The Nintendo Switch looks amazing. The entire console appears to have been shrunken down to the size of the Wii U’s GamePad controller. And while the Switch doesn’t come out until next year, Hackaday seems to have found the next best thing in Sudomod forum user banjokazooie’s mod that turns an old Wii U GamePad into a fully functional standalone console.
The hack turns a broken Wii U GamePad into a portable console
The Wii U GamePad is meant to be a controller for the Wii U with the feature to use it as a display for the console and play without using a TV — but at the end of the day, all of the actual processing is still taking place over at the console. banjokazooie’s hack changes that, by overhauling a broken Wii U GamePad with a Raspberry Pi 3, a 6.5-inch HDMI display, and some extra batteries to convert the damaged controller into a portable emulator that runs RetroPie. The only downside — aside from the rather high level of technical skill you’d need to build your own — is that the GamePad-turned-console only gets about three hours of battery life on a charge.
Still, looking at the build process, and considering the amount of hardware that banjokazooie has managed to fit into the GamePad’s relatively small form factor, the whole thing really is quite an impressive hack. And just think: if a Raspberry Pi-powered emulator machine looks this good, just imagine what a dedicated, Nintendo-built portable console in this form factor could do.