What is it?

The RetroGame is a cool little hand-held video game that was created in the "old style" using simple LED's and push-buttons. The game has a 5 x 7 LED display, two buttons, and a speaker.

There's no plastic case for the game, so to play it you hold on to the PCB (printed circuit board) directly. The game doesn't even have power switch. To turn it on you "plug-in" the power connector.

The power for the game comes from a 9-volt batter which is clipped directly to the back of it.

It can play two different games:

  • Retris - a simple version of good old Tetris
  • RetroRover - an obstacle avoidance game.
Each game is contained in a separate "Program Chip", so to play a different game you need to switch out the chip. This really isn't too easy, unfortunately.

Why Did I Build It?

It was created for the "Bridge Point Elementary Science Day" in January, 2007. Each of 60 kids assembled the RetroGame and took it home with them. "Assembly" in this case consisted of attaching a battery clip, inserting two ICs and attaching an LED display. You can see the kids' presentation in the Documentation section here.

The goal of the class was to provide the kids with an introduction to electronics through a medium they love: video games. The "introduction" was actually very slight, we really didn't cover much about electronics. The main goal was to provide a hands-on experience assembling an electronic device. Due to the simple assembly each of the kids was successful in creating their first video game.

Getting the "Other" Game

If you are a Bridge Point Elementary parent or kid reading this, and want to get the other Program Chip than the one you have, please let me know...I have a few extras and should be able to get you the "other" one. Just e-mail me.

Special Thanks!

There are two very special companies to thank for their roles in getting the RetroGame into the kids' hands:



Without these guys, these games would have never happened! But there are others who helped, please check out the credits page.

How Can I Get One?

Like I told the kids at Bridge Point Elementary on Science Day, there are only 65 of these games in the world, so you have something special!

Actually, I have a few left...so there are really about 75 of these things in the world. As of this writing, I have three "Science Day" style kits left (which are easily assembled) and three complete boxes of parts for those of you who know how to solder. Please contact me if you would like one. I give preference to kids. :-) Just e-mail.

Moving Forward

I would very much like for someone else to get benefit from the RetroGame. If there is anyone out there who would like to use the RetroGame for fun or profit, please contact me via e-mail retrogame@rothfus.com. I really don't care to make any money on the RetroGame...I would just like to see someone make use of all of the hard work.

A couple ideas come to mind:

  • The software for the RetroGame lends itself to creation of new games easily. The first game was RetroRover, which took quite a while to create. The second game, Retris, was created in a relatively short time because all of the software infrastructure was already in place.

    So if you want to create another game for RetroGame, please let me know, I can help!

  • The entire project in an interesting study in engineering, from PCB creation to software systems. It would make a wonderful student class project.

  • Other ideas anyone?