FunnyPlaying Is Getting Into The FPGA Console Business

FunnyPlaying is a company that’s made a name for itself by developing and selling quality mods for the entire line of Game Boy consoles. Their bread and butter are aftermarket backlit LCD kits, but they make many more mods and replacements parts for the Game Boy lineup, including shells, buttons, button membranes, and so much more (they even make replacement motherboards!)

It seems they’ve made replacement components for almost every part of the Game Boy. The only part that really can’t be replaced, however, was the CPU, which is a custom, out-of-production component. That’s where FPGA (Field Programmable Gate Array) technology comes in!

I’m not going to bore you with the technical magic behind FPGA chips, but as you may be familiar with, it’s the same technology that powers the Mister Project as well as all current Analogue products. In a nutshell, FPGA chips can be programmed to emulate other chips. In the case of FunnyPlaying, they’re using an FPGA to emulate a Game Boy Color CPU.

FunnyPlaying has recently released a new DIY kit that allows you to essentially build a brand new Game Boy Color from all-new parts. It’s called the FPGBC (short for FunnyPlaying Game Boy Color). The kit itself comes with a fully populated motherboard (including the FPGA), a laminated IPS display, rechargeable lithium-ion battery, and a speaker. However, in order to complete the kit, you will also need to separately purchase a custom shell that fits both the IPS display and USB-C port on the bottom, as well as some buttons and button membranes. Everything you need to make this build the FPGBC can be had for roughly $120 shipped (or $110 if you use my coupon code at Retro Game Repair Shop).

Purchase FPGBC Kit Here using Discount Code:  TITO to save 10%:

  1. FPGBC Kit:  LINK
  2. FPGBC Shell:  LINK
  3. Buttons:  LINK
  4. Button Membranes:  LINK

The great thing about this kit is that it’s super easy to build. No soldering or annoying shell trimming is required. All you need is a screwdriver to put it together, and once it’s fully assembled, you can immediately start playing Game Boy and Game Boy Color Games!

So because the FPGBC uses an FPGA, one may want to immediately compare it to the Analogue Pocket, which is also an FPGA-powered device that plays Game Boy games. However, comparing the two is essentially moot, since the Analogue Pocket is a far more capable device with more features and the ability to load more video game console Cores. It’s also, in a different price category at roughly twice the price of the FPGBC. Think of the FPGBC as a purpose-built device that only plays Game Boy and Game Boy Color games, while the Analogue Pocket is more of a swiss army knife, capable of not only playing Game Boy games, but also SNES, Genesis, PC Engine and so much more.

Now this is just FunnyPlaying’s first foray into the FPGA console market. I think as FunnyPlaying becomes a more experienced FPGA developer, we will see more FPGA devices come out from them and that’s when they could become a viable competitor to Analogue. Right now they’re both very different companies providing very different products.

Now while I love the FPGBC, it is not without its flaws. With its current version of the software (v 1.06 as of the publishing of this article), there are a few minor bugs that need to be ironed out. Most notably is are some minor graphical issues that have less than ideal workarounds, and the no compatibility with certain flash carts (The GB EverDrive works perfectly with the FPGBC). I am confident these will be rectified in the next few updates; however, this brings me to the ultimate issue that I hope FunnyPlaying will address.

As a company, FunnyPlaying has a habit of iterating their products frequently. While in theory this is great, in practice, it can sometimes hurt the consumer. FunnyPlaying tends to rush products to market, essentially having customers be beta testers at their expense. That seems to have unfortunately carried over to the FPGBC, although thankfully since the device can accept software updates easily through its USB-C port, this isn’t as big of an issue.

Speaking of the software, this is currently its weakest point. I showcase in my video some of the issues such as the need to enable the “Color Fix” mode to correct for graphical glitches when playing original Game Boy games using the Game Boy Color core, as well as compatibility with some flash carts just to name a few. Like I mentioned previously, these will likely be corrected in future updates, however, I think this is a great opportunity for FunnyPlaying to change the narrative of their current perception. I think that they really need to prove to their customers that they will support these FPGA consoles not just now, but in the future. They have a really opportunity here at becoming a viable competitor in the FPGA space, but again that depends on how they handle support for the FPGBC. I for one hope that they do not waste this opportunity.

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