integer scale, so it should be a nice clear picture.

And we can also enable a scanline type effect that has like a grid over there. Of course that makes the brightness slightly slightly darker, but we can go up and correct for that by increasing that, so that’s easy enough. And then there is a third mode which is literally just using the entirety of the screen.

I tend to go for integer scaling on stuff, but hey, it’s good to have the option on there, so that’s fantastic. We’ll just go back to the default for now. We can select our core. Of course, if you’re not familiar with the Game Boy, if you put an original Game Boy game in a Game Boy Color, it adds its own color palette to it, and you might not want that.

You might want to play it as black. So you can override the core and just run it, run your Game Boy games as Game Boy games, or indeed you can run them using the Game Boy Color core. So it’s nice to be able to choose between those two options. And along with that, we have the palette selection. So of course those original black and white games, we can select which color palette we want to apply to those, which is brilliant.

Pretty much how it worked on the original Game Boy Color, so great to see. And again, relating to the screen, we have this frame mix mode. This is to do with the way that the original Game Boy screen actually rendered, so it was quite slow to draw. And some developers actually took advantage of that and used it for like transparency effects and things like that by flickering the screen on and off very quickly.

So you can turn that on and off, it just kind of emulates that effect. But if you want to see the games as they were originally written, you will see some strange flickering in some games and stuff if you turn that off. But hey, it’s great to have the option to be able to enable and disable that, if you want to check that out.

And we also have a Game Boy Color fix option, which again is to do with the original screens and the way that colors were kind of rendered by the Game Boy Color in some of those games. And again, quite nice to be able to have a fix for that that can be toggled on and off. So. Very cool stuff offered here by the original developers.

It’s, you know, it’s a limited number of options but quite nice configurability, I think. We could also change the speed of the cores. Hopefully that’s pretty self explanatory if you want to overclock some games for whatever reason, or slow them down to make them easier. I’m not really sure. But I think the important thing here is the firmware version, which, as we can see, is on 1.

  1. And I’ve just checked the website, and And the very latest version of the firmware for this thing is 1. 08. So the next step will be to get that firmware updated, which is quite handy because I can actually show you how that process works. So the way these firmware updates are officially distributed by FunnyPlaying is via Google Drive, oddly enough.

But there is an unofficial repository, which is the way that most people seem to do this, so that’s what we’re going to use here. And this is run by a fan called Mako, who also has contact with them and some background information on some upcoming features and things. So, always interesting to check out this repo and see what’s going on with the firmwares.

And I’ll leave you to do that at your leisure. Of course, I’ll link to that in the usual places. But for now, all we need to know is that we have the 1. 1 version of the motherboard. So we just need to click through to here to the firmware downloads. I did spot a couple of interesting things here that I will mention actually.

This latest update there is actually a hardware mod that you can do along with this that adds support for the Game Boy Printer. Apparently it wasn’t working with previous revisions. I don’t own a Game Boy Printer so I’m not going to be doing that. But hey, potentially something interesting to have a look at in the future.

And it also mentions on here that infrared isn’t supported, so that answers that question. Even if you add the infrared LED to the relevant place on the board it’s not supported in the in the FPGA core anyway. So they would be wasting your time, but perhaps useful information to know. So all we need to do is go through and download the update.

bin file, which I’ve already done. There’s also a version on here with a patched boot logo which we’ll have a look at. I’m pretty sure I know what that does but I will leave that until I have just tried out the official firmware release. And installing it on the on the Game Boy Color is dead easy.

All you need to do is connect it to your computer with a USB cable and switch it on, and then it will come up as a as a USB removable drive. So it’s just a case of going into the downloads here, and then we will copy this update. bin onto the root of this update. bin. Funny play drive

and that has now rebooted. So is that up to date?

Ah, yes, so that’s interesting. Looks like we have some different display modes. That’s this menu looks much clearer now I’m not sure if that’s coming across on camera or if they just renamed those Yeah, okay. So they’re the same display modes, but they’ve just renamed them. That’s fair enough X4MU, or maybe not.

I’ll have to look into that and see what they are Always nice to have some new functionality. But the important thing is that we are showing firmware version 1. 08 on here. Yeah, so that has applied successfully. But I’m quite interested as to what this patched bootloader thing does. So I’ll just switch this off.

So it looks like the screen goes blank while it’s copying across, which it did before. I don’t know if you spotted that. So that’s perfectly normal. No need to worry. Aha, there we go. So that’s what I was expecting. So that’s, that’s much more authentic, isn’t it? Perhaps not entirely above board, but hey, it’s my own personal device for my own personal use.

So I’m quite happy with that. Obviously I’m not going to try and sell it and pass it off as a genuine Nintendo product or anything like that. So that’s cool to see. Yeah, I guess we should get on and do some testing. So now I know I’m happy with this thing and it’s all working properly. I think it’s time I think it is finally time to peel that protective, protective film off the screen.

Oh yes, look at that, doesn’t that look glorious? That’s really, really nice. Really nice screen. So with that updated firmware, I’ve just been doing some reading on the release notes. I probably should have checked that before I before I started trying to explain it all. But these new display modes, the X4MU so the original ones were X4 and X4P, which has that pixel overlay effect, and that’s looking really, really nice now.

They’ve added the, obviously the full, full screen version, the full screen option was one of the original options as well. But they’ve added these emu options. Now what these do is they change the colors ever so slightly. So they actually do some color correction that supposedly makes it closer to the original Game Boy Color.

And again, it’s really nice that they’ve added that in as a configurable thing. So you can actually try the different options and see which one that you prefer. But yeah, I’ve booted it up with my EverDrive cartridge. This is, if we just close that menu, so let’s just switch this off. Of course, a thing with these aftermarket Game Boy things is, do they support the actual proper official EverDrive flash cartridges?

And this is an original Krikzz. It says V1. 2 on it, so it’s quite an old one. 10 years old now, wow, have I really had it that long? But yeah, this all appears to be working perfectly fine with this, so that’s very nice to see. Not all of the not all of the modern incarnations, of course, support those flash carts.

So let’s just fire up one of my favourite games on the Game Boy, which of course is Wario Land. It came with my original Game Boy back in the day, all those years ago. Must be, must be 30 years ago now, maybe even a bit more.

So as you’ve no doubt spotted, the colours look a bit strange on this game, because of course it’s an original Game Boy game running on that Game Boy Color core. And of course that’s how it would have looked on an original Game Boy Color, but this is where this menu option where we can actually override the core comes into play.

So we can change that to Game Boy, which of course I’ve just already done, because I’ve just been fiddling with this. And we can go through and we can save that, and then we can reset. And as you can see, the boot logo has changed to yeah, the original Game Boy style one. And we’ve got that lovely green tint to the screen.

This looks really good. It’s really kind of authentic to the the original Game Boy.

And yeah, that’s pretty much as good as it gets, isn’t it? That’s really good. I’m so, yeah, oh, I’m really pleased with that. That looks great. So we can go through. Oh. Okay, the menu’s changed colour, but we can still just about see it. It looks a lot clearer in real life than it does on my screen here. But we can actually go through and we can change the colour palettes.

So if we want it to be, say, black and white, for example, rather than Rather than green and white. We can change that on the fly without having to you know, without having to reboot the core or anything like that.

So, I’ll probably never use this, but I thought I’d just show it off because if, if you’re familiar with these IPS screens, you’ve probably seen this kind of thing before. But in addition to this this black and white option, and of course the slightly different shades of green, We can go through, and we’ve got blue and purple and red and all sorts in there, if that’s what takes your fancy.

Like I say, I think I’ll probably just stick to my old school black and white option, but nice to have lots of options on there. I’ve got the frame mix option on at the moment, I did have a play with that, I’ve not really seen all that much difference, but it probably depends on what game you’re playing specifically.

And again with this, this mod thing Yeah, it’s obviously on original Game Boy mode. It does look really cool with the the pixel thing on. And again, I’m not sure if that’s something that comes across on camera, but yeah, that may as well be an original Game Boy screen the way that looks. So that’s, that’s really cool.

And yeah, speaking of screens, I thought what I would do is just compare it side by side to this, which is my previously modded Game Boy Color. Now, the only other cartridge I have here with me at the studio is my Game Boy Camera, which is But hey, it will work for the purposes of comparison. And yeah, look at the difference in size between those two.

So this is one of the old BennVenn LCD screen replacements, obviously quite small. I think it was even smaller than the original screen, but still a massive improvement. And this was pretty much the only option that was available at the time when I did this one. But yeah, just, just, just progress, isn’t it?

It’s just amazing how far we’ve come with this screen technology. So that’s really cool to see. I’ll switch this off because it’s making a horrible noise. And I will test this out with the Game Boy Camera in a second. But so far, yeah, I’ve been having a play with this and really pleased with it. It’s really really good.

The emulation on it is absolutely spot on, I appreciate it, of course it’s FPGA and the Game Boy isn’t the most complicated system in the world, so it’s gonna be good. The screen’s fantastic, the hardware feels great in the hand, so a very, very cool purchase this, I’m very pleased. I can definitely see this getting quite a lot of use.

Just an example of a native Game Boy Color game here, and of course one of my favorite games on the Game Boy Color, really fantastic pick up and play game, which is Mr. Driller, of course, and yeah, runs perfectly well. I’ve been playing this for a few minutes now, no problems at all whatsoever. Looks absolutely brilliant on this big screen, so really, really cool.

So there we go, that’s the Game Boy camera, that works perfectly fine with this as expected. Not ideal lighting conditions in this, obviously I’ve got all my lights pointing down at the desk rather than at my face, but hey, you can just about make out my face on there I think? I mean that’s no sort of better or worse than it would usually be on any other Game Boy, you can actually see what’s going on on the screen which is somewhat of an improvement based on my experience.

Let’s see if we can just get this to, no you can’t see the camera, like that, you can see it. See it better in the reflection than you can in the camera itself, but yeah, it’s still a cool toy to play with. Like I mentioned, they did add support for the for the Game Boy Printer as well in the, in the latest firmware update, but you do have to do a small hardware mod.

Unfortunately, I don’t have one of those to be able to test with, but I think it’s just a case of adding or removing a resistor somewhere, so hopefully not a huge problem. And if and when I do get my hands on one of those, I’ll probably see if I can attempt that mod as well. But yeah, let’s let’s go back to me for the outro.

So, really pleased with this Funny Playing FPGA Game Boy Color Kit. Like I mentioned at the top of the video, I just want to make it very clear that I did buy this with my own money, it’s not a sponsored video or anything like that. And yeah, really, you know, based on the based on the limited testing that I’ve done with this today I absolutely wouldn’t hesitate to recommend this.

Of course, if you’re watching this a couple of weeks or months down the line and there have been issues, I will I will post a pinned comment to that effect, but can’t really fault it at the moment. And that unfortunately means that But I’m going to have to retire this, my trusty old original yellow Game Boy Color with its Ben Venn screen, which is a bit sad really because this is kind of an old friend of mine and I’ve had a lot of, a lot of fun with it and a lot of use out of it over the years.

But hey, that’s the March of Technology. It will still have Pride of Place on my shelves at the back of the studio here, so it will still feature in all of my videos and I think that’s, I think that’s the best send off that I can give it. So thank you ever so much for joining me on this journey. I hope that was educational and entertaining and hopefully somewhat useful to you.

Don’t forget to like the video and of course subscribe to the channel, and indeed subscribe to my main channel control. reese, and links to all of that stuff will be down in the description, as always. So thank you very much and I’ll hopefully see you next time.

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