The BBC micro:bit is an awesome mini PC that can help teach kids (and adults) how to code. Now, it’s getting a cool new add-on, known as the :GAME Zip 64, which turns it into a handheld games console that allows you to code – and then play – retro games.
Created by Kitronik, the :GAME Zip 64 has a screen made of 64 individually-addressable full color ZIP LEDs, along with onboard sound, directional buttons, action buttons, haptic feedback and breakout points for additional controls and devices to be added.
These can all be programmed, and the micro:bit computer is slotted into the top of the device. A larger LED screen can also be attached to the console. It is powered by three AA batteries, with the cages used as grips for the handheld console.
The BBC micro:bit’s features – such as tilt, light and movement sensors – can all be used, allowing for all manner of inventive control options for budding programmers to experiment with.
Build and play
Coders can build their own games, or get inspiration from example games written in MakeCode Blocks and MicroPython languages, which can be downloaded for free.
Owners of the :GAME Zip 64 can also laser cut or 3D print their own cases for the handheld, and the Kitronik MI:pro protector case can be used to protect the micro:bit – and in a nice touch it’s shaped like an old school computer game cartridge.
Kitronik co-founder Kevin Spurr said “we all remember playing Pong and Snake in our youth and we wanted to bring the simple fun of these games to the BBC micro:bit. Students, makers and gamers in the UK, Europe and America who use the BBC micro:bit, can now code their own games, enjoying not just playing them, but making them too.”
Getting children and adults into coding, and allowing them to have fun while they do it, is a worthy endeavour, and we hope to see more innovative uses for the micro:bit in the future.