The quest for the solar-powered gaming console

In the early 1980s, even as oil and gas companies hushed up research about the climate impact of fossil fuel consumption (opens in new tab), Japanese electronics manufacturer Bandai released a handheld videogame console that runs on solar energy. Reminiscent of Nintendo’s much later DS consoles, but with a strip of photovoltaic cells in place of the top screen, the LCD Solarpower range (opens in new tab) offered simple, built-in games like spook ‘em up Terror House or prison caper Breakout, rendered with jaunty, “painted-on” 2D graphics.  While all but forgotten today, Bandai’s machines have countless spiritual descendants in the world of homebrew development and hardware modding – from this decidedly impractical $1,400 (£1,200 / AU$2,200)  “Solar-powered mobile Wii for DIY freaks” (opens in new tab) to RunTinyRun (opens in new tab), an ATtiny10-based dinosaur platformer running on a thumb-sized OLED screen.

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